Often the first thing I'm asked by those suffering from anxiety is whether it can be cured. But that brings up an interesting question - one that few people seem to consider:
Do you really want to be free of anxiety?
People often claim they want to be completely anxiety free, but anxiety is actually an important tool for staying safe, and an automatic function of your body's natural fight or flight response. You don't want to cure anxiety. You want to cure unprompted anxiety.
Anxiety Disorders Can Be Cured
The best way to cure anxiety is to take all of your symptoms together and create a treatment program that addresses the issues that are truly important to your mental health. Take my free 7 minute anxiety test to find start curing your anxiety disorder today.
What it Means to Cure Anxiety
An anxiety cure isn't something that prevents all anxiety from occurring. An anxiety cure is something that increases your own ability to naturally overcome anxiety and stress when no anxiety producing stimuli is present. To get your own personalized anxiety cure, take my free anxiety test.
Anxiety is a biological mechanism called the fight or flight system. The fight or flight system is a system where your body receives a flood of hormones and physical changes as a response to danger. It's what would allow you to run away from a predator or increase your likelihood of winning an unexpected fight.
But in some cases that system malfunctions. It starts causing the fight or flight system to activate when no danger is present. That's when you have an anxiety disorder. The exact reason this occurs is unknown, but it's likely a combination of:
- Brain Chemistry
- Stress Damage
- Behavioral Reinforcement
- Poor Coping Ability
When you struggle with regular anxiety, whether it's generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc., you're suffering from a fight or flight system that is activating at the wrong time for the wrong reasons, often in ways that cause the effects of fight or flight to be significantly distressing.
That's why many people want to cure anxiety. But that's also why you _never_ want something that literally cures anxiety to the point where your fight or flight system is no longer active. If you didn't have your fight or flight system, you would be at risk for serious danger because your body wouldn't tell you when you're in a dangerous situation or help you get out of that situation safely.
What you want is something that makes it easier for you to prevent and control your malfunctioning fight or flight system. You need to a way to prevent anxiety disorders, while still allowing you to experience anxiety and fear if you actually do encounter risks or danger.
Knowing the Definition of "Anxiety Cure," What Treatments Don't Work?
Now that you have a better understanding of why a true anxiety cure doesn't work, you need to also understand why there is no quick fix treatment. You need a way of treating anxiety that doesn't affect your fight or flight system, but instead prevents that system from becoming activated unnecessarily.
This is why anxiety medications are generally ill advised. Anxiety medications cause two issues that interfere with your ability to get a true anxiety cure:
- Anxiety medications can cause you to not experience anxiety at all, often accompanied by an increase in fatigue. Since you still need to experience anxiety this can be dangerous, and the added fatigue and side effects only increase the discomfort without "curing" your anxiety.
- Anxiety medications reduce your need to learn and use coping strategies. Remember, a medication - since it doesn't cure anxiety - will only work for as long as you're taking the medication. In the meantime, your own ability to cope with anxiety will be unused, since the medication will be providing the coping for you. Since coping is a "use it or lose it" ability, the end result is that when you finally do stop taking the medication your anxiety will come back and you may have an even harder time coping with anxiety in the future.
Now, there are still times when medication is necessary - especially if your anxiety is so severe that you need immediate intervention and you simply cannot work with other options at the moment. But even then, you should never take a medication alone. It will not provide you with the cure you're looking for.
What Anxiety Cures Do Work
It's not just anxiety medication either. Anything that only relieves anxiety temporarily without helping you learn to cope is not a true anxiety cure. That means that herbal supplements, holistic options, alcohol, and anything that otherwise gives you temporary relief is not ideal.
What you need is something that teaches your brain how to cope with stress better, and how to make sure that your anxiety doesn't overwhelm you. The best options for this are therapy, or some type of treatment that can help you re-learn your ability to cope with stress.
I've worked with many people that were desperately in need of an anxiety cure that will address their anxiety and help them re-learn the coping strategies necessary to control their anxiety permanently. They needed a true anxiety cure. That's why I created my free 7 minute anxiety test, to give you treatment recommendations based on the symptoms you enter.
So if you haven't yet, start the test here.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.