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Taking the anxiety out of treating anxiety disorders

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

Tennis great Naomi Osaka, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, and five-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love have spoken openly about their battles with anxiety. But they're not alone -- around 40 million American adults contend with the chronic feelings of dread, irritability, upset stomach, racing heartbeat, shortness of breath and insomnia that are associated with anxiety disorders. COVID-19, rising expenses, the war in Ukraine, climate change -- they all add fuel to the fire.

Whether you are dealing with general anxiety disorder, or GAD (a persistent and exaggerated worrying), social anxiety disorder (intense fear of social interaction), panic disorder (panic attacks and feelings of terror), or phobias (irrational fear of a specific thing or situation), anxiety can be life-altering. Untreated, only about 37% to 58% of patients reporting recovery 12 years out from their initial attack, according to Dr. Naomi M. Simon of NYU's Grossman School of Medicine.

The good news is that these disorders are treatable (just ask Phelps!) and a new review by Dr. Simon in JAMA Network reveals which approaches work best. Cognitive behavioral therapy -- often coupled with exposure-based interventions -- offers substantial benefits for anyone contending with GAD and can help ease social anxiety and panic disorders. In addition, all disorders may be helped a bit by medication. SSRIs, such as sertraline, and SNRIs, such as venlafaxine extended release, are associated with small to medium benefits. So, if you're feeling chronically anxious, ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist in management of anxiety disorders and look forward to a happier new year.

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Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@GreatAgeReboot.com.

(c)2023 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2023 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
 

 

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