Anxiety disorders are a group of mental conditions characterized by feelings of fear and inhibition that make it difficult to live your life freely. Suffering from anxiety can lead individuals to experience excessive and intense fear and worry. These difficulties can range from feeling simple nervousness to experiencing a crippling sense of dread either constantly or intermittently. There is an overlap of depression and anxiety, and the FDA has recently approved TMS therapy as a treatment option for depression with anxiety.
Disability from anxiety can make depression worse. It can interfere with social, occupational, and recreational functions. Response to appropriate treatment, such as TMS therapy for depression with anxiety, can restore comfortable functioning.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques can be beneficial for some individuals. Psychotherapy, including CBT, exposure therapy, and skill training, can help some people with anxiety. Medications can be helpful. Unfortunately, some of the most effective short-term drugs have long-term difficulties. Benzodiazepines are very helpful in the short-term management of anxiety. However, long-term use leads to habituation and tolerance. Withdrawal feels like an anxiety attack that won’t stop until you take your next dose. Often, I see clients who have been on benzodiazepines for a long time, still suffering from anxiety daily. Often they are terrified of coming off of the benzodiazepines even though it is not helping their anxiety because the withdrawal is worse. Antidepressant medications can be beneficial for certain types of anxiety. For many people, drugs are life-changing. They don’t help everyone.
Medications are often most helpful for panic disorder. Chronic benzodiazepine use does not seem to lead to good long-term outcomes. Agoraphobia, in my experience, does not readily respond to medications. Exposure and response prevention therapy appear to be most helpful. Anxiety disorders such as OCD have often had a limited response to both medicines and therapies. Improvement with treatment is the goal. Social anxiety disorder will sometimes respond to medications, particularly SSRIs. Anxiety leads to avoidance and isolation in order to avoid people or situations that may trigger anxiety. The amygdala is hyperactive in both depression and anxiety disorders. The hyperactive amygdala leads to preoccupations with guilt, loss and regret, contributing to anxiety and depression disorders. The activated Neocortex helps calm both the amygdala and the brainstem. With effective stimulation, TMS works to bring the neurons in your Neocortex to a normal level of activity. At Duluth TMS, we specialize in providing transcranial magnetic stimulation when medications and psychotherapy have not been effective for depression and anxiety.