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Anxiety - Treatments

Evidence-based Overviews    |    Prevention or Disease Remission    |    Associated Conditions

Videos and Podcasts    |    Decision Aids and Toolkits    |    Work Accommodation    |    Anxiety Organizations

Recommended Books    |    British Columbia Resources 


Medications and psychological therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy help many people with anxiety disorders. In addition, there are actions that you can take on your own that can help with the management of anxiety disorders. 

You can learn more about the principles behind self-managment, which include activities such as:

  • Exercise
  • Breathing techniques
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Mindfulness
  • Journaling
  • Social activities with family and friends

Learn more about stress reduction, and access helpful stress reduction tools and resources.


Sponsor Organization
Anxiety Disorders Toolkit [pdf]
BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information
Can Too Much Sitting Make You Anxious?
MedlinePlus - National Institutes of Health (US)
Exercise for Stress and Anxiety
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Kelty Mental Health Resources
Kelty Mental Health
Multiple self-help resources using cognitive behavioural principles and techniques
Get Self Help UK
Self-Help – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Anxiety BC
Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress
Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

With anxiety, a kind of thinking that people sometimes get caught in is catastrophizing (CIRPD resources coming soon). Some studies have shown that reframing or thinking differently can reduce catastrophizing.  One strategy for changing this tendency to catastrophize is called cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).

Cognitive behavioural therapy is based on two ideas:

  1. depressed people tend to have an ongoing negative bias in their thinking.
  2. depressed people tend to interpret events in a way that maintains the depression.

Individual counselling with psychologists or counsellors trained in cognitive-behavioural therapy may prove helpful. 

It also may be helpful to learn more about the kinds of thought-altering that you can work on yourself through self-management resources.


Cognitive-behavioural therapy: an information guide       Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – Real Stories                      Anxiety BC

Self-Help – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy                           Anxiety BC

How Can CBT Help?                                                               Get Self Help UK

Cognitive Behavioural Self-Management Course             Get Self Help UK


Antidepressants, beta-blockers and anti-anxiety medications are the most common medications used for anxiety disorders.


Antidepressants were developed to treat depression, but they have been found to help some people with anxiety disorders. Studies have found that twenty percent of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have been shown to receive benefit from antidepressant than  better than placebo (dummy treatment). A study using antidepressants in children and adolescents with GAD has also showed very promising results.


Beta-blockers control some of the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as trembling and sweating. Propranolol is a beta-blocker.  Taking the medicine for a short period of time can help the person keep physical symptoms under control.

Benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications)

The anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines can start working more quickly than antidepressants. The ones used to treat anxiety disorders include:

  • Clonazepam, which is used for social phobia and GAD   
  • Lorazepam, which is used for panic disorder
  • Alprazolam, which is used for panic disorder and GAD

Benzodiazepines should only be prescribed for short periods of time. Recent research has found people who are taking certain types of benzodiazepines for three to six months potentially raised the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 32%, and taking it for more than six months boosted the risk by 84%. People who were on a long-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam (Valium) and flurazepam (Dalmane) were at greater risk than those on a short-acting one like triazolam (Halcion), lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), and temazepam (Restoril). The researchers noted that the use of benzodiazepines could be just a signal that people are trying to cope with anxiety and sleep disruption—two common symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease. If that’s true, their use of a benzodiazepine may not be a factor in causing dementia but merely an indication it is already in progress.

Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Unlike benzodiazepines, however, it takes at least two weeks for buspirone to begin working.


Reviewed by: Marc White PhD, Scientific & Executive Director, CIRPD 

Last Modified: 2/26/2016 10:53 AM