You can do CBT face-to-face with a qualified therapist – usually a psychologist or psychiatrist. Around 8–12 sessions are recommended.
More about psychological treatments
Exposure therapy is sometimes part of CBT. It's where you gradually confront a situation that makes you anxious.
First, you make a list of all the things you'd like to do, but currently can't. Then you start by doing the easiest thing, and gradually work your way up to the hardest.
For example, if you are anxious about train travel, your list might look like this:
- Spend some time on the train platform.
- Travel one stop with a friend.
- Travel one stop alone.
- Travel to the city alone at a quiet time.
- Travel to the city alone at a busy time.
In general, you should only be treated with medication if psychological treatments haven't worked.
However, if you have a severe anxiety disorder or severe depression, your doctor will probably recommend both medication and psychological treatment from the start.
Types of medications used for anxiety
The best medications for anxiety disorders are antidepressants. Antidepressants work well for anxiety as well as depression.
The antidepressants most often used to treat anxiety are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Examples are fluoxetine and citalopram.
SSRIs aren't suitable for some people, so your doctor might recommend a different type of antidepressant instead – a serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Examples are venlafaxine and duloxetine. In some cases, your doctor might recommend other antidepressants.
Benzodiazepines (also called sleeping pills) are sometimes used to treat anxiety, but they are no longer recommended as an initial treatment. This is because they're addictive, and their effects don't last long.
More about antidepressant medications