All Shook Up: “Therapy Better than Meds for Overcoming Anxiety.” Says Major Study

All Shook Up: “Therapy Better than Meds for Overcoming Anxiety.” Says Major Study September 29, 2014

About a week-and-a-half ago, I taped a series on Women of Grace with Johnnette Benkovic on anxiety and my book, God Help Me, This Stress Is Driving Me Crazy!  Finding Balance through God’s shutterstock_174459824 Grace.  At the time, I asserted that while most people only receive medication by way of treatment for anxiety disorders, medication is simply less effective than therapy.  On the show, I said that anyone who has an anxiety disorder and is not receiving therapy is not receiving the best standard of care and may be unnecessarily prolonging their suffering.  A new study in the prestigious journal, The Lancet Psychiatry completely endorses the position I took on the program.  According to the new study…

While antidepressants are the most commonly used treatment for social anxiety disorder, new research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more effective and, unlike medication, can have lasting effects long after treatment has stopped.

Social anxiety disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by intense fear and avoidance of social situations and affects up to 13 percent of Americans and Europeans. Most people never receive treatment for the disorder. For those who do, medication is the more accessible treatment because there is a shortage of trained psychotherapists.

The findings of the study, a network meta-analysis that collected and analyzed data from 101 clinical trials comparing multiple types of medication and talk therapy, are published online Sept. 26 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

“Social anxiety is more than just shyness,” says study leader Evan Mayo-Wilson, DPhil, a research scientist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “People with this disorder can experience severe impairment, from shunning friendships to turning down promotions at work that would require increased social interaction. The good news from our study is that social anxiety is treatable. Now that we know what works best, we need to improve access to psychotherapy for those who are suffering.”

[The researchers] analyzed data from 13,164 participants in 101 clinical trials. The participants all had severe and longstanding social anxiety. Approximately 9,000 received medication or a placebo pill, and more than 4,000 received a psychological intervention. Few of the trials looked at combining medication with talk therapy, and there was no evidence that combined therapy was better than talk therapy alone.   READ MORE

If you or a loved one is struggling with problems related to anxiety, I encourage you to learn more about the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Catholic tele-counseling practice.  We can help you apply both the timeless wisdom of our Catholic faith and insights from counseling psychology to overcome the anxiety you’re facing.  Learn more at our website or by calling 740-266-6461 to make an appointment to speak with a counselor.

 

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