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Anxiety Disorders
Beyond Behavioral and Medication Treatments

Clinical Update August 2017
By Zur Institute

View a complete list of Clinical Updates.


It is difficult to estimate the prevalence of anxiety, but no one doubts that it is not only highly prevalent, but it is also on the increase. As so often happens in our field, whenever concern about a disorder increases, there is an increasing emphasis on pharmacological and behavioral treatments which target the most overt and distressing symptoms. Urgency about a disorder, however, is seldom a justification for not examining its complexity and for merely or exclusively treating its most overtly manifesting symptoms.

A variety of psychodynamic and holistic techniques, including short-term psychodynamic treatments, massage, exercise, and having pets, have been shown to be effective. Psychotherapists with a thorough knowledge of anxiety's etiology as well as several different tools, in addition to knowledge of medications and behavioral techniques, will be able to successfully treat a diverse clientele suffering from anxiety.


  • A sizable majority of anxious people somaticize their anxiety and seek medical treatment rather than psychotherapy, which suggests a need to educate physicians and a significant new source for referrals.
  • Understanding that anxiety is one of the most common PTSD symptoms can inform practitioners' choices of treatment.
  • By a 2:1 ratio, women suffer anxiety more than men.
  • Estimates of people who seek medical rather than psychological help for anxiety range from 30% to 70% of anxious people.
  • Worldwide, the lifetime prevalence estimates of anxiety among developed countries range from 13.6% to 28.8%.
  • Over half the college students in 2015 who visited college counseling centers were there for anxiety.
  • The existential or developmental roots of anxiety are often overlooked.
  • Rather than seeing anxiety as having either a genetic/biological basis or a psychosocial/attachment basis, growing consensus sees it as often a combination, which requires a more complex psychotherapeutic treatment.





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