“As Prescriptions for Anxiety Drugs Soar… Why Are So Many of Us Falling Victim to Panic Attacks?”

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The U.K.’s Mail wrote yesterday that “recent statistics suggest growing numbers of Britons are gripped by anxiety and panic attacks. NHS hospital appointments for anxiety quadrupled between 2007 and 2011; in Sussex, children as young as five are reportedly being referred for anxiety management. New figures show prescriptions for anti-depressants have risen by 9.1 per cent in just 12 months, a significant proportion of which were given for anxiety … some campaigners warn that anxiety is rooted in everyday stress, and we are overmedicalising the problem by reaching for ‘happy pills’ to manage it.

“While experts agree that antidepressants and benzodiazepines (a form of tranquiliser) can be effective for short-term bouts of anxiety — for example, following a bereavement or trauma — a large body of research shows the condition is most successfully treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — a type of talking therapy that encourages you to change your negative thoughts and behaviour.
‘People with anxiety disorder worry about worrying,’ says Dr Paul Blenkiron, a consultant in adult psychiatry at Bootham Park Hospital, York, who offers CBT.
‘We help them to realise that, in fact, the worst thing to do is think you must be happy all the time.”

“‘It’s better to say to yourself: “I’m worrying, it’s normal and it’s not going to kill me.”’

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]