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Adjustment to Cancer: Anxiety and Distress (PDQ®): Supportive care - Patient Information [NCI] - Anxiety Disorders

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There are different kinds of treatment for anxiety disorders.

There are different types of treatment for patients with anxiety disorders, including methods to manage stress. Ways to manage stress include the following:

  • Deal with the problem directly.
  • See the situation as a problem to solve or a challenge.
  • Get all of the information and support needed to solve the problem.
  • Break big problems or events into smaller problems or tasks.
  • Be flexible. Take situations as they come.

Patients with anxiety disorders need information and support to understand their cancer and treatment choices. Psychological treatments for anxiety can also be helpful. These include the following:

  • Individual (one-to-one) counseling.
  • Couple and family counseling.
  • Crisis counseling.
  • Group therapy.
  • Self-help groups.

Other treatments used to lessen the symptoms of anxiety include the following:

  • Hypnosis.
  • Meditation.
  • Relaxation training.
  • Guided imagery.
  • Biofeedback.

Using different methods together may be helpful for some patients. (See the Psychological and Social Distress section of this summary for more information.)

Medicine may be used alone or combined with other types of treatment for anxiety disorders.

Antianxiety medicines may be used if the patient doesn't want counseling or if it's not available. These medicines relieve symptoms of anxiety, such as feelings of fear, dread, uneasiness, and muscle tightness. They may relieve daytime distress and reduce insomnia. These medicines may be used alone or combined with other therapies.

Although some patients are afraid they may become addicted to antianxiety medicines, this is not a common problem in cancer patients. Enough medicine is given to relieve symptoms and then the dose is slowly lowered as symptoms begin to get better.

Studies show that antidepressants are useful in treating anxiety disorders. Children and teenagers being treated with antidepressants have an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior and must be watched closely. (See the Treatment section of the PDQ summary on Depression for more information.)

Current Clinical Trials

Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for U.S. supportive and palliative care trials about anxiety disorder that are now accepting participants. The list of trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.

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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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