By Dr. Minal Mistry, Psychiatrist
Facts about anxiety.
“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.”
A quote from one of the Founding Fathers of the United States begins this blog by introducing anxiety. According to a 2015 paper from Borwin Bandelow and Sophie Michaelis in Germany, here’s what we know that anxiety disorders:
Current treatment for anxiety disorders.
Any type of anxiety can be treated, sometimes successfully and other times not so well, with a combination of strategies that represent the “biopsychosocial” model in psychiatric practice. This includes the use of medication (e.g. antidepressants), complementary approaches (e.g. meditation, yoga, acupuncture) and psychological strategies (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy).
What about preventing it in the first place?
The difficulty we encounter in helping people with anxiety is we are seeing a person who has already developed anxiety and needs help. However, questions are being raised as to whether we can prevent the anxiety developing in the first place. The World Health Organization acknowledge that prevention programmes can help prevent depression…but can we prevent anxiety? This is where the latest research helps to throw light onto this area with a study done in sunny Spain.
The Spanish “Systematic Review”.
In this research published in September 2017, Dr. Patricia Moreno-Peral and colleagues from Malaga in Spain (a country widely considered to be the sunniest country in Europe) have conducted an impressive “systematic review, meta-analysis, and multi-regression” to answer the question: Can anxiety be prevented?
Without going into too much detail into the statistical jargon, I will say that a systematic review is a type of review of the trials (randomized controlled trials) done using a structured approach to attempt to answer the question. ”Meta-analysis” and “meta regression” are methods of statistical analysis used to combine the evidence.
What does the evidence show…?
Firstly, the evidence was obtained from over 10,000 patients of all ages groups from children to the elderly – as opposed to previous reviews that have focused on only younger people. Secondly, it included worldwide evidence that covered 11 countries from 4 different continents. The evidence showed:
“a small but statistically significant benefit for anxiety prevention in all populations evaluated”
Anxiety prevention found in the study are two-fold:
Prevention is better than cure.
Although we can continue with anxiety treatments for people who are already suffering, we are missing the boat with prevention. So much effort has been put into treating a person’s anxiety once it has gotten to a stage that it requires help, there is little attention paid to preventing the anxiety in the first place. As a society, we may could make significant strides in reducing the burden and cost of the problem by putting into community these anxiety prevention strategies. To quote Benjamin Franklin again:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Research about anxiety disorders:
Cite this article as-
Minal Mistry (2017). Anxiety: Prevention is better than cure … prevention programmes may work according to new research! The Beautiful Space-A Journal of Mind, Art and Poetry. November 2017: TBSB125
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