Current events are causing anxiety levels to rise across the country, and it’s taking a toll on the mental health of millions of Americans. Anxiety is a normal response to stressful situations and events, but not everyone responds in the same way. For people with normal anxiety, the related emotions and nervous system responses are fleeting; they respond to stress management techniques and dissipate after the stressful event or situation has ended. 

But for people with anxiety disorders, the intense emotional and physical responses are often out of proportion to the situation. They tend to get worse with time, and they often become debilitating, interfering with everyday life. The good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable. Many people are able to find lasting relief from their symptoms through intensive outpatient programs.  


Treatment for anxiety disorders 

There are a number of different types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, various phobias, and others. No two treatment plans will look exactly the same, but in general, treatment for anxiety disorders typically involves some combination of medication and psychotherapy.  


Medications may include: 

  • Benzodiazepines 
  • Beta blockers 
  • Antidepressants 
  • SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • Other medications 


Therapies may include: 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to identify, understand, and change thinking and behavior patterns
  • Exposure therapy (ET) to help reduce fear and anxiety responses
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to learn to live in the present moment and experience things without judgement
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) to learn skills for tolerating distress and regulating emotions
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to reduce intensity of disturbing thoughts


Some people are able to find the right combination of medication and therapies right away, but others have to try a few different combinations before they find the one that works best to relieve their symptoms. And while weekly therapy sessions have long been the standard, many people are finding that intensive outpatient treatment for anxiety disorders lead to significant symptom relief in a shorter period of time. 


Intensive outpatient treatment for anxiety disorders

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are designed to provide stabilization and support within a safe and therapeutic environment while also allowing the patient to maintain routines at home, work, or school.  Intensive outpatient treatment involves longer treatment sessions of up to three hours a day, three to five days per week. This allows patients to spend concentrated time learning to identify anxiety triggers, recognize unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and learn coping skills and strategies. They are then able to put these new skills into practice in real-world situations. 


Intensive outpatient programs typically involve both one-on-one and group therapy sessions. In addition to the abovementioned therapeutic modalities, treatment may also include stress management and relaxation techniques. The benefits of IOPs are numerous, including: 

  • Longer sessions typically lead to better outcomes
  • Patients are able to maintain strong connections to their outside support network
  • Flexible and easily accessible scheduling allows patients to tend to their responsibilities between sessions
  • Patients have daily opportunities to apply new skills in real-world situations
  • Follow-up sessions help reinforce the new skills
  • Development of long-term relationships with other patients strengthens the support network 
  • IOPs are typically less expensive than residential programs


The goal of intensive outpatient treatment is to help patients achieve stability, learn coping strategies, and seamlessly transition back into their everyday lives. 


Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Anxiety Disorder in San Diego

If you’re struggling with anxiety, you’re not alone. These are challenging times, and anxiety is a normal response. But if you find that your anxiety is getting worse and interfering with your responsibilities and relationships, you may have an anxiety disorder.  Pacific Health Systems is here for you. For more information on intensive outpatient treatment for anxiety disorder in San Diego, please give us a call at 619-267-9257 today.