Are Anxiety Disorders Curable?

If you have had an anxiety disorder for more than a few months then chances are that you have looked for a cure for your anxiety disorder.

You may have went to Google or some other search engine and actually typed in the search box “cure for anxiety” or something like that.

Or maybe you went to a library and did some searching there. And although I don’t know how you searched, it is likely that you didn’t find exactly what you were looking for.

As with any mental or medical condition, when people become afflicted with something terrible they want to get their hands on a silver bullet to get rid of it.

But when it comes to anxiety disorder you are more likely to find a lot of half-truths and products that guarantee cures in 3 minutes or 90 days, it varies of course, but none of them will actually deliver the cure you’re seeking.

I can tell you for certain that you cannot buy a cure for your anxiety disorder.

Whether it’s a huge pharmaceutical company pushing drugs or someone’s “special program” none of them will ever cure you completely of your anxiety.

This is an important bit of information to note, since I think it will set an appropriate set of expectations when it comes to you finding the way out of your maze. So why can’t anyone or thing cure you of anxiety? The simple answer is that anxiety is built into your DNA.

Now it would be nice if you could reach into your brain and pull out your amygdala. But unfortunately we can’t go around with gaping holes in our heads. Removing this small bugger would essentially stop all fear production and the related symptoms we hate so much.

But of course there is a catch. This is because the amygdala is not only where our fear lies, but this part of the brain is also the seat of emotion and memory.

The point is that our ability to feel fear and anxiety is an integral part of our mental makeup and for better or for worse we are stuck with it.

You can’t cure anxiety because it is programmed into all of us. It does however serve an essential role in keeping you and me alive. We all need limits and ways of keeping ourselves safe and fear does that for us.

It regulates what we ought and ought not do so that we don’t go and die unnecessarily. Have you ever seen a small child with a strange animal? Not always, but many times the child will show fear and uneasiness with the strange creature.

This is precisely because we are hard-wired to behave this way. My two-year old doesn’t really understand what a dog is, but he knows to approach it very carefully without me telling him that. Fear is with all of us from the very beginning.

This is all important to know because it should lay the ground work for your ultimate recovery. So how do you recover but not find a cure? When I started this blog one of the first entries explained that I knew effective ways to manage anxiety, but not cure it.

Then recently I was struck by the idea for this post. I figured that I correctly judged that I had not been cured because there was no cure to be found. So without a so-called cure there has to be something else.

The “what else” is very critical to you and me. What you might think of as a cure actually lies in our ability to manage our anxiety disorder and not our perceived ability to zap it.

Anxiety has gotten out of control for us and what we need to do is reduce its influence and control on our minds and bodies. Since we cannot cure or remove anxiety, what we must do is regain control of our fear and reaction to it.

Think about it, all the anti-anxiety drugs, herbs, quasi natural remedies, breathing techniques, therapy, etc are all designed to help you minimize and cope with anxiety – not cure it.

Now when people claim to be cured, I think what they actually mean is that they have found an effective way to suppress their overwhelming fear of their anxiety and the symptoms it causes.

The current availability of what can be thought of as anxiety management tools and the lack of a well-known wonder drug (or other cure) is significant. It shows that being able to control your anxiety and keep it under tolerable levels is a much more realistic goal. Right now there is simply no one way to eliminate anxiety disorders quickly.

Long before I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder I experienced bouts of serious nervousness but lived life happy-go-lucky. I would make excessive trips to the bathroom before going out to social events, when I played football in high school I would  vomit before every single game, and my palms would sweat like crazy before exams.

But even with all this I was clueless to what anxiety was because my anxiety always subsided after the initial shock of stress and or fear. I would settle in and not give it a second thought.

This is what the goal should be for all of us. To get back to the point where you feel anxiety, but only to the point were it doesn’t impede you in any serious way. Every human being on earth feels anxiety from time to time but what sets us apart from the rest of humanity is our inability to regain control after the initial shock of stress and fear.

Of course some of us because of issues related to brain chemistry and family history are more prone to be affected by anxiety. However this does not change the fact that we can learn to manage our anxiety, and by doing so we will have found something that very closely resembles a cure.

It is all about finding effective means of management and the hopeful expectation that this will lead to less anxiety. We are going to be anxious at times for the long haul, but accepting this reality can make the journey so much easier.

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  • kourtney

    thank you so much!

  • Sc

    Hi Paul.
    I hope you sometimes look at old comments because id like a fallowup on this. I have anxiety. It had diminished greatly and I was fine for a while. I felt occasional stresses but those feelings are different. I’m trying to reduce my meds to get pregnant as the possible side effects are scary. Since being on half dosage for about a year, anxiety episodes have become more frequent. A few friends told me how acupuncture had helped them relieve tension so I though to give it a try. After 2 needles anxiety resurfaced. The strange feelings terrified me and it’s been 3 days of terrible fear. I keep wondering if the needles messed up my system in a way it will never recover. The rational part of me tells me it’s impossible, but my sensations tell me I need to fix myself. I was arguing with my boyfriend about how I was anxious and felt bad. He was having a bad day too so he told me to try to cure it better. I told him there is no cure only management according to both my psychologist and my physician. He then told me that they must be wrong. He later apologized for his lack of understanding but I still felt I needed to show I was right about the coping part. After writing this 4 years ago, would you still agree that the best cure is to find a way to manage the bad feelings rather than focus on treating them? Is there a cure I’m not aware of that came out during these year? If so I’m really interested. Thanks for not having a characters limit on the comments part. :)

  • http://anxietyguru.net Paul Dooley

    Hi Sc,

    This is a good topic. The answer though isn’t so great. The answer is: It depends. Take me for example, I have no symptoms, no abnormal worry, it’s gone. Then there are those that lessen their anxiety but never get rid of it. And, of course, those that never recover.

    That being said, there is no cure for anxiety, but you can manage and even eliminate abnormal anxiety – see the difference. It’s the abnormal anxiety that is the problem, not anxiety itself.

    So, you can “cure” abnormal anxiety. How you do this will vary, but it is possible.

  • Tony

    Hey there,

    I have been suffering with serious anxiety problems for the last 11 months now. (The reason I’m here is because its got to that point where my mind wanted to look for that “magical cure” and I came accross this blog)my anxiety occors when there is a buildup of adrenaline, there is no way I can stop it and I have I guess come to terms that I will never go back to living how I was. Doctors have given me medication which doesn’t seem to work (proves you right once again). And I have been considering hypnotheropy.I am not the sort to kind of rely on people but I’m really asking what sort of methods can I think about to suppress this even a little. Because ill be honest its making me so depressed because I can barely leave my house. Can you please mail me on some advice on suppressing this please, my address is : wkabuddy@hotmail.co.uk

    Thank you

  • sarah

    Hi
    I felt I had to post again. I’m SC. Just a few months ago, I was a mess. I’m much better now. I can’t expect that the anxiety will go away for ever, but I did succeeed in making it stay for only a short time when it did visit me again. I have not completly stopped my meds yet, but I’m at half of what I was on when I wrote the May part.
    I think the best advice I can give anyone is to let go, stop trying to cure it and let it be there without focussing on it. It is very difficult to do espescially with the physical symptoms and the feeling of impending disaster. But you can do it. I’m not special. I’m emotional and sometimes moody. I’m wired that way. But I do exercise more and added some fish oils and b vitamins to myt diet. It might be placebo, but I do feel better. I feel prety good in fact.
    I think Paul says it best when he end his podcasts “No matter what, you’re going to be ok. “
    Thanks Paul and good luck Tony.

  • jimbu

    I definitely agree with this. There’s no miracle cure because what people are trying to get rid of is already part of them and every single person. The fact they try so hard and fail to find a cure causes them more anxiety due to self-blame. It’s just a message that got lost in translation. Hopefully people understand this. Thank you for sharing this great article.

  • bob jack johnson

    anxiety is so situational for me, and depends entirely on my stress level. lately Ive been having anxiety attacks while in conversation with people…..you want a challenege? try looking someone in the eye while your body pulses full of un-called-for adrenaline…..my god i felt like I was going to have a heart attack, or break down in tears, or explode. Here is the kicker……Im a young electrician, and I took on a large job by myself….full house with a 400 amp service, 20k plus on the quote….There has been a few hiccups (not major) and this being my first major project Its stressing me out like you wouldnt believe…..so when I talk to these people, I seem to get extremely nervous and paniky. It only seems to happen the moment I start thinking about it. Its also extremely ironic…..my only major fear, the trigger to all this anxiety, is the fear of being seen as anxious. I literally have anxiety because I dont want to be seen being anxious or nervous. Maybe there is an underlying reason…i dont know. But rambling about this has actually helped. Also remember…..anxiety is the most common disorder and so so so so so so so many people go through it.

  • Sarah

    I just read a comment I had made here last summer.
    I forgot. I give good advice. I should listen to ”not anxious self” now that I’m not feeling so good.
    I have had a bad relapse in january. I’m still in it. Not as bad but still pretty hard. It’s difficult. But AG helps. And support. And therapy. And even if I don’t like it, drugs.
    For me anyways.