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Soothing therapy can keep anxious people from dropping out of treatments

Anxiety disorders and related problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are among the most common mental health conditions and although effective therapies for these often debilitating disorders exist, many sufferers find them very difficult to engage with or complete.

health and fitness Updated: May 20, 2016 09:53 IST
Anxiety
Anxiety disorders and related problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are among the most common mental health conditions.(Shutterstock)

People with anxiety disorders often refuse or drop out of therapies as it makes them weak and infirm, says a study, suggesting that making mental health treatments easy may be really helpful and beneficial to them.

Anxiety disorders and related problems such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are among the most common mental health conditions and although effective therapies for these often debilitating disorders exist, many sufferers find them very difficult to engage with or complete.

Read: Online therapy is better at treating depression and anxiety

Canadian researchers decided to look for ways to make treatment easier to handle for those who need it most.

The team focused on safety behaviours -- things people do to make themselves feel less anxious.

“Giving patients greater agency is much more effective,” said Adam Radomsky from Concordia University in a paper published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

The findings showed that using new safety behaviours during exposure therapy was slightly more helpful to participants than their usual or typical safety behaviours. (Shutterstock)

The team followed 157 participants -- ranging from people with low-level anxieties to those diagnosed with OCD -- as they adapted old habits with new ones that they could use to avoid anxiety during exposure therapy.

The therapist exposed the participants to feared objects or situations without any danger.

The findings showed that using new safety behaviours during exposure therapy was slightly more helpful to participants than their usual or typical safety behaviours.

Read: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder emerges in adulthood for some

“Under the right conditions, safety behaviours have the potential to make the therapy more effective and more acceptable,” added another researcher Hannah Levy.

The findings will help reduce the number of people who refuse or drop out of cognitive behavioural therapies and should result in more people getting the help that they need, the authors noted.

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