World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, and this year’s theme was “MENTAL HEALTH IS FOR ALL”. However, the scenario around mental health in India is pretty much the same as it was almost a decade ago. For a country that accounts for more than 30% of suicides globally, there are still a lot of stigmas attached to mental illness and diagnosis is often followed by denial and hesitation to seek help.

Table of Contents:
What exactly is anxiety?
Statistics related to mental health conditions in India
Major anxiety disorders and their common symptoms
Different therapy options available for anxiety disorder?
What to expect from therapy?

What Exactly is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal brain mechanism of reacting to stress and potential danger. Occasional anxiety is typical, but anxiety disorders are different. They are a group of mental illnesses causing constant overwhelming fear and panic. They can make you avoid work, school, family functions and other social situations that might trigger the symptoms.

No fixed causes of anxiety have been identified yet. It is speculated to be a complex mix of many factors including genetics, brain chemistry, environmental stress, drug withdrawal, medical conditions etc.

Although some standard risk factors are causes of anxiety:

  1. History of mental health illness in family
  2. Childhood sexual abuse
  3. Trauma
  4. Negative life events
  5. Severe illness
  6. Substance abuse
  7. Low self-esteem

Statistics Related to Mental Health Conditions in India

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 90 million Indians or 7.5% of the population of 1.3 billion suffer from some form of mental disorder. However, India’s National Institute of Mental Health And Neurosciences (NIMHAN) – an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare – reveals a much higher number of nearly 150 million Indians needing active intervention and fewer than 30 million getting it.

Some Common Symptoms of Anxiety and Stress:

  • Tension, fear, uneasiness
  • Feeling of panic, doom, danger
  • Cold, sweaty, numb hands
  • Hyperventilation and shortness of breath
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Heart palpitation
  • Rumination over problem
  • Fidgeting and unable to stay calm
  • Inability to concentrate

Different Therapy Options Available for Anxiety Disorders

Psychotherapy or, as it is sometimes called, “talk therapy” is a type of counseling that helps you to learn how your emotions affect your behaviour and is one of the most employed anxiety attack remedies.

Some of the commonly employed methods are:

1. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

  • The most widely used therapy for anxiety attack remedy.
  • The goal of CBT therapy is to identify and understand your negative thoughts and replace them with more realistic ones and effective actions.
  • It takes time, but once you start recognizing your triggers, you learn how to manage your fear, panic and anxiety.

2. Exposure therapy

  • It is one of the most common CBT therapy methods used to treat SADs, PTSDs and phobias.
  • A method called “systemic desensitization” is employed during which your therapist slowly introduces you to anxiety-producing situations.
  • It has 3 steps:
    1. Relax: deep breathing, meditation
    2. List: creating a list of anxiety-producing triggers
    3. Expose: facing the anxiety-producing situation while using relaxation techniques if necessary.

3. Dialectical behavioural therapy

  • This is a highly effective type of CBT therapy that was originally meant to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD).
  • You learn to both accept your anxiety and change it.
  • It focuses on 4 powerful skills- mindfulness, distress tolerance, inter-personal effectiveness and emotional regulation.

4. Psycho-analytical therapy

  • The main purpose of this therapy is to resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Along with your therapist, you examine your thoughts, fears and desires to better understand and reduce your anxiety.
  • It is one of the most intensive forms of treatment.

5. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy

  • This helps people improve their moods by understanding and working with their biological and social rhythms.
  • It was originally developed for a single clinician- single patient situation but has now been modified to suit different scenarios including inpatient and outpatient.

6. Mindfulness based cognitive therapy

  • The off-cited definition of mindfulness by Jon Kabat Zinn states that, “mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”
  • This therapy is primarily designed for those who face repeated bouts of depression or chronic unhappiness.

What to Expect from Therapy?

The general misunderstanding about therapy is that you will start to feel better immediately. But most often, you feel worse before you start to feel better. In fact, feeling worse is taken to be a sign of genuine progress!

Therapy should not be thought of as a quick fix. The type of therapy you need, the skills acquired and the duration is unique to the type of anxiety disorder you have and the severity of symptoms.


Living with an anxiety disorder can be extremely frustrating. The constant fear of getting triggered and embarrassing outbursts can leave you feeling tired and restless. How often do you think “I have anxiety” but ignore the voice in your head? Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and all you have to do is muster up enough courage and ask for help. A sound mind can only lead to a healthy body and a productive life.

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