Anxiety Treatment – What is popular vs. what is effective.

As a psychologist in the Sacramento, CA area, I am often asked by my clients, “How can I overcome anxiety?”. As it turns out, my favorite new website, Curetogether.com, may have the best available answer. Curetogether.com has compiled over 9400 anxiety “treatment effectiveness ratings” from site visitors who volunteered to describe their symptoms, the treatments they have tried, and their perception of the effectiveness of each of these treatments. The site owners use these ratings to generate some amazing infographics which tell interesting stories about the treatment people receive and the treatment that actually works. From the website, here is their list of the top 5 treatments that clients report produced a “major improvement” in depressive symptoms:

For anyone who has ever recovered from anxiety, this list might not sound surprising, however, I am constantly amazed at how little attention mental health practitioners pay to these highly effective treatments. Exercise helps our bodies regulate hormone levels (keeping us healthy and happy), and pets can serve as a fantastic support system when everything else in life feels stressful.

What is equally amazing is the data view provided here. The site charted treatments on a graph representing effectiveness on one axis and popularity on another and created two quadrants of treatments that are “surprisingly effective” (i.e., not very popular but rated is very effective) and “popular but less helpful” (self explanatory). Meditation / Prayer, positive thinking, and caffeine avoidance were listed in the “surprisingly effective” treatment group, while Paxil, Effexor, and medical marijuana were listed in the “popular but less helpful” group.

This research is updated live on their site and the most recent interactive view of the depression treatment infographic can be found here.