First Line Treatment For Anxiety: Things You Need To Know

First Line treatment for anxiety

Anxiety is a common mental health concern that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options available for the initial anxiety stages. These treatments have been extensively researched and be effective for a range of anxiety disorders. In this blog, we will explore what a  first-line treatment for anxiety is, some types, and the benefits of these treatments.

What Is First-Line Treatment For Anxiety?

First-line treatment for anxiety refers to the initial treatment options that healthcare professionals recommend for anxiety disorders. These treatments are typically the most effective and safe options for managing anxiety. They are often tried before more invasive or aggressive treatments are considered. First-line treatments may include various therapies or medications. The specific first-line treatment recommended will depend on the individual’s symptoms and medical history. Healthcare professionals will work closely with their patients to determine the best course of treatment.

Types Of First-Line Treatment For Anxiety

Given below are some types of first-line treatment options for anxiety:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often considered a first-line treatment for anxiety. It is an evidence-based therapy that is effective for a variety of anxiety disorders. CBT helps individuals to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to anxiety. In addition, it provides them with coping skills and strategies to manage their symptoms. CBT is typically a short-term therapy that can be completed in as few as 12 sessions. This makes it a convenient and accessible treatment option for many people.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a relatively new form of therapy that is gaining popularity as a first-line treatment for anxiety. ACT helps individuals to identify their values and make meaningful commitments. It also teaches them acceptance and mindfulness skills to help manage their anxiety symptoms.

Unlike traditional cognitive-behavioral therapies, ACT does not focus on challenging negative thoughts. Rather, it focuses on changing the relationship individuals have with their thoughts and feelings. ACT is typically a short-term therapy that can be completed in as few as 8 sessions.

Exposure and Response Prevention

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that is often considered a first-line treatment for anxiety disorders. ERP involves gradually exposing individuals to feared situations or objects while preventing them from engaging in compulsive behaviors or rituals. This can ultimately reduce the frequency and intensity of their symptoms. ERP is typically a short-term therapy that can be completed in as few as 12-20 sessions, making it a convenient and accessible treatment option for many people.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a form of therapy that has been increasingly used as a first-line treatment for anxiety. MBSR helps individuals to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations in the present moment, without judgment or reactivity. This can help to reduce anxiety by increasing individuals’ ability to regulate their emotions and respond to stressors more effectively.

MBSR typically involves a combination of mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other mind-body techniques, and can be completed in as few as 8-10 sessions. MBSR is an accessible and non-invasive treatment option for many people with anxiety.

Group therapy

Group therapy is a first-line treatment option for anxiety that involves participating in therapy sessions with a small group of other individuals who have similar symptoms or concerns. It provides individuals with a supportive and validating environment where they can share their experiences, learn from others, and practice coping skills in a safe and structured setting.

Group therapy can be led by a trained therapist, and may involve various treatment approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based interventions. It is typically a cost-effective and accessible treatment option for many people with anxiety.

Family-based therapy

Family-based therapy is a first-line treatment option for anxiety that involves working with the individual’s family members or significant others as part of the treatment process. The type of therapy recognizes that anxiety can affect not only the individual but also their relationships with others. It is commonly delivered for children and teenagers who are dependent on their families, but for adults as well.

This type of therapy helps to improve communication and problem-solving skills within the family and can involve techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and relaxation training. Family-based therapy is typically a short-term treatment option that can be completed in as few as 8-12 sessions and can be a helpful treatment option for individuals with anxiety and their families.

First-Line Medications

Here are the first-line medications used to treat anxiety:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): These are antidepressant medications that work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. They are considered first-line medications for anxiety because they are effective in treating a range of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): These are another type of antidepressant medication. These work by increasing levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. They are also considered first-line medications for anxiety and can be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
  • Benzodiazepines: These are a class of medications that are often used to treat anxiety on a short-term basis. They work by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which can help to reduce anxiety. Benzodiazepines can be effective for treating acute anxiety symptoms but are generally not recommended for long-term use due to the risk of tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal.
  • Beta-Blockers: These are medications that are typically used to treat high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions, but can also be effective in reducing physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat and trembling. They are sometimes used on a short-term basis to help manage anxiety symptoms in specific situations, such as public speaking.

Benefits Of First-Line Treatment

Here are some benefits of first-line treatments for anxiety:

  • Effective: First-line treatments for anxiety are effective in reducing symptoms. These help in improving the quality of life for many individuals with anxiety disorders.
  • Evidence-Based: These treatments are based on years of research and clinical experience. Also, these are effective in multiple studies and clinical trials.
  • Accessible: Many first-line treatments for anxiety are widely available and accessible, including therapy and medication options. They can be accessed through mental health clinics, primary care providers, and online resources.
  • Safe: When used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider, these for anxiety are generally safe and well-tolerated. They have a lower risk of adverse effects than many other types of treatments.
  • Cost-Effective: Many first-line treatments for anxiety, such as therapy and some medications, are cost-effective and covered by insurance. This can make them an accessible treatment option for many people.
  • Customizable: First-line treatments for anxiety can be tailored to the individual’s specific needs and preferences. Moreover, these can be combined with other treatments to optimize outcomes.
  • Empowering: Completing a first-line treatment for anxiety can give individuals a sense of control over their symptoms. This can improve their confidence in managing their anxiety in the future.

Does First-Line Work For Severe Anxiety?

First-line treatments for anxiety are often effective for individuals with mild to moderate anxiety symptoms. However, for individuals with severe anxiety symptoms, first-line treatments may not be sufficient on their own. They may need to be combined with other interventions, such as more intensive therapy or medication options. It is important to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare provider for severe anxiety symptoms.


In conclusion, First-line treatments for anxiety are effective and evidence-based options for managing anxiety. Mild and moderate cases can conveniently recover with the help of first-line treatment. Also, chances are high for such cases that the symptoms may never reappear. In addition, these treatments are accessible, safe, and customizable, and can provide individuals with a sense of control over their symptoms. It is important to work with a qualified healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Anxiety is a common mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension. If you have any queries regarding Online Anxiety Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Anxiety therapy session.

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