Therapy v medication? How to choose the best treatment for anxiety

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Medication is often prescribed as a quick-fix but therapy can be more helpful in the long-run, if accessible. Here’s how to work out what is best for you

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a soaring demand for mental health services, with an estimated 1.6 million people in England waiting for specialised support, and another 8 million who would benefit but whose deterioration in mental health is not considered serious enough to even get on the waiting list. Anxiety rates have been recorded as rising significantly between 2008 (the year of the financial crash) and 2018, with increases in all age groups under 55, but trebling in young adults.

The number of prescriptions issued for anti-anxiety medication has also been rising. Earlier this year, research was published showing that between 2003 and 2008 the use of drugs to treat anxiety was steady, but by 2018 it had risen considerably. During that earlier period, new anti-anxiety prescriptions rose from 25 or 26 per 1,000 person years at risk – a measure of the prevalence of anxiety – to 43.6 in 2018. Nearly twice the number of women are being prescribed medication as men.

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