Are Any Anxiety Disorders Curable Or Are They Chronic Conditions?

Dr. Szymanski answers the question: 'Are Any Anxiety Disorders Curable?'

— -- Question: Are any anxiety disorders curable or are they chronic conditions?

Answer: The thing to keep in mind about an anxiety disorder is that, what neuroscientists are telling us about learning is that we learn new information next to old information, we learn new habits next to old habits. That is, the new information doesn't overwrite or erase, or get us to forget old information. So for example, if you talk with someone who smoked for 20 years and then they have quit for 20 years, "Do you still have an urge to smoke?" They report, "Yes, I do." But the frequency and intensity of those urges has decreased over time.

The same thing with an anxiety disorder -- if you have a long-learning history of struggling with anxiety, that old learning is still with you. As you learn more effective ways to deal with your anxiety, that new learning happens next to old learning. So the more positive experiences you have, the more likely these new habits or the new behaviors are going to get elicited in certain situations and the more likely it is that you can manage those situations.

But in periods of stress, and transition and physical illness, you might see an increase in your anxiety symptoms -- don't worry about that. Just revert back to the new learning that you might have learned either in therapy, or you might have just learned on your own.

But the idea is, that it is something you are going to have to manage. Anything that you've learned, anything that's been in your life in some significant ways stays there. And it might get elicited at different points of your life, but you can go for long periods of time without major anxiety symptoms, learning to manage this and keep this in the back burner of your life.

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