How hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help those with anxiety disorders
Explore the ways that the healing powers of oxygen can aid in the treatment of the most common mental illness in the U.S.
As the most common mental illness in the United States, 40 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders every year. Despite their prevalence and the fact that they’re highly treatable, only 36.9% of people with anxiety disorders get treatment. 
Keep reading to learn more about anxiety disorders and the most common treatment options, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
What is an anxiety disorder?
Unlike anxiety that arises when you have to make an important decision or manage a problem at work, an anxiety disorder is a type of mental health condition that is characterized by:
- Anxiety interfering with your ability to function
- Reacting to an event that triggers your emotions in a way that’s out of proportion to the actual danger
- The inability to control your responses to certain situations [2,3]
What are the most common types of anxiety disorders?
The most common types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – persistent worry about activities or events that is out of proportion to the circumstance
- Panic disorders – recurring episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear that reach a peak within minutes (called panic attacks)
- Phobias – intense anxiety when you’re exposed to a certain object/situation and desire to avoid it
- Separation anxiety – childhood disorder of excessive anxiety when separated from parents or parental figures [2,3]
Mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) share similar traits to anxiety disorders.
What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?
The symptoms of an anxiety disorder differ greatly depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but there are some common physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms that those with an anxiety disorder face such as:
- Clammy hands
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Obsessive, uncontrollable thoughts
- Inability to sit still
- Difficulty sleeping
- Stomach problems [2,3]
What causes anxiety disorders?
Like other forms of mental illness such as depression, anxiety disorders are not caused by personal weaknesses or character flaws. Instead, researchers suspect that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of facts such as:
- Long-term stress that causes a chemical imbalance in the brain
- Experiencing a trauma
- An underlying health issue like heart disease, diabetes, or withdrawal from alcohol or other substances
- Inherited from a blood relative [2,3]
How are anxiety disorders treated?
Anxiety is not a condition that can be mitigated with self-discipline or a change in attitude. Anxiety disorders must be treated like any other health problem, and luckily they are highly treatable. 
Anxiety disorders are most commonly treated with a combination of medication and talk therapy that’s uniquely tailored to each person through a treatment plan from their healthcare provider. 
Medications such as anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants improve symptoms and help those with anxiety disorders function better in their daily lives. Talk therapy or counseling helps those with anxiety disorders manage the emotional response to their illness and better understand and manage symptoms. 
Can hyperbaric oxygen therapy help people with anxiety disorders?
Studies are being continually conducted to assess the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in helping people with anxiety disorders, depression, and other types of mental illness.
When undergoing HBOT, the body’s healing response system is stimulated as more oxygen is circulated throughout tissues and the circulatory system, which benefits those with mental health conditions. The increased levels of oxygen in the brain also helps reduce anxiety and stress levels, while fostering a calming effect.
A study was conducted on the effects of HBOT on depression and anxiety in patients with incomplete spinal cord injury. The results found that HBOT has a similar or equal effect on depression and anxiety as psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy), and significantly improves nerve function and the ability to successfully complete activities of daily living for patients with incomplete spinal cord injury. 
How we can help
At Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center, we’ve seen patients with anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses experience improved quality of life by adding hyperbaric oxygen therapy to their existing treatment plans.
“We see a lot of patients suffering from chronic conditions like long COVID, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that have caused them to face mental health issues like depression and anxiety,” shares Erika Jordan, hyperbaric director and founder of Hyperbaric Healing Treatment Center. “These patients have found great relief from both their physical and mental symptoms after following a hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment plan.”
Our trained, caring team of hyperbaric specialists are ready to answer any questions you may have. We welcome you to contact us today.
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