Is Anxiety Disorder Reversible?

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 22, 2021

Is Anxiety Disorder Reversible?

Complete Question

Why does anxiety affect the body physically, is it totally reversible, and does that mean I can get better for good?

Answer

Anxiety is a state of apprehension that results from anticipating something we think might be dangerous or unpleasant. In other words, anxiety occurs when we fear we could be in danger. For more information, visit our “Anxiety 101,” “What Causes Anxiety,” or “The Anxiety Mechanism” articles.

Fearing you could be in danger activates the body’s stress response, which secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they cause body-wide physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with the threat – to either fight or flee.[1][2]

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The stress response, an integral part of the body’s survival mechanism, is often referred to as the fight or flight response, emergency response, or the fight, flight or flee response since some people freeze like a deer caught in headlights when they are afraid.

Stress responses stress the body, and a body that’s under stress can exhibit symptoms. Therefore, anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress. We call them anxiety symptoms because anxious behavior is the main source of the stress that causes the body to become stressed and symptomatic.

To answer your first question, anxiety affects the body physically because the stress response changes the body physically. Visit our “Stress Response” article for more information about the many body-wide changes brought about by the stress response.

When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes caused by the stress response.

When stress responses occur too frequently, however, such as from overly anxious behavior, the body can’t complete its recovery. Incomplete recovery can cause the body to remain in a state of semi stress response readiness. We call this state “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are stimulants.

Visit our “Stress-Response Hyperstimulation” article for more information about the many dramatic changes caused by hyperstimulation.

Hyperstimulation is also often referred to as “hyperarousal,” “HPA axis dysfunction,” or “nervous system dysregulation.”[3][4]

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Hyperstimulation can cause the changes of an active stress response even though a stress response hasn’t been activated, which is the reason why hyperstimulation can cause chronic anxiety symptoms.

To answer your second and third questions, yes, anxiety and its symptoms are totally reversible…and for good. When you identify and successfully address your anxious behavior, your body’s stress will diminish. As your body’s stress diminishes, it stops exhibiting symptoms of stress and returns to normal symptom-free health.

Knowing WHAT to do and DOING the right work eliminates anxiety disorder and its symptoms. For more information on what that work is, visit our “The Two Levels of Anxiety Disorder Recovery” article.

The most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder is with the combination of good self-help information and professional therapy from experienced anxiety disorder therapists[5][6] who understand the many underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety.

To that end, the Recovery Support area of our website contains a wealth of important self-help information required for recovery. We also have experienced anxiety disorder therapists who are specially trained to help people overcome anxiety disorder as quickly and efficiently as possible.

All of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists have personally experienced anxiety disorder and have overcome it. Their personal experience with anxiety disorder combined with their Master’s Degree and above professional training makes them an excellent choice when wanting to achieve lasting success over anxiety disorder and its symptoms.

Moreover, getting therapy via teletherapy, distanced therapy, or e-therapy (telephone or online therapy) is as effective, if not more so than in-person therapy.[7][8]

All of our recommended therapists are experienced at working with clients via distanced therapy and new technologies. We’ve found distanced therapy to be especially effective when working with anxious clients.

If you are struggling with anxiety disorder and its symptoms, or have what seems like out-of-control worry, consider connecting with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists. Working with an experienced therapist is the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder.[9]

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequently Asked Questions page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Is Anxiety Disorder Reversible?

References

1. Folk, Jim. “The Stress Response.” Anxiety Attacks, Anxietycentre.com, 2020, https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-disorders/symptoms/stress-response/

2. "Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016.

3. Elbers, Jorina, et al. "Wired for Threat: Clinical Features of Nervous System Dysregulation in 80 Children." Pediatric Neurology, Dec 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0887899418302716

4. Teixeira, Renata Roland, et al. “Chronic Stress Induces a Hyporeactivity of the Autonomic Nervous System in Response to Acute Mental Stressor and Impairs Cognitive Performance in Business Executives.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4373764/.

5. Hofmann, Stefan G., et al. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584580/.

6. Leichsenring, Falk. “Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Gold Standard for Psychotherapy?” JAMA, American Medical Association, 10 Oct. 2017, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2654783.

7. Thompson, Ryan Baird, "Psychology at a Distance: Examining the Efficacy of Online Therapy" (2016). University Honors Theses. Paper 285.

8. Kingston, Dawn.“Advantages of E-Therapy Over Conventional Therapy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Dec. 2017, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-pregnant-pause/201712/advantages-e-therapy-over-conventional-therapy.

9. DISCLAIMER: Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, and because each person will have a unique mix of symptoms and underlying factors, recovery results may vary. Variances can occur for many reasons, including due to the severity of the condition, the ability of the person to apply the recovery concepts, and the commitment to making behavioral change.