Can you ever get rid of anxiety?

Anxiety is extremely common. In fact, around 18% of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. With how prevalent anxiety is, a common question many people have is “Can you ever fully get rid of anxiety?” The quick answer is that while anxiety may always be present to some degree, there are many effective strategies to manage anxiety symptoms and live a fulfilling life.

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety arises from a complex interplay of biological and environmental factors. Genetics account for around 30-40% of someone’s risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Trauma and stressful life experiences, especially during childhood, also play a major role. Imbalances in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine in the brain underlie anxiety as well. Ultimately, anxiety is the result of both nature and nurture.

Can anxiety be cured?

Anxiety cannot be “cured” in the traditional sense, since it arises from our natural biological makeup and life experiences. However, anxiety can be effectively managed through lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication. With proper treatment, many people with anxiety are able to live fulfilling, successful lives.

Treatment options for anxiety

There are many evidence-based treatment options for anxiety, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Mindfulness-based therapies
  • Support groups
  • Exercise
  • A healthy diet
  • Adequate sleep
  • Stress management
  • Medications like SSRIs or SNRIs

Often a combination of psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and medication leads to the best outcomes. Working closely with a mental health professional to find the right treatment plan is crucial.

Can therapy and medication get rid of anxiety completely?

Therapy and medication can dramatically reduce anxiety symptoms and improve quality of life. However, some residual anxiety may always remain since our biology and past experiences wire our brains to be anxious to some degree. Therapy equips people with skills to better manage this residual anxiety. The goal is to help people live full, rewarding lives even with the presence of some anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered the gold standard psychotherapy for treating anxiety. CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns that fuel anxiety. Some techniques used in CBT include:

  • Cognitive restructuring to challenge anxious thoughts
  • Exposure therapy to gradually face feared situations
  • Relaxation techniques like deep breathing
  • Mindfulness to stay present

Numerous studies show CBT significantly reduces anxiety symptoms. For example, a 2015 analysis found that CBT cut anxiety scores by over 33% on average. The effects can last years after finishing treatment as people continue applying the skills they learned.

Does CBT get rid of anxiety completely?

CBT provides long-lasting anxiety relief for many people. However, since our brain wiring and life stressors can maintain some anxiety, CBT may not completely eliminate all anxiety. It equips people with skills to better manage remaining symptoms. Consistent practice of CBT techniques is key to lasting relief.

Exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a specific type of CBT that helps decrease anxiety by gradually exposing people to feared situations or objects. It works by breaking the association between the stimulus and anxious response. There are two forms of exposure therapy:

  • Systematic desensitization: Building a hierarchy of fears and slowly working up from least to most anxiety-provoking.
  • Flooding: Quickly exposing someone to their biggest fear.

Studies demonstrate exposure therapy reduces symptoms for phobias, PTSD, OCD, and more. It helps override maladaptive fear conditioning in the brain.

Can exposure therapy completely eliminate anxiety?

Research shows that 70-90% of people see significant long-term improvement from exposure therapy. However, some residual anticipatory anxiety could remain even after treatment since the underlying biological propensity is still present. Ongoing practice helps consolidate gains.

Mindfulness-based therapy

Mindfulness teaches people to non-judgmentally focus their awareness on the present moment. It reduces anxiety by decreasing physiological arousal and dwelling on negative thoughts. Mindfulness-based therapy includes:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Mindful movement (yoga, tai chi)
  • Acceptance of thoughts & feelings

Several meta-analyses of randomized trials confirm mindfulness-based therapy reliably reduces anxiety symptoms. It also provides broader life benefits beyond anxiety relief.

Can mindfulness therapy eliminate anxiety completely?

Research demonstrates mindfulness-based therapy can produce remission of anxiety disorders in up to 60% of people after treatment. However, mindfulness alone often provides only moderate anxiety relief compared to CBT. It is best combined with other therapies. With ongoing mindfulness practice, residual symptoms can continue improving.

Support groups

Joining an anxiety support group provides community, accountability, and inspiration for making lifestyle changes to better manage anxiety. Options include:

  • 12-step programs
  • Church groups
  • Peer-run support groups
  • Therapist-led groups
  • Online forums

Studies show support group participation enhances skills to cope with anxiety. It can also boost motivation to stick to treatment plans. However, care should be taken in choosing groups that promote evidence-based techniques.

Can support groups eliminate anxiety?

While extremely helpful, support groups alone are generally not enough to fully overcome anxiety disorders. They are most effective when combined with psychotherapy and medication as needed. However, the camaraderie and ongoing support of groups helps maintain treatment gains.

Lifestyle changes

Adjusting daily habits and lifestyle factors that worsen anxiety can have a profoundly positive impact. Important lifestyle tweaks include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a nutrient-rich diet
  • Cutting back caffeine
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Reducing alcohol
  • Managing stress
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Engaging in relaxing hobbies

Research confirms lifestyle interventions like exercise and healthy diet have significant anti-anxiety effects. They also empower people to take control of managing symptoms.

Can lifestyle changes alone eliminate anxiety?

While an important piece of the puzzle, lifestyle adjustments alone are often insufficient to completely overcome anxiety disorders. However, they meaningfully improve symptoms and quality of life. Maintaining lifestyle changes is also key to sustaining gains from therapy and medication.


Medications like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are effective medical treatments for anxiety. Other options include benzodiazepines for short-term relief. Benefits of anti-anxiety medication include:

  • Reducing persistent worrying
  • Lessening panic attacks
  • Improving sleep
  • Increasing ability to focus

Research shows medications like SSRIs achieve anxiety reduction of approximately 20-40%. Medication works best when paired with psychotherapy.

Can medication completely eliminate anxiety?

Medications provide substantial symptom relief to many people with anxiety. However, since they do not address underlying causes, they typically do not fully eliminate all anxiety by themselves. Residual symptoms often remain even when taking medication consistently. Ongoing use helps control these remaining symptoms.

Holistic approaches

Some people living with anxiety find additional symptom relief from holistic approaches like:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal remedies
  • Essential oils
  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis

A few smaller studies show some promise for these alternatives. However, more research is needed on their efficacy. They are considered a supplemental approach to standard treatment.

Can holistic remedies alone eliminate anxiety completely?

Currently there is not enough evidence demonstrating holistic approaches can fully cure anxiety disorders on their own. However, some people do experience a reduction in symptoms which provides comfort. Holistic remedies are best used in conjunction with professional treatment.

Will anxiety ever go away completely?

Given what we know about the complex causes of anxiety disorders, it is unlikely anxiety will be permanently “cured” or eliminated entirely in everyone. Our biological makeup combined with life experiences essentially wires our brains to be anxious to some degree. The goal of treatment is learning to manage this hardwiring.

However, with comprehensive treatment and ongoing management, anxiety symptoms can be substantially reduced in most people. Severity often progressively improves over time. Anxiety becomes much less of a hindrance to a fulfilling life.

Learning to live with anxiety

Since some anxiety will likely always remain given our biology, an important therapeutic goal is learning to live with some level of anxiety. This is achieved by:

  • Reframing relationship to anxiety
  • Accepting anxiety as part of life
  • Releasing need for control
  • Resisting catastrophizing
  • Engaging life despite anxiety
  • Making accommodations as needed

With this mindset shift combined with professional help, people find they can still live bold, purpose-driven lives while managing residual anxiety symptoms.

Recovery is a journey

The process of overcoming anxiety is an ongoing journey full of ups and downs rather than a quick linear fix. Treatment takes consistent effort and commitment. Even with the best professional help and lifestyle habits, periodic setbacks are normal.

Self-compassion is crucial when encountering challenges. The key is building resilience by continuing to practice skills and make positive choices each day to manage symptoms and pursue life goals. With time and perseverance, anxiety becomes progressively less limiting.


While anxiety cannot be completely “cured”, many effective treatments exist to manage symptoms and enhance quality of life. Combining psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and medication as needed leads to the best outcomes. It is also important to adjust expectations and learn how to live with residual anxiety through mindfulness techniques.

Recovery takes commitment to an ongoing process full of ups and downs. With consistent effort using professional support and self-help strategies, significant improvement and fulfilling life is possible. While anxiety may always exist given our brain wiring, its impact can be reduced tremendously.

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