Who to See for Anxiety Treatment: Understanding Different Mental Health Providers

Friday, May 26

Understanding Who To See for Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety can be a debilitating mental health condition that can cause uncomfortable physical symptoms that affect your daily life. Getting screened for anxiety and finding the right mental health professional to help you get on an effective treatment plan is key to controlling panic attacks, decreasing feelings of anxiety, and improving your overall wellness.

Learn about treatment options and who you can see for anxiety treatment below.

How do I get screened for anxiety?

If you’ve been experiencing anxiety symptoms, like racing thoughts or the feeling of impending doom, you may need to be screened for anxiety. This is especially true if physical symptoms like a rapid heart rate or difficulty sleeping accompany these feelings.

An evaluation by a qualified mental health professional can help identify issues like social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or panic disorder. Understanding your anxiety type is a key component of developing a treatment that works for you.

Screenings include a series of questions like:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • How long have you had them?
  • When do you experience the worst symptoms?
  • Is there anything that makes your symptoms better?
  • What makes your symptoms worse?

One of the screening tools a mental health provider may use to evaluate your anxiety is the GAD-7: a clinical questionnaire that assesses symptom categories associated with stress or anxiety. 

The survey asks you to reflect on the last two weeks and take note of how often you’ve felt anxiety symptoms, and gives you a score from zero to 21:

  • 0-4: no notable anxiety symptoms
  • 5-9: mild anxiety symptoms
  • 10-14: moderate anxiety symptoms
  • 15+: severe anxiety symptoms

Treatment methods for anxiety disorder

Anxiety treatment can be two-fold and can include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.  What your treatment plan will look like depends on the kind of anxiety you have, the severity of your symptoms, your specific triggers, and your preferences.


Psychotherapy is the most commonly used treatment for anxiety and includes various approaches for reducing symptoms. These treatment approaches can help identify the root causes of a person’s anxiety and provide resources that they can use to manage their condition on their own.

Overall, therapy has been shown to strengthen a person’s coping skills, improve social and emotional functioning, and build self-esteem. While you can use medication alone to reduce some of the symptoms of anxiety, it’s highly recommended that those with anxiety work with a therapist or counselor. On the other hand, psychotherapy is often successfully used alone for people who can’t or don’t want to take medication.

Effective types of therapy for anxiety include but aren’t limited to:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Hypnotherapy  
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)


Medication can be used to help reduce the symptoms of many mental health conditions. Common medications involved in the treatment of mental health conditions include:

  • Antidepressants: Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro, and other antidepressant medications are FDA approved for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
  • Beta-blockers: Traditionally used to treat high blood pressure, beta-blockers are also effective at controlling physical symptoms of anxiety like adrenaline surges and a high heart rate.

Medication isn’t necessary for everyone who has anxiety, but it can be extremely helpful for many. Be sure to ask your doctor about any side effects you should expect with your prescriptions and what you can do to reduce them. More often than not, the benefits of taking anxiety medication outweigh the risks, but your doctor can tell you for sure.

Types of mental health professionals who treat anxiety disorders

Several types of health care providers treat anxiety disorders, but you don’t necessarily have to choose between them. Some mental health professionals only use therapy, some only use medication, and some are authorized to use both. In many cases, clients will have more than one clinician on their team of mental health professionals. This may include:

Mental health counselors

Meeting with a mental health counselor weekly (or at whatever frequency works best for you) can help you talk through your feelings of anxiety and come up with practical solutions to problems that are causing you stress. Talk therapy can be highly effective and accessible, making it an ideal first line of treatment for anxiety.

However, it’s important to remember that, unlike a psychiatrist, counselors cannot provide medical advice or prescribe medication. Many people with an anxiety disorder will have a psychiatrist to monitor medications and a counselor they see more frequently for therapy sessions.


Psychologists can provide various types of psychotherapy depending on their specialty and can also contribute clinical research to the field. Psychologists may work in schools, counseling centers, community groups, hospitals, and private office settings.

Clinical social workers

Clinical social workers (CSW) practice a subspecialty of social work but are also trained to provide therapy. CSWs cannot prescribe or monitor medications and generally work for agencies, schools, and community organizations. However, a private practice may hire a CSW if it’s especially relevant, like if the practice specifically provides therapy to assault survivors.


A psychiatrist prescribes medications and can help you distinguish anxiety from other mental health conditions that feature anxiety as a symptom, like bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychologists can also do this, but unlike psychology, psychiatry generally doesn’t involve any type of therapy.

If your anxiety symptoms prevent you from completing tasks or engaging in activities you love, making an appointment with a psychiatrist may be necessary.

How to find the right mental health professional

Finding the right mental health provider may seem intimidating, especially when you’re already managing anxiety symptoms. But taking the first step is often the hardest part. Here are some tips you can use to get started:

Get matched with a therapist at SonderMind 

At SonderMind, we screen new clients and connect them with a therapist who meets their individual needs. With SonderMind, instead of having to meet multiple providers, you answer several questions about yourself and your symptoms. 

Then, our platform will match you with qualified professionals to find the best fit — whether you prefer to meet with a local therapist in person, or keep your services entirely virtual.

Learn more about how our process works or get matched today.

Ask your primary care physician

Your primary care physician is always a good first resource for any health concerns you have. If you need to be seen by a specialist, they can refer you to a qualified provider they recommend. However, this isn’t always the case; with SonderMind, no referrals are required for those seeking mental health support. You can be matched with a SonderMind therapist quickly once you’ve filled out a short questionnaire.

It’s also a good idea to see your doctor to check your physical health and make sure any underlying medical conditions aren’t causing your anxiety symptoms. For example, thyroid problems can easily mimic anxiety symptoms and can’t be diagnosed without a blood test.

Check with your insurance provider

Your insurance provider should have a list of health care professionals in various specialties that are contracted with your insurer. This may be available online, or you may need to call member services to ask an agent for assistance. This can be helpful since you don’t have to verify whether or not your selected provider takes your insurance.

Contact local mental health organizations

If there are any local mental health organizations in your area, give them a call to ask for mental health care provider recommendations. Since the people who work within these groups often have insider knowledge of different providers online and in your area, they can let you know who to contact.

What are some other ways I can get help for anxiety?

Support groups are a great place to meet others who also have anxiety. Whether online or in-person, a support group gives you a place where you can share stories, healthy coping mechanisms, and helpful tips with people who know what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder. 

You can share as much or as little as you want and show up when it’s convenient for you, which makes it a great supplement to professional counseling and psychiatric care.

It may also be helpful to consider working on some long-term anxiety-management skills, such as:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Reaching out to your support network
  • Managing physical health
  • Eating a balanced diet

Get paired with the right provider for you today with SonderMind

Managing anxiety symptoms can seem impossible when you don’t have the right support. With SonderMind, you can get paired with a therapist whose specialties and experience line up with what you need. 

Our goal is to reduce barriers to anxiety treatment and make getting help for symptoms as easy as possible. We match with therapists who are accepting clients so you can get you into care quickly. 

Get matched with a SonderMind therapist now to start your journey to anxiety relief.

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