Is there Brain Surgery for Anxiety?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hi, I’m 21 years old and I’ve been suffering from panic attacks and anxiety disorder since I was 18. I’ve tried physiotherapy and medication but it doesn’t seem to work. For a while i thought i was cured and then I had a relapse. I had already given up on my chance to be free of panic when I remembered to ask my psychiatrist if for any chance is there any brain surgery that can be done to “free me” from anxiety? I asked this because i read that anxiety comes from an amygdala in our brain. My psychiatrist said to me that it is not possible, that it would be too invasive and that the only possible surgery for this would be a lobotomy, and of course that is out of question for me! But i am from Portugal and around here metal health doctors are not so good, not so well informed and above all, not familiar with the new achievements in science and mental health issues.

So my question is: is there any brain surgery that can be done to cure anxiety? Thank you.

A: I’m sorry. There is no quick fix for anxiety – brain surgery or otherwise. But there is medication and therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be the most effective type for anxiety.

If you can’t find a good therapist in your area, you could do some reading and work on helping yourself. There are two excellent books by David Burns: “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” and “When Panic Attacks: The New Drug Free Therapy for Anxiety that can Change Your Life.” Another book is by David Barlow and Michelle Grake. It’s called “Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic: Workbook.” These books will give you helpful techniques for managing anxiety that you can practice on your own.

Anxiety can take a lot of the joy out of life. Your wish for brain surgery speaks to just how desperate it sometimes makes you feel. I hope you will continue to look for the help you need. Meanwhile, do give the books a try.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Is there Brain Surgery for Anxiety?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/14/is-there-brain-surgery-for-anxiety/