LIBR hopes to gather a sizable student population for their future research programs. courtesy Public Radio Tulsa

LIBR researcher on treating anxiety with exposure therapy

Laura Garrison discusses the negatives of anxiety and the exposure therapy treatment that LIBR is researching.

LIBR, the Laureate Institute for Brain research, is working to combat anxiety. Laura Garrison, one of the researchers at LIBR, spoke to The Collegian about a study which which she is involved in that studies patients who have high anxiety and determine if exposure therapy might help them.

According to the American Psychological Association, APA, exposure therapy is a “psychological treatment that was developed to help people confront their fears.” Laura Garrison works with Justin Feinstein, Clinical Neuropsychologist and director of LIBR’s Float Clinic and Research Center, on the anxiety study.

Mrs. Garrison explains that the study uses a simple breathing test where the patient breathes into a bag with 100 percent fresh air and another separate bag with 20 percent carbon dioxide to conclude if exposure therapy will be helpful to that particular person with high levels on anxiety.

As stated by Garrison, research shows that “exposure therapy is the gold standard at helping people with anxiety.”.
Garrison explained that anxiety is “such a prevalent issue” with people and can compromise people’s lives extensively.

She also stated, “Anxiety disorders are the sixth leading cause of worldwide disability, and the most common mental health issue.”

According to Garrison and her colleagues, anxiety usually starts in “childhood or adolescence and symptoms typically persist throughout life without treatment.” Without treatment, one’s quality of life can be affected negatively and create more problems such as failing a class due to the fear that comes with the disorder.

Garrison explains that there are common anxiety disorders, such as “panic disorder, specific phobias, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder.” Even though there are many different kinds of anxiety, many are treated with the same treatment, no matter which anxiety disorder has been diagnosed. Because of this, LIBR is trying to find other treatments to help combat the different disorders.

University of Tulsa students are invited to participate in the 10-week study and be compensated for their time. Participation entails exposure therapy and answering questions on one’s feelings before and after the treatment.
The patient needs to have some sort of anxiety disorder, diagnosed or not.

According to LIBR, the study is open to people who are:

-18 years and older
-Can understand enough English to complete the interviews and answer questions.
-Have access to a computer.
-NOT an international student visa. This is due to restrictions on international students’ research compensation.
-NOT currently experiencing severe/unstable health issues that need immediate medical attention

“The therapy is personalized to the anxiety issues the subject wants to work on,” explained Garrison. She also pointed out that research that was conducted previously has shown that the same type of therapy that the patients will experience “has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms for some patients.”

Garrison expresses her passion for her work saying, “I love to be able to help people who suffer from some of these mental health issues … to me, anything you can do to get patients into therapy that will actually help them is why I love my job.”

Simplified by Garrison, this breathing test “could possibly predict who will get the most benefits out of therapy before making that time commitment … it’s a study that provides the benefits of free therapy, getting paid for participating in the study, and helping with research that could benefit future anxiety patients in their treatment.”

If interested, call 918-502-5100.

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Post Author: Brooke-Lyne Holland