Efficacy of positive psychological interventions in anxiety treatment

Vicki Jeng BSA, Travis Pham BSA, Regina Baronia MD, MEd, Chanaka Kahathuduwa MBBS, MPhil, PhD, Wail Amor MD, Yasin Ibrahim MD


Psychiatry traditionally emphasizes psychopharmacology and psychotherapy as the primary modalities of treatment. Recently, however, positive psychological interventions are increasingly recognized as a treatment modality that aims to improve a patient’s general wellness. Our goal is to review published data on the efficacy of positive psychological interventions (PPI) in the treatment of anxiety. A systematic literature search was conducted on PubMed, Web of Science, and PsycINFO. The keywords used were “positive psychology” and “treatment of anxiety.” The search involved all articles published until 2019. To meet inclusion criteria, articles needed to report using positive psychological interventions with patients diagnosed with anxiety or suffering from anxiety symptoms. The main outcome measure was a change in anxiety levels post-intervention. Our initial literature search of 1010 articles was narrowed down to 6 papers that met the inclusion criteria. Interventions used were body-mind-spirit therapy, online positive psychology modules, self-help books, positive activity intervention, future-directed therapy, and mindfulness-based therapies. Pre- and post-treatment anxiety was measured using scales such as State Anxiety Inventory, Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-Short form, Overall Anxiety Severity, Impairment Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale–Self-Report, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, Profile of Mood States, Brief Symptom Inventory, and Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale. In all six included studies, PPI decreased anxiety symptoms with variable effect sizes. The review suggests that PPI offers therapeutic benefits to patients diagnosed with anxiety symptoms. Thus, more research is needed to examine the feasibility of incorporating PPI into the traditional mental health care.

Keywords: positive psychology, anxiety, review

Article citation: Jeng V, Pham T, Baronia R, Kahathuduwa C, Amor W, Ibrahim Y. Efficacy of positive psychological interventions in anxiety treatment. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles 2022;10(43):11–17
From: Department of Psychiatry, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas
Submitted: 12/20/2021
Accepted: 3/24/2022
Conflicts of interest: none
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