Anxiety Treatment WIthout Medication
Three Options for Treating Anxiety Without Medication
Anxiety disorders, which affect 4.5% of the population worldwide, are a common affliction in Smithtown. This class of psychological disorders is characterized by overwhelming and irrational fear and panic, and includes generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobic disorder, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder. It is common for anxiety to be treated primarily with prescription medications, usually a class of drug called an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). SSRIs, which are used to treat both anxiety and depressive disorders, work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain; this neurotransmitter is a key factor in mood regulation, and many mood disorders are characterized by an imbalance in serotonin levels. Although SSRIs can be helpful for anxiety in Smithtown and elsewhere, they often cause side effects including loss of sexual libido, increased appetite, and weight gain. Many people also find that SSRIs make them feel empty or indifferent, or cause other strange or unpleasant feelings or affective states. Because of the side effects of SSRIs, many patients would prefer to seek anxiety treatment without medication. Fortunately, there are non-pharmaceutical treatments available for anxiety disorders. Three of the most commonly used and most effective are: cognitive behavioral therapy; holistic medicine approaches, such as exercise, meditation, and herbal remedies; and neurofeedback therapy, a cutting-edge approach to managing psychological disorders that has recently become available in the Smithtown area.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety
Cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT, is one of the most widely used methods of anxiety treatment without medication. Anxiety disorders are characterized by fearful thoughts and feelings that are often irrational. CBT helps patients identify ways of thinking about events and situations in life that cause them to feel anxious, worried, and afraid, and to realize that these thoughts are probably not realistic. The person can then learn to change the maladaptive behaviors—for example, avoiding social contact due to social anxiety disorder—that result from the irrational ways of thinking into which they had become conditioned over time. CBT is a highly effective mode of anxiety treatment without medication. Indeed, CBT and other psychotherapies arguably do more to address the “real” problems underlying anxiety disorders—maladaptive and irrational ways of thinking and feeling, and resulting patterns of behavior—than SSRIs and other medications, which only treat the physiological aspects of the disorders.
Alternative and Holistic Medicine Approaches to Anxiety Treatment Without Medication
There are several alternative, complementary, or holistic approaches to anxiety treatment without medication, which can also be used as an adjunct along with cognitive behavioral therapy. Holistic approaches to anxiety disorder treatment often emphasize lifestyle changes that can help improve mood and overall mental and physical health. This often involves better dietary choices and developing a regular exercise routine. Improvements to diet and exercise practices can actually help in anxiety disorders, as well as for other conditions such as depression. Another alternative anxiety treatment is kava, an herbal remedy that originated in Polynesia. Kava is actually endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) for treating mild to moderate anxiety disorders. Kava contains a group of naturally occurring chemicals called kava-lactones, which lend them sedative and anxiolytic effects. Kava is safe to use, although the AAFP recommends that people taking it avoid frequent or excessive alcohol consumption, and advises that it should not be used by people who are taking other drugs that interfere with liver function. Kava is a safer, milder alternative to drugs like SSRIs, and has far fewer and milder side effects.
Neurofeedback Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
Neurofeedback therapy, which is now available in Smithtown, is backed by decades of rigorous scientific research and is well substantiated by theory and in practice. Neurofeedback may be one of the best approaches to anxiety treatment without medication. This technologically sophisticated therapy uses EEG biofeedback to identify and correct imbalances in brainwave regulation. Biofeedback works by allowing a person to become aware of normally automatic and unconscious physiological processes, such as skin temperature, heart rate, or in this case, neural oscillation frequencies. Neurofeedback therapy often uses a software system that resembles a video game, in which objects on a screen move and change in response to the desired changes in brainwave frequency. Neurofeedback is safe, noninvasive, and free of side effects, and it has been proven highly effective for treating anxiety disorders. Anxiety is often associated with an excess of beta frequencies, which are associated with alert mental states, in certain brain areas. By helping people guide their brains into more relaxed alpha and theta frequency states, neurofeedback provides an innovative and highly effective approach to anxiety treatment without medication.