Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions affecting more than 40 million adults each year. Genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events may all be contributing factors that can lead to anxiety. When left untreated, symptoms of anxiety can worsen, negatively impacting daily life and relationships. The good news however is that anxiety is highly treatable. However, anxiety treatment is not necessarily one size fits all and what may work for one person may not work for another.
Traditional anxiety medications, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. However, they are not always effective for everyone, may have adverse effects for many, and are often only a temporary solution with symptoms returning once the medication is stopped. Some people living with anxiety may prefer an alternative treatment that doesn’t require the use of medication.
If you’re interested in an alternative approach to treating anxiety, here are some effective therapies that don’t require medication that may be able to help.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved therapy proven to be effective in treating a variety of common mental health conditions such as anxiety. During this non-invasive treatment, magnetic pulses are used to calm parts of the brain that contribute to your fight or flight response and how you react to fear or threats, altering how you manage stress as well as your reaction to challenging circumstances which would normally trigger anxiety.
TMS treatments have few side effects, making them appealing to patients that are made uncomfortable by the side effects of traditional MSRIs. It has been proven to provide long-term results well after the treatment has finished. TMS providers design individualized treatment plans which are consistently monitored and adjusted based on your unique mental health needs, increasing the success of treatment. While the typical treatment lasts for 5 sessions a week for a total of 6 weeks, a new protocol for Accelerated TMS therapy can be completed in just 1 week with a total of 10 sessions per day for just 5 days.
An ancient practice commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that has become increasingly popular in the western world, acupuncture is known to treat a variety of health issues. During acupuncture treatment, the practitioner inserts small needles into precise pressure points on the body, depending on your individual health concerns.
Studies show acupuncture may be an effective treatment for anxiety with fewer adverse side effects than common anxiety medication providing quicker results than talk therapy. The needles used during the treatment are inserted in specific points in the body to stimulate feel-good hormones and reduce stress hormones like cortisol, helping your body manage stress more effectively while reducing anxiety symptoms.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
This course of alternative therapy typically is performed in a group setting which lasts for about 8-10 weeks. In MBSR, participates are directed to practice mindfulness through a variety of techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and body scans which are known to lower stress levels and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression with no adverse side effects. Mindfulness is known to be a productive treatment for anxiety, helping to change an individual’s relationships with their thoughts, allowing them to become more aware of the present moment, reducing emotional reactivity to certain triggers, and learning to accept their present experience without judgment.
Commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, medicinal herbs are great for maintaining general health but can be an effective treatment for a variety of physical and mental health issues including anxiety. Some medicinal herbs can be ingested as a supplement or steeped in hot water while others are applied topically in oils or balms. Some of the top medicinal herbs used to treat anxiety include:
- Lavender: A sweet-smelling floral providing a calming effect that can be used both orally or topically to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Chamomile: A common botanical that has been clinically proven to reduce symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder with frequent long-term use.
- Turmeric: A medicinal root taken orally in drinks and supplements that is proven to boost levels of serotonin and dopamine while also reducing inflammation which is often linked to anxiety. Research shows it may be as effective as common mood-stabilizing medications with no side effects. Turmeric is often taken with black pepper to increase its effects.
- Ashwagandha: An adaptogen commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, this medicinal herb is taken orally and helps your body adapt to stress, reducing anxiety symptoms.