Seeking The Best Treatment For Anxiety Without Medication

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 8, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Dawn Brown, LPC

Many people think that the most natural treatment for people with anxiety symptoms and/or disorders is to medicate with various kinds and brands of antidepressants and sedatives. While medication can be helpful in many cases, it is not always necessary for anxiety treatment. Medication may also come with numerous unwanted side effects like nausea or effects on blood sugar. If you are seeking anxiety treatment without medication, there are great options available to you. Treating an anxiety disorder without medication requires some effort and helpful tools like cognitive behavioral therapy or deep breathing techniques to help fight anxiety. Whether you have a generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or other forms of anxiety disorders, treatment is available without the use of medication.

Learning New Lifestyle Habits Can Be The Medicine You Need

Therapy As Primary Form Of Treatment

There are many forms of therapy that wellness professionals utilize to help patients through anxiety disorders. A common and successful way of treatment is Cognitive Behavior Therapy. This is a kind of therapy that teaches anxiety disorder patients how what they think makes an impact on their anxiety in everyday life. The therapist’s aim is to help the individual change their way of thinking, thus decreasing anxiety and its symptoms.

How does this happen? Many patients that have an anxiety disorder attend CBT sessions over a period of several months. Sessions are often catered to the needs and personal experiences of the patient. These sessions are commonly just an hour a week for less than a year. By the time Cognitive Behavior Therapy has been completed, individuals tend to feel far less anxious and prepared to handle the cause of their anxieties with a deep breath.

If you are hesitant about seeking help from a mental health professional for CBT, it’s understandable. This is especially true if you feel anxious about leaving your home or if you must use public transportation to get to the psychologist’s office. However, studies have shown that CBT conducted over the telephone is feasible and successful. Without the need for medication, a mental health professional can treat anxiety over the phone, in an online chat, or even by email.

Given the various anxiety disorders that exist, having the option to be treated from the comfort of your own home can be beneficial. With this particular kind of therapy, being home can be easier because it is more than talking freely about whatever is on your mind. Instead, CBT requires addressing the causes of anxiety and setting specific goals to move past them. It can be easier for patients to do so when they are in a familiar and comfortable environment.

Because of the existence of such goals, a therapist will likely ask the patient how they feel in regard to the process. It’s imperative that the therapy work over the short time it lasts. Without the addition of medication, patients also often have tasks to complete outside of sessions. These tasks might be keeping a journal of specific times anxiety set in. It could also involve facing a cause of anxiety. Treating anxiety requires the patient to put in a lot of work, but making a real attempt at healing can change their life.

Alternative Ways To Treat Anxiety

When you want to avoid the use of medication to treat anxiety, there are a number of natural ways to do so. Aside from therapy or counseling, people that live with an anxiety disorder can find a way that might work best for them. While these natural treatment options have proven to be helpful, it is typically best to consult a mental health professional to ensure the best treatment is being utilized.

Exercise To Treat Anxiety

Going for a run, hitting a heavy bag, or hiking the trails are great forms of physical activity to promote less anxiety. Did you also know that they are great ways to reduce anxiety? Because of the endorphins that are released when you exercise, the body naturally improves your mood while exercising and can also ease anxiety, reduce stress, and regulate physical symptoms along with stress hormones. It requires no medication to get this antidepressant, and it is good for the body as well as your stress levels giving you an anxiety treatment without medication.

Sunlight Decreases Anxiety

Sitting in a dark room might make you feel safer from your anxiety, but it can actually cause more harm. It may feel like it helps you manage settings, cope with fear, and securely process sensory input, but peer reviewed studies show that it can exacerbate health symptoms over time. By allowing yourself a good amount of sunlight every day, your body releases serotonin, which is a natural mood-booster, and it can help you stay healthy. Sit on the porch, go for a drive, or simply open a window. Getting that natural light helps your body to regulate your serotonin levels.

Meditation As Treatment For Anxiety

Practicing meditation and focused deep breathing has proven to help individuals to relax and find a real sense of tranquility. By achieving this state of relaxation through breathing, your mind is no longer focused on the anxiety and allows your body the time to recover from any negative thoughts. Anxiety often leads to shallow breathing which can worsen anxiety. Making a real attempt at a breathing technique can change your mind immensely, and several studies have shown breathing exercises to be as effective as anti anxiety medication for some people. Mindfulness breathing allows the practitioner to cope with life and feelings of worry. There are many authoritative experiences on the effects from people who practice mindfulness as an anxiety treatment without medication to alleviate fear, worry, and an anxiety attack.

Research behind mindfulness meditation is growing. Research through Harvard Health Publishing from Harvard Medical School cites the thousand year old practice as promising. You can read many popular articles from Harvard Medical School through Harvard Health Publishing, such as one  detailed report that fully backs the practice.  Harvard Medical School through Harvard Health Publishing states in that intro of that report, “With regular practice, meditation can also help you gain a deeper awareness of your inner self. There is even some evidence that meditation changes your brain—enlarging areas of brain tissue that help us think and learn… while decreasing areas that cause us stress and anxiety.” The link above does cost money, but the approval for meditation from Harvard Medical school is huge for many people. There are a plethora of books and free articles online if you would like to learn more.

Sleep Well

Staying awake for too long can worsen existing anxiety. Although insomnia sometimes accompanies anxiety, ensuring that you have gotten enough sleep can help. If you struggle with sleeping, try eliminating caffeine from your diet. Caffeine not only aids in preventing sleep but can worsen anxiety. One small step would be to swap herbal tea for coffee or energy drinks. It can also be difficult to fall asleep if you remain in bed while you’re not tired. Instead, move to another room and get something accomplished prior to attempting to sleep again. A good night’s sleep or many in a row can produce anxiety reducing benefits. Anxiety begins at the beginning of the day when sleep needs are unmet.

Be Wary Of What You Eat

Did you know that what you eat can have a huge impact on your anxiety? In fact, a sugary diet or consuming artificial chemicals in food can have a negative impact on your mental health, in general. If you eat a sugary diet, your blood sugar drops precipitously throughout the day which can sharply affect energy levels which then can induce anxiety and an unhealthy heart rate. Junk food in general can disrupt natural rhythms, leading to an unhealthy heart rate. Any doctor will tell you that by ensuring that your diet is packed with healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins, you may notice a positive effect on your mental health.

Lavender As A Treatment Option

Learning New Lifestyle Habits Can Be The Medicine You Need

Many individuals have heard that lavender has calming properties. It can often be found in baby lotions, bubble bath products, essential oils, and diffusers. Whether you decide to grow lavender on your windowsill, soak in a lavender bath, or diffuse it in your bedroom, you may find that it has a calming effect on your anxiety as well.

Don’t Skip Meals

Do you often feel more anxious when you’re hungry? A lot of people do. By skipping meals, those with an anxiety disorder could be unknowingly making things worse. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and remember to have a small snack once or twice a day. By making sure you’re well-fed, you may experience an upward trend in your mood. The typical doctor will recommend that it is unhealthy to skip too many meals.

Address Your Anxiety

This one sounds scary. However, when you are experiencing negative or anxiety-inducing thoughts, you might find yourself in a never-ending loop with feelings of worry about life in general. Instead of continuing to feed into your mind’s worries, address your thoughts head-on. Having a sense of awareness of your anxious thoughts can allow you to slow it down. This is often a first step in getting help, but learning to stop your anxiety by naming it can help in the long run as well.

Classical Music As A Relaxation Technique

Listening to music can harm or heal those with anxiety, often depending on the kind of music you choose to listen to. When you listen to soft, classical music, our mind has a way of relaxing itself. It can even slow your pulse and lower your blood pressure. If you’re feeling anxious, stop and turn on a slow classical song. The affects you may experience might convince you to make this part of your regular treatment.

Get A Massage

When stress and anxiety build up and cause tension in your muscles, a massage is a great way to release that tension. Since a message is often accompanied by a stress-less environment and soothing sounds, your mind can relax along with your body. Although a massage can be a temporary treatment, regular massages can teach your mind how to destress.

Choosing The Best Treatment Option For You

With so many alternatives to medication for treating anxiety, it can be hard to decide which to choose. Ultimately, the decision is between you and your health care provider. With a generalized anxiety disorder, your therapist might recommend therapy in addition to a number of alternative suggestions. With minor anxiety, you might attempt to exercise more. Whatever you decide, it is essential that you truly put forth the effort to get through the anxiety. It can get worse if proper treatment is not sought out. In the end, these lifestyle changes are a great place to start, you would be doing an invaluable service to yourself, but it may be important to seek a doctor with relevant experience to talk about lifestyle changes, especially if your symptoms are severe. For most people, much of the work can be done on your own, but it is important to be a part of preventing fraud that says that nobody needs medication ever.

In many cases, proper treatment starts with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. If you don’t have a therapist, finding an online mental health professional might be an excellent option to seek out. It can be faster than finding someone local to fit you in, more convenient, and more comfortable. Trusted online counselors and therapists are modern forms of treatment that have proven to be helpful with various mental health disorders.

Seeking out help is brave. Perhaps the idea itself gives you anxiety. However, if you feel as though you require a bit of help to get through your anxiety, please do not hesitate to reach out to a counselor or medical professional for assistance. Taking the first step is often the start of healing. You may find that your anxiety can be decreased more than you ever thought possible.

Commonly Asked Questions About This Topic

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