Complementary and alternative treatments of anxiety

Many studies have been done on complementary and alternative treatments of generalized anxiety and much less research has been done on non-conventional treatments of panic attacks, phobias, obsessions and compulsions. Kava-kava and L-theanine are non-pharmacologic treatments of generalized anxiety supported by extensive research evidence. Regular relaxation, meditation and mindfulness practice decrease the severity of generalized anxiety, and may be safely used in combination with conventional pharmacologic therapies and psychotherapy.

Virtual reality graded exposure therapy (VRGET) that will play a significant future role in the treatment of many anxiety problems that are poorly responsive to currently available psychological and pharmacological treatments. VRGET has already been established as an effective and cost-effective treatment of generalized anxiety, social phobia, specific phobias (e.g. fear of heights, fear of flying, etc) and panic attacks. Electroencephalography (EEG) biofeedback may prove to be as effective as regular relaxation training or mind-body practices for reducing moderately severe symptoms of generalized anxiety. Many studies also show that micro-current stimulation of the brain improves symptoms of generalized anxiety.

Non-pharmacologic treatments of anxiety that are less substantiated by research evidence include dietary changes, the amino acids L-theanine, L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, regular exercise, massage, acupuncture (including electro-acupuncture) and an energy healing approach called Reiki. Limited research findings and anecdotal reports suggest that Passion flower extract, Ashwagondha, certain vitamins and minerals, the essential oils of Lavender and Rosemary, certain Bach flower remedies, Healing Touch, QiGong, certain homeopathic remedies and intercessory prayer may be beneficial for some individuals who have generalized anxiety.

You can find out more about safe and effective complementary and alternative treatments of anxiety and learn how to use them in “Anxiety: the Integrative Mental Health Solution,” by James Lake M.D.

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