In a given year, about 18 percent of U.S. adults have an anxiety disorder. Effective conventional treatments for anxiety disorders, including psychotherapy and medication, are available. Aside from drugs, what other treatments or therapies can help? Research by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health offers these suggestions:
Mind and Body Practices
Although some studies suggest that Acupuncture might reduce anxiety, the research is too limited to allow definite conclusions to be reached.
Hypnosis has been studied for anxiety related to medical or dental procedures. Some studies have had promising results, but the overall evidence is not conclusive.
In some studies in people with cancer or other medical conditions, massage therapy helped to reduce anxiety; however, other studies did not find a beneficial effect. Massage has not been shown to be effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder.
Mindfulness meditation and Transcendental Meditation may have a beneficial effect on anxiety. However, meditation has not been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders.
Relaxation techniques may reduce anxiety in people with chronic medical problems and those who are having medical procedures. However, conventional psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy) may be more effective than relaxation techniques in treating anxiety disorders.
Kava may have a beneficial effect on anxiety. However, the use of kava supplements has been linked to a risk of severe liver damage.
The evidence on whether lavender supplements can reduce anxiety is inconclusive.
Melatonin has been studied as a possible alternative to conventional anxiety-reducing drugs for patients who are about to have surgery, and the results have been promising. There isn’t enough evidence on chamomile, passionflower, or valerian for anxiety to allow any conclusions to be reached.
Other Complementary Approaches
Although research results aren’t entirely consistent, substantial evidence suggests that listening to music can reduce anxiety during medical treatment.