Yes, you can definitely treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) without prescription medications. In fact, treatment with prescription medications is last resort treatment, only reserved for those who have severe cases of GAD, or for those who have GAD and do not respond to psychotherapy. Non-medication treatments for GAD include psychotherapy, relaxation techniques, exposure work, self-help interventions, and natural supplements.
Psychotherapy is first line treatment for GAD. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is effective for GAD. The premise of CBT is that it is not the event that causes anxiety…it is your thoughts and beliefs about the event that cause your anxiety. So the work in CBT is to change the way you think about an event, and using more adaptive, positive thoughts will lead to reduced anxiety. CBT also addresses the behaviors like avoidance, which serves to increase or maintain anxiety. When you avoid your fears, you do not get a chance to find out that your anxiety eventual goes away on its own.
In addition to CBT, relaxation and exposure work are necessary to decrease the anxiety. Relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation help to reduce overall anxiety levels. These relaxation techniques are necessary, as the work of CBT and exposure work can increase the anxiety temporarily. And with exposure work, this is where you face your fears. But facing your fears can induce severe anxiety, or even a panic attack. That’s why relaxation techniques are needed to calm your anxiety levels…it’s needed to do the work of eradicating anxiety. Exposure work entails gradual exposure to less threatening forms of the same feared stimulus, then once you can exposed yourself without anxiety, then you are exposed to more threatening stimuli, until you are able to be exposed to the stimulus you fear. This is called systematic desensitization.
Finally, self help interventions based on CBT and natural supplements for anxiety are promising alternatives for anxiety. You can see great example in the Anxiety Protocol book. Self help based on CBT has been shown to be effective for anxiety, such as GAD. And natural supplements, which include herbal and nutritional supplements, have promising research showing they are safe and effective for anxiety, such as GAD. If you are interested in natural supplements, please see KalmPro.
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