I'm not saying that people don't need them. This is NOT a Christian Science blog or in any way anti-psycho-pharmacological. But people do ask me if there's any way to NOT use medication. My response is that it truly depends upon one thing. How Bad IS IT? Can't assess that here, sorry. However. . .
There are MANY cognitive (thinking) and behavioral therapies that do lower anxiety without pharmocological intervention. Lowering anxiety is a very good thing. We live in a HIGHLY stressful universe, apparently. In the LAX airport, soon after the British caught terrorists plotting to blow up planes, the tension was simply palpable. The event surely reminded us that there's NO good reason EVER really to relax. Don't let down your guard.
But that's no fun, now, is it?
The quick and dirty is that relaxation is better, and self-relaxation, being able to relax ones' self without drugs and much alcohol (did you hear me?) is the best.
The self-relaxation exercises that are behavioral, meaning you DO them, require doing something physical, like jogging, to work off the adrenaline rush that fuels anxiety. These also include breathing exercises and muscle contraction exercises.
My patients know that squeezing a pen (or flipping one into the air on occasion) is fabulous. Squeezing a roll of coins is better if you have manicured nails that are a tad on the long side.
You squeeze until the bicep of the arm that's squeezing quivers, then let it quiver away for as long as you can, then relax. Do it until you get tired. This is a majorly great exercise to use during a panic attack, by the way. So are any isometric exercizes, and you don't have to buy running shoes.
A cognitive exercise is something you do with your mind, like question a thought that is making you crazy. Your boyfriend dumped you and you think you're unlovable? You go over all the reasons that your friends and family actually think that you are.
A cognitive-behavioral exercise is one where you do both (think and behave). Writing is a behavior that requires thinking, a good example. If you write a list of all of the things that are making you anxious (angry, sad, etc.) you are writing (a behavior) but you're also thinking (a cognitive process). Writing is a great way to get things out of your system. It's why people blog, if you ask me.
I just read a blog by a young mother (Rookie Mom) who apparently is sick of having to justify the things that she never gets around to doing (she's PARENTING, for crying out loud) during the day. She suggests young mothers make lists of things that they DO do with their day. These tend to get quite long, although they're hardly glamorous.
That's the idea. That's therapeutic.
More on this another time, but SEE, there's hope here. Anxiety can be crippling, I'm not trying to minimalize it, but there are techniques that work in very natural, physically-psychologically sensibly ways.
Next time. . .STRESS EATING!
Copyright 2006, Therapy Doc