We’ve all experienced anxiety at some point in our lives. Whether it is the nervousness just before an exam or the dread while watching a horror movie. Anxiety is a bio-psychological reaction – it indicates a possible danger and prepares our body accordingly. However, sometimes this anxiety can be overwhelming, persistent, and can interfere with your daily life.
Anxiety is much more common than we imagine. It is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S., affecting over 40 million adults. The good news is that most anxiety disorders are easily treatable, and the treatment is often without medication.
When we think of illness, the next thing we think of is that we’ll have to take a pill and let it do its work. While this may be a quick solution, it’s not a permanent one. Since there is growing awareness of anxiety and its related disorders, a lot of research has been done on self-help techniques and a variety of therapies that don’t require any medication.
Medication is often a scary option for many, though it has been often found to quickly reduce the symptoms. If you are willing to work on your anxiety and want a medication-free option, online therapy for anxiety is especially helpful.
Why Not Medication?
Medications may or may not be helpful. Are they for you?
Adverse effects can happen with any drug. These can include allergic reactions, weight gain, drowsiness, or any other reaction when they interact with other drugs you are taking.
Dosage and timing considerations
Dosage is prescribed by the doctor based on many physical considerations, such as age, gender, weight, the severity of your anxiety, and other health conditions. However, dosage for anxiety disorders may also be determined by the doctor’s subjective experience and knowledge, and therefore evaluation can become more complex.
Though dependency is less likely to happen for most medications, you may develop a tolerance for anti-anxiety medication. A dose in the first week may not be enough for you in the second week, and this may keep gradually increasing.
Removal of symptoms
Though medicines may effectively remove the symptoms associated with anxiety, such as palpitations, sleeplessness, and so on, they may not address the core problems. For example, if your anxiety is caused by fights with your partner, taking medications will only help with the symptoms. Although you’ll start feeling physically better, the problems with your relationship might remain unresolved.
Medications are not a villain in our lives; they can bring about positive change if and when required. However, anxiety therapy without medication can help you make smart choices that tackle the core of your anxiety and teach you the skills needed to deal with it.
How to Overcome Anxiety With Therapy
Since medications aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution to anxiety, online therapy is an effective and alternative solution. Psychotherapy is a non-pharmaceutical treatment for anxiety and is tailor-made according to the underlying type of anxiety (fear of social situations, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and so on).
Online counseling is a collaborative process. The therapeutic alliance aims to equip you with the necessary skills and techniques for coping with anxiety. The process is designed so that you can practice these skills outside the session and test them yourself. The ones that help in coping with anxiety can be retained, while others are revamped or not used anymore.
It may seem like too much work, but a therapist won’t force you to apply these skills outside the session until and unless you are comfortable. A plethora of studies have examined the effectiveness of therapeutic approaches, but one that especially stands out is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
In CBT, the therapist identifies and addresses how your thoughts and behaviors interact to create anxiety. Therapists will work with you to recognize how negative thought patterns influence your feelings and behaviors.
A typical CBT session for anxiety can include education about anxiety. For example, a person who has panic attacks occasionally should first understand what a panic attack is. Once they have a better idea, the therapist equips them with strategies that can alleviate the uncomfortable experience. For example, you may write negative thoughts of the day and their positive alternatives.
Since CBT incorporates numerous techniques, from relaxation to breathing techniques and behavioral strategies, it is quite versatile and is effectively delivered over the internet.
In one study, it was found that youths diagnosed with anxiety disorders had significantly lesser symptoms even after 4 years of CBT. Another study has indicated that CBT can be an effective treatment for anxiety in as few as 8 sessions, with or without the use of medication.
Can Online Therapy Help?
Systematic reviews of internet-based CBT (ICBT) have found moderate to strong reductions in anxiety after treatment, similar to those found for face-to-face CBT.
Online CBT uses a combination of approaches and incorporates anxiety management training, which combines breathing strategies and techniques to change irrational thinking. Online therapy has been getting more and more popular for several reasons.
One of the primary reasons is that customized assessment of anxiety is now just a few clicks away. The therapist not only understands you but also customizes and personalizes the therapy sessions according to your specific needs.
As long as you have an internet connection, online counseling is a seamless experience that helps you connect to your therapist in between your busy schedule.
Online CBT has been found to serve two primary advantages – it helps enhance your sense of empowerment and has enhanced well-being. Even with moderate therapist involvement, it is less time-consuming. Getting support for your mental health is now so much easier!
How to Overcome Anxiety Without Medication or Therapy
It is common to wonder whether you can cure anxiety on your own. We have you covered with self-help tools and techniques. Often, self-help is an effective and cost-friendly way of starting your recovery. Once you understand what anxiety is, it becomes easier to work on it.
Learning how to relax your body is an important part of self-help. Muscle tension and shallow breathing are both linked to stress and anxiety. So, it’s important to become aware of these bodily sensations and to regularly practice exercises to help you learn to relax. For example, one can practice progressive muscle relaxation, which involves systematically tensing and relaxing parts of the body.
Anxiety can significantly alter the way we think about our world. One way of relieving anxiety fast is to alter our thoughts about a particular situation. For example, instead of saying “I am a failure,” one can say, “It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.” Challenging negative thoughts takes practice, but once you are able to do that, you perceive the world and yourself more objectively.
In CBT, the process of facing fears is called exposure, and it is one of the most important ways to manage your anxiety. Exposure involves gradually and repeatedly entering feared situations until you feel less anxious. You start with situations that only cause you a little bit of anxiety, and you work your way up to facing things that cause you a greater deal of anxiety. For example, if you are scared of dogs, you might start by exposing yourself to photos or videos of dogs until you feel comfortable.
Even though self-help techniques are a starting point, they are not always self-sufficient, especially if you are experiencing severe anxiety. Even online anxiety treatment without medication is not suitable for severe anxiety. However, reaching out to a therapist not only acts as additional support but also a professionally guided path to recovery!
Putting an End to Anxiety
Putting a full stop to medications can bring feelings of anxiety right back. Would you be willing to go deeper, treat anxiety naturally, and find real change? Anxiety treatment without medication aims to make you self-reliant and be able to cope with feelings of anxiety and worry. However, sometimes this may not be enough. Our therapists at DoMental will help gear you towards putting an end to your anxiety and its associated negative effects.
Managing anxiety is not always easy or fun, so remember to reward yourself for the hard work!