How You Can Manage Anxiety Without Medication

There are millions of people crippled in some way due to anxiety. In fact, anti-anxiety medication is prescribed each day to patients who come in stating that their stress and anxiety levels are through the roof. Now there are some people that say doctors prescribe the medication too quickly; that there are other ways people can manage anxiety symptoms, but the truth is that most people would rather pop a pill for symptoms rather than make some effort to rid them in alternative ways.

I understand. Sometimes it is tempting to just take a pill to relieve symptoms, but if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to settle for harmful side effects or simply wants to approach issues more alternatively, then there are ways to treat anxiety without medication.

Here are several:

Get control of your thought life
Yes. Your thoughts matter and if your thoughts are going unfiltered, they may be causing you unneeded stress and anxiety. If you are continually thinking negative thoughts, you’re experiencing anxiety and possibly depression. Take some time today and monitor your thought life. Write down the types of thoughts you are thinking. Are they mostly positive or negative? If you’re anxious, chances are they are mostly negative.

Now, learn how to retrain your brain to go from negative to positive. For example, if you keep thinking “I’m so broke. I’ll never get out of this financial mess.” Then it’s time to change that thought to something like “I can become financially responsible and abundant little by little by making wise financial decisions.” Say that over and over again and make the appropriate changes and you’ll see it manifest in due time.

Most worrisome thoughts never actually happen. Keep that in mind as you go throughout your life. Worry less, believe more.

Meditation/Prayer
You might think sitting still and being quiet sounds boring- and it may be at first- but if you commit to developing meditation or prayer habits, chances are your stress level will decrease. Many people who commit to even 10 minutes per day admit that they feel better mentally and emotionally. Give it a try!

Deep breathing
Every so often during the day, take two or three deep breaths, as this will help you to relax your body and it gets a lot of oxygen to your cells- which will make them happy! Focus on your inhale and exhale often, as when you do, you tend to NOT be focusing on problems, issues, or annoying circumstances.

Watch your attitude
Aim to be an optimist. Look for the silver lining. Hope for the best. As you do, you’ll experience less stress and more peace and happiness.

Start reducing your anxiety by trying these techniques. You might also like to get regular massages or acupuncture, as they are quite helpful in curbing anxiety as well. Of course, if none of these work for you, perhaps you should seek help from a counselor, as they can be quite helpful in helping you get to the root of your anxiety and manage symptoms.

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  • I agree that all those suggestions can help reduce anxiety dramatically, but I don't think it's a bad thing to seek medical advice from your doctor especially if it is severe. I went many years without medication and it slowly paralyzed me to the point where I couldn't drive across town, sit in a doctor's office or take mass transportation without bringing on a full anxiety attack. It was then, when the attack hit, that I would seek out alcohol to calm my brain down. Since then, I am on a medication that makes it possible for me to function outside of my home. I am also actively writing, learning about mindfulness and focusing on my health instead of my cravings.
  • When I saw my doctor a few days ago, he gave me a bit of a tip for when I'm having a really bad panic attack. If you're hyperventelating, bend over. If you bend yourself over to that your knees hit your chest, then you're more likely to be able to concentrate and focus on your breathing and you're more likely to be able to calm down.
  • I was against medication for a long time. For 2 years I suffered with extreme anxiety and tried all the behavioral techniques possible. I finally broke down and asked for help from my doctor who prescribed me an antidepressant. It worked and I was feeling almost normal a month later. I felt stupid for not asking for medication earlier.  I think when one has occasional anxiety the above mentioned techniques can work, but when it is chronic, I think medication can help fix whatever chemical imbalance could be helping trigger your symptoms. 
  • I know many people with anxiety attacks and the like; and it is not a bad idea to consult. We should do our best from our sides to have it under control, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes it's not just an exhaustion of the mind, like Diane said it, it can be an imbalance and you should not have to feel bad just to prove that you are strong.
  • I find the 'get control of your thought life' especially important - I often need to get to the root of why I'm feeling anxious before I can dispel it. Sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it does, but even a 50% success rate is better than nothing. I have never tried meditation, though I probably should as I've heard lots of good things about it!  

    I agree that there shouldn't be any shame in getting medication, though. If it helps, it helps.

  • These aren't bad tips, but honestly medication is not a bad option.  I tried for several years to get my anxiety under control, but it only worsened.  I tried various techniques from meditation to supplements.  I ate right, exercised, and took care of myself.  Despite all this anxiety ruled my life.  There were some methods that worked momentarily but not at the level I needed.  Eventually, I decided to give medication a try.  This has been one of the best decisions I have made.  I am no longer isolated, I have a social life again, I am able to go out in public, and I can communicate via internet and phone.  I have absolutely no shame in using medication anymore.
  • Honestly, for me the only thing that has worked is medication. I just got put on new medications last week and I think they're working at least a little bit, but I know that without them my anxiety would be completely horrible and unbearable. I know that if these don't work then I'll just end up trying another type of medication of some sort because I need them, because my anxiety gets in the way of me living a regular life way too much and I can't freaking stand it!
  • I always offer myself a positive result. 

    Think about all the conceivable incredible results of the differences you're making. Consider what you will realize, and how much better your life and connections will be without the frenzy. 
    With a calmer viewpoint, you'll have the capacity to settle on better choices and make a more fruitful result.
  • I agree that the techniques you listed work. However, for people with extreme anxiety, they may not be enough. I am one of those people.

    I have a pretty healthy outlook on life. I manage my breathing, meditate, think positive, and maintain control of my thought life. However, none of that stuff stops my anxiety jumping through the roof when I'm confronted with something stressful. I have social anxiety, so that could be someone stopping me in the street to ask the time. Obviously, I can't prepare myself for that, because it's random. I can reassure myself and tell myself I did fine, and even believe it, and take deep breaths, and go somewhere quiet and meditate... still, my heart doesn't stop racing for at least 20 minutes. That is 20 minutes I could be doing something USEFUL with my time, instead of having to calm myself down over a chance encounter most wouldn't think twice about.

    This is why I take medication. It stops those ridiculous amounts of anxiety over the tiniest of things, and lets me actually enjoy my days instead of spending enormous amounts of time and effort just on managing and reducing my symptoms.

    For some people, the techniques alone might work. Not me, and telling people they can manage without medication no matter who they are could be harmful if it prevents them trying medication.
  • Thanks for sharing those relevant suggestions to us. I couldn't agree more with you. It's all true. There are so many ways to beat and overcome anxiety without the help of medication. Personally, whenever I feel anxious, I always go for the natural method rather than taking pills. It's cheaper and more effective.
  • I think as a sufferer myself from anxiety. It's important to know when to remove from your life triggers. Sometimes this can include people. Understanding how to give up control is key to keeping anxiety levels down. Knowing that we can't control everything in our lives, but we can control how we react to them will also keep the beast at bay.
  • I am a sufferer from anxiety, and I currently do not take medication. I have been on & off them for my entire childhood and a lot of my adult life. I am doing fairly well, I do have my moments, and certain situations definitely give me anxiety, but the biggest thing for me has been positive thinking/meditation. Knowing we can't control a situation, but we can control how we react to it has been the most powerful thing for me, and I chose to be happy and take control of my life :) A lot of my anxiety comes from abuse to me from my family. I can't control the way my family treats me, but I can control the way I react to it :) Just that thought has helped me in dealing with it much better, and then my family does not have any power over me anymore.
  • I totally agree with your post and your list of ways to manage anxiety without the use of medication. As someone who is also suffering from a series of anxiety attacks, I always turn to God and pray. He's the one who always keeps me inspired and motivated, of course, my family as well. But anxiety is not easy to beat, I think it's like a disease that has already buried itself in my bloodstreams forever. It's scary though.
  • I love meditating as a means of relaxation. When the stress of work, family and life cloud my thoughts I like to take five to ten minutes to clear my head and relax my body. Meditating is a great way to handle stress. 
  • I have an anxiety disorder I am on medication for but it still feels crippling sometimes. Thoughts of my past mistakes keep running in my mind and some days I hate myself a lot. It feels like I can't say or do anything without thinking negatively about myself. I have seen psychologist and I feel like the anxiety may never go away completely, but can definitely be improved using these tips, a psychologist, a healthy lifestyle, and medication. 
  • I've only had a handful of severe anxiety attacks in my life and they are so bad I literally feel like I am dying or having a heart attack. I don't take medication, and I am usually able to handle my day to day stress and anxiety. The attacks are what I wish I had more control over. I am happy to of found this thread. The key is to remember these tips mid attack. We shall see. 
  • The answer is very simple. Replace the "c" in medication with a "t". ;)
  • @amyyoh  are you open to trying deep breathing techniques or daily meditation? helps  me keep some anxiety at bay...
  • I have suffered from panic attacks my entire life. I think that exercise had played the biggest part in helping me cope with my disorder. When I exercise it becomes an outlet for negative thoughts. I try to push the negativity out of my body with every breath and concentrate on the good in my life. Exercise has also helped me to use up some of excess nervous energy. When I feel an attack coming on I throw on my workout clothes and head out the door right away.
  • I do not get panic attacks so I am pretty lucky to not suffer from them. If I were to suffer from panic attacks then I would need to see a doctor. Hoping that the doc could cure it, but it would not be that bad for me since I do not have panic attacks.
  • I have had many panic attacks and find it to be pretty frightening. What I do now is transcendental meditation; which has helped me tremendously. I would recommend this process to anyone needing to overcome any kind of episode.  
  • Hmm, I wonder if I have anxiety, either that or paranoia. Maybe I should go take a walk outside, I could use a breath of fresh air every once in a while. Even walking to the park sometimes breaks away the anxiety.
  • @recovery4gwen.  what is the difference between meditation and transcendental meditation? 
  • I suffer from anxiety issues for a long time.  I use to have deep feelings of depression and I still have this weird dry cough that comes out whenever I start up again.  I need to take a break, think about my life, and start planning accordingly. I will take the OPs advice very seriously and look in to treating myself with no medication.  I don't like medication for things that can be healed naturally.
  • I had to stop taking anxiety medications because they were affecting me in other ways and I hated the fact that I was very dependent on medication to function normally.
    What I found to be useful is to just remind myself that whatever I'm anxious about is really not worth it and we are all going to die in the end. Some people might think it's silly but It really helps me.
  • @diprod I agree, although at one point, I had gathered so much negative energy that when I finally found myself surrounded by positive people I just couldn't accept it. I had been in bad place, surrounded by bad things happening, for so long, that I couldn't trust positive things at all. But I guess that had to happen.
    It took me months, but I eventually started accepting the positive things and regained more positive outlook of my own life. I can't express enough how much negative outlook will stop change from coming in your life! I was basically resisting every change coming in my life, full of doubt and negativity. Don't get me wrong, I may have had an initial reason for that...but I was just constantly stopping myself from moving into a better place in my life.
    Anyway, all the techniques listed are good! I never took medication and don't intend to, which yes, may make the process a bit longer, but that's okay. Other than what was already mentioned, I exercise as stress relief, I practice specific exercises anti-anxiety and I have been to counseling, which did help immensely. I do still get overwhelmed and anxious on occasion, but it SO far from before!
  • I've always been anxious, for as long as I can remember - and I think surrounding myself with good people definitely helps. If I surround myself with negativity and people that are down or miserable all the time, it brings out my anxiety even more so.

    I haven't tried meditation but I'll definitely look into it. 
  • For me it's a matter of attitude. We need to be optimistic, to see things on the bright side and not to think the worse all the time, that just brings more and more anxiety. 
  • I'm working on getting good at the deep breathing and the meditation. Maybe if in an get good at those ill be okay.
  • I think it's very important to read this because some people do really have a hard time meditating and it's not always the best option for some people. I'm a person who can't sit and meditate because I just don't like the concept of it, I always thought it would be good to find ways without meditation. Thank you for sharing this.
  • Meditation and prayer have certainly helped me with my extreme social anxiety. Sometimes whenever I feel like the room is closing in on my head, I just go to the bathroom or find a seat near me and I just pray to God.
  • Those are great tips for anxiety. But I'm ready to recognize anxiety as any other illness and don't sacrifice on medication. I basically feel medication, systematic desensitization, cognitive therapy, and exercise are all part of the therapy. Besides, there is a correlation between anxiety and inadequacy of brain chemicals.  I'd see it as a holistic problem than a mere attitudinal problem
  • For me, Cognitive behavioural therapy is helpful for anxiety. It helps you to understand the way you think and logically battle and question the thoughts to reduce the anxiety. Also deep breathing and occupying myself with hobbies helps me manage my anxiety. Talking to family is another thing that helps, offloading worries can sometimes be very beneficial and comforting.
  • I agree with @amyprime, though I have never actually tried CBT myself, but deep breathing is a big help.
  • I suffer from anxiety attacks and one of the best things that I have found to help without medication (I stopped all prescription drugs when I got sober) is when I feel an attack coming on, if I am in a place where I can go outside I go for a run, physical activity helps me channles my panicky feelings into physical activity.
  • Amazing post, thanks Dominica!  When my anxiety was at its worst (having OCD doesn't help at all!) I remember going for long walks.  Oh yes, I started out feeling so anxious and worried sick, but by the end of the walk I was exhausted i could no longer think of the things that were worrying me. It really worried to take my mind off things, specially if I needed almost immediate relief.

    After a while I learnt to control my attitude and my thinking. Now when I'm worried about something (right now I have a lot legit medical worries) I try to think of something else. Keeping a positive attitude also helps a lot.  Isn't easy though, last few years have been so tough, but they've taught me a lot.

    Another good thing to try is ASMR videos, those are awesome and never fail to relax me.  Perfect before going to bed!
  • I have taken antidepressants for many years and I would love to not have to take them anymore. I feel that the antidepressants have helped a lot, but I would love to be able to control the anxiety and depression issues without medication. It is important for anyone that is taking antidepressants or anti anxiety medication to be weaned off of it under a doctors guidance. Never ever stop taking medication without talking to your doctor first. I have done this before, and it was not fun nor was it pretty. 
  • A great article and wholeheartedly agree with the points you have put forth. As someone who can become incredibly anxious at times, I've found that it's mostly a matter of bad habits and not being in control of my life. Usually I will allow important tasks to slip, therefore creating a burdensome feeling within. This feeling only increases my anxiety and stress levels, particularly when I have too many things to handle. Gradually I've learned to respond quicker to all problems and tasks, while I still get anxious it's not as profound as it used to be.  
  • a friend of mine has tried this supplement and said that it helps him focus . you should do some reasearch on it. good luck
  • Thank you for those tips, although sooner or later (better sooner), we will need to treat our anxciety with medication in order to get some strong results.
  • I have never sat back to think of those tips to help with my anxiety. Those are really a good to know.
  • Thank you for sharing that. I know better but I need to do better and in the moment of anxiety and possible panic attacks the last thing I am thinking about is all the stuff I read about especially since I feel like I am going to die. But I will try to practice these things before I even gt to the point of no return, I hate taking meds and using alcohol to calm me is overall the worst possible route that I have been taking for the past year. Ok... So my plan is to wake up earlier and take some quite time for me to spend with God. I will start tomorrow. 
  • I keep myself busy with crafting or yard work. I try to focus on something productive because it I don't I will end up picking at sores on my skin it's a nervous tick of mine. Honestly try, and find something enjoyable that will keep not only your mind busy, but your hands it really helps me.
  • These are great tips! As a person who struggles with Anxiety, I always need help. I can talk Normally by myself, but when I'm around people my voice begins to stutter. I don't know why I get awkward around people, thank's a lot for posting these tips! Highly Recommended to follow these tips
  • I have OCD and sometimes I've had to go off my medication quite a few times for personal reasons...Honestly the way I would normally deal with it was through art, and also probably distracting myself somehow. It's hard though especially when you have a lot of things that can be triggering to you all around you, and people not respecting those triggers. Maybe you can also do some type of stimming? I tend to have bad compulsions where I'll pick at my skin, but there are great websites where you can find "stimming toys" that help you. One of those things is this spinning ring that can help you when you're anxious or even want to pick. I hope this helps!
  • I found out that one of the best ways to overcome anxiety is to step out of your boundaries. I know it sounds kind of hard to do at first, but you're never going to get over this problem if you'll not get out there and try to socialize. At first you're going to freeze and you'll want to quit, but if you're strong enough to persist you'll get a lot of self-confidence. Getting out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways of overcoming this.
  • Guys I think @Shammy Just made a huge point. it's impossible to be afraid of something forever and we all know being afraid is a normal reaction to fear we humans do...so we need to get out of the closet( yeah I just used that) and deal with our problems confidently... 
  • Personally I think its important to try and manage your anxiety without tablets and see if you can get over the anxiousness yourself, but if you can't I think it's important to make sure you get the right medical help.

    People don't like to turn to medication, especially when it comes to depression and anxiety as there's a stigma attached to them, but sometimes, if all else fails medication is the only option.
  • I recently found out I am expecting a child, and last night I had my first anxiety attack since getting the good news. I won't risk harm to the child by using medicine, so this article is a great reminder of how to slow or stop anxiety in the moment and prepare my mind so I don't get to the point of an attack. Thank you!
  • Thank you for the insight! I've found that small steps are the most effective and appear less daunting in the journey to conquer my anxiety. Also, surrounding myself with encouraging and understanding people has pushed me even further in the right direction. Anxiety is a scary thing, and can sometimes really overwhelm you. I really appreciate the abundance of supportive comments I have discovered within these forums. 
  • Anxiety is a really tricky beast to handle. I think all of your points there are good tips. I would add that it helps to try and take little steps regularly. Don't pressure yourself too much, but also try not to avoid the anxious scenarios too much. Sometimes that can end up increasing the problems you face.

    It's a good idea to seek some medical advice though. There's no sense in causing extra stress to yourself when you are already facing challenges.
  • In today's world most people suffered from anxieties which totally affects their way of life. And it is true that most people are relying to medications most of the time to treat what they are feeling. But I think the right treatment is not all through this medications. I think we can manage our anxieties by our own selves without the use of medicine. Personally when I have fears, worries and anxieties the first thing I am doing is talking to God by means of praying and it really gives me a sense of relief and a peace of mind. Next I try to get active by exercising to release those stress and tensions away that I had and to forget my anxieties. Lastly I try to eat and live a healthy life because I know this will be my defense to face any struggles or anxieties that will come into my life.
  • Although I agree with some of these methods, it is incredibly hard for me to use these. I become anxious about the process which creates even more anxiety. I wish I could put into words how I feel when I'm going into a full blown attack. My favorite method of easing my anxiety is sitting in a extremely hot bath. It causes my mind to completely forget about what I'm panicking over.
  • I have anxiety and found this article to be very helpful. Some people really do need medication to keep it under control, but I have found that distracting myself calms me down quite a bit. When my thoughts run away from me and I start feeling anxiety I will put on a good movie and get lost in the story for a while. At night if I am having problems sleeping because of my anxiety, then I will have a teaspoon on Nyquil and it calms me down enough to go to sleep. You do not need medications for everything in this world.
  • I suffered with anxiety when I was younger, it was pretty bad. I would have severe panic attacks where I felt like I was going to die. It lasted for years. Eventually I just grew out of it I guess you could say. Those years were tough though.
  • Though I think it's great to be able to find some sort of control over your anxiety through other sources, people shouldn't think that turning to medication is bad. Anxiety is a mental illness, and it should be treated. There are things you can do on your own, but nothing compares to the care of a doctor and the benefits of medications in situations like this.
  • I'm with hereiam on this one, people shouldn't be afraid to use medications...it's an illness just like any other and will need medications to be treated just like other illnesses. 
  • There does still seem to be a stigma attached to people using medication to treat anxiety, and I lot of people will try alsorts of alternative medicines before they'll go to a doctor.

    While im sure that herbal remedies might ease the symptoms, most people will need to seek professional medical help to fully get over illnesses such as these, and there's no shame in that.
  • I agree with all the above suggestions. They should be practiced by everyone not just who are feeling anxious. However, I think it is more difficult to overcome anxiety without seeking professional help (meds and/or counselling). This can help a constantly "anxious" person in layman's terms but people who have a clinical issue may need a bit more reinforcement from specialists.
  • Being optimistic is a really good thing, as Winston Churchill says: "I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else." 
    anxiouseI also think hoping for the best is the best coping mechanism an anxious person should learn.
  • These are nice tips, however for someone with an anxiety disorder, they probably won't be very effective, honestly. These seem to be more for someone who is just anxious because of their current situation, which is different from having an anxiety disorder. Although medication is often overly prescribed, thinking optimistically and breathing deeply probably won't help someone having an anxiety attack or suffering from severe anxiety because it's generally out of their control.
  • Thanks for those tips.....I didn't know the part about negative thoughts......cool, anyway, not into the Eastern stuff, but the other stuff I can roll with. I do prayer and journaling, Even go to a therapist once in a while. Anxiety has been a common them for me throughout recovery. I'll start using your negative thought awareness tip .....I like it. Thanx 
  • @JOE2 Does journaling help you? I feel really repressed, because I can't put my worst thoughts on the paper. I goes I need to try harder. 
    I agree with @sheepishwolf. Those tips can be helpful, but there's no shame in medicating, especially when anxiety is getting out of hand. It's an ilness like any other, and it deserves treatment. I wish neurotypical people would stop talking about medication like there was something wrong with it.
  • Elfprincess  one thing we all learn about this recovery thing is that different things work for different people.....I guess it works for me most times when I'm geared up and need clarity and a release from the anxiety. I probably wouldn't recommend it if your depressed though, cause one might start all the negativity and make it worse. But then again, I'm just an old ex druggie, still learning as I go ....Depression and anxiety can both present negative thoughts....just different really....depression thought=I'm just going to die anyway, Anxiety thought=I've got cancer is one of many examples. Hope that help... :) 
  • I don't want to trump the success of others, but in my experience, my anxiety has been incredibly resilient. It doesn't care what breathing exercises I do, how I de-stress, or how much caffeine I refrain from, much less the medication I take. I'm glad others are having good experiences without medication, although for me I have failed in keeping myself stable without medication. The medication itself doesn't seem like a good option either, since it sedates me and makes me tired in odd hours of the day.
  • Aside from those tips, I have some more to add. 

     Has anyone here tried lavender oil? It has worked wonders to calm my senses in times of stress and anxiety. You can put some on your clothes or on your temples as well. 

    How about touching something when anxiety kicks in? Try touching your keys or your cellphone. Or maybe something distracting like ice. The purpose is for your brain to be distracted from the anxiety attack. 

    I hope this helps!
  • I certainly agree with the deep breathing technique. Though you have not mentioned this, I believe the proper way is to do diaphragmatic breathing, which will require some practice. 
    Breathe slowly and deeply and instead of expanding your chest, try to imagine the air going into your belly and watch it expand and contract. Initially, try placing your hand on your chest and another on your abdomen. Try not to move the hand on the chest as you breathe. Apparently, diaphragmatic breathing has a positive impact on the parasympathetic nervous system and can thus help during a panic attack. It should help to reduce adrenaline being discharged into the bloodstream so that your fight or flight is calmed down. 
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