Anxiety Treatment Options: Non-Addictive Anxiety Medication
Anxiety and mood disorders are common mental health issues affecting a large population. Even though having anxious feelings is completely normal, especially in stressful situations, those with anxiety disorders experience debilitating stress and panic, enough to interfere with their daily activities.
Unfortunately, while anxiety is fully treatable, only 40% of people with anxiety are under medication. While initial medications used to treat anxiety were effective, they had significant side effects, including addiction. People diagnosed with anxiety are particularly prone to addiction because they prefer self-medicating to numb anxiety symptoms.
Controlled vs Non-Controlled Anxiety Medications
Controlled anxiety treatment options have high risks of addiction or dependence. On the other hand, non-controlled drugs are non-addictive. Addictive medications should be avoided if there are non-addictive treatment options.
Benzodiazepines, like Valium and Xanax, were among the first controlled anxiety drugs. While they produced quick results, they carried the risk of sedation, tolerance, and dependence. As such, people with anxiety should use benzodiazepine alternatives for better results. Below is a list of non-addictive anxiety medications.
Anxiety Disorder Treatment Options
You should explore various potential treatment options immediately after being diagnosed with anxiety disorder. Before looking at the anti-anxiety medication list that is non-addictive, it is worth noting that patients with anxiety can choose medical treatment options or holistic/psychotherapy options. Below are the non-addictive anxiety medication list and holistic treatment options for people with anxiety disorders.
Non-Addictive Anxiety Treatment Options
While selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are widely used for depression, they are also very effective for anxiety disorders. SSRIs are the first-line medicinal treatment option for anxiety disorders. Commonly used SSRIs include:
SSRIs effectively treat anxiety by correcting neurotransmitter deficiencies that cause anxiety symptoms. Even though they take longer to produce positive effects, typically from two weeks, they have a good safety profile. The greatest benefit of these drugs is they are not addictive. They also treat depression, which co-occurs with anxiety in most patients.
Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are also non-addictive anxiety medications with the same mechanism as SSRIs. They are the second-line drugs of choice if SSRI fails. The two recommended SNRIs include duloxetine and venlafaxine XR. Unlike SSRIs, SNRIs focus on the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and have energizing effects.
3. Beta Blockers
Among the many off-label uses of beta blockers is alleviating anxiety symptoms. Beta-blockers work by blocking catecholamine transmission, a neurotransmitter that triggers physical symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heartbeat, jitteriness, high blood pressure, and constriction of blood vessels.
Because of these effects, beta blockers are effective in treating panic anxieties, such as people with agoraphobia. They also prevent the onset of physical anxiety in specific situations, such as before taking exams or speaking publicly. Propranolol is the commonly accepted anti-anxiety non-additive beta blocker.
Buspirone is another treatment of choice widely recommended for treating generalized anxiety disorders. The use of buspirone differs from other drugs mentioned above because it is of a different class of drugs. Like SNRIs, it should be used as a second-line choice. While its mechanism of action remains unknown, it effectively reduces the withdrawal symptoms of those detoxing from opioid addiction.
Diphenhydramine is commonly prescribed as an anti-allergy drug but can also be used in anxiety disorders. While its mechanism of action against anxiety remains unclear, it has shown effectiveness in reducing symptoms of anxiety without the potential for misuse. It also works faster than mainline anxiety drugs, such as SSRIs.
However, the use of diphenhydramine isn’t encouraged for all patients because of its mild side effects. For effective results, it should be taken every six hours. Unfortunately, frequent use can lead to dry mouth and sedative effects.
Non-Addictive Holistic Treatment Options
Some of the commonly used non-pharmacologic or holistic treatments for anxiety include:
Integrated care/inpatient treatment
Inpatient treatment in rehab centres, such as The Retreat, is the best place to begin recovery from anxiety. Changing your environment removes stressful circumstances and allows you to learn coping mechanisms. Psychologists and psychiatrists assess anxiety symptoms during inpatient treatment and develop appropriate treatment methods.
Another commonly preferred anxiety treatment method in recovery centres is intensive psychotherapy. The following psychotherapy remedies can help relieve anxiety symptoms:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy – several studies have supported using CBT in anxiety treatment. Coupled with medication and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and reducing consumption of caffeine and stimulants, CBT helps patients re-write their stories and improve their quality of life.
- Talk therapy – most people develop anxiety disorders because of stuffing their feelings and life occurrences. Stored emotions slowly build up, causing a state of uncertainty. Attending talk therapy sessions can help affected persons offload some emotions and feelings.
- Dialectical behavioural therapy – DBT resembles CBT and helps anxious persons achieve mindful focus, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Learning these four important tools helps patients accept the present, increase their tolerance of negative emotions, manage intense emotions, and communicate effectively with others.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – EMDR is an effective holistic approach that alleviates anxiety symptoms using trauma or external stimuli. The therapy uses vibrating objects or flashing lights to stimulate brain centres responsible for emotions and feelings.
Mindfulness and Meditation
You should also try mindfulness and meditation at home or in rehab centres if you have been diagnosed with anxiety. Fortunately, learning to practice mindfulness and meditate is simple. You can access endless resources, including YouTube, audiobooks, and meditation apps. If you are admitted to an inpatient treatment centre, you can enjoy the guidance of experienced professionals.
Get Help Today
If you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or struggling with undiagnosed anxiety disorder, know that you are not alone. However, you should see a mental health professional if the symptoms interfere with activities of daily life or cause significant distress.
The Retreat New Zealand offers dual diagnosis anxiety treatment options. This combines both non-pharmacologic and non-addictive anxiety treatment options. On-site psychiatrists prescribe non-habit-forming medication that suits individual needs, while counsellors and therapists take on intensive therapeutic care.