Meditation vs Medication for Anxiety
Heidi Zwart
meditation vs medication for anxiety

It’s estimated that up to 20% of individuals live with chronic daily anxiety. Understandably, the state of the world has likely increased that previous estimate. Treatment for anxiety usually includes pharmaceuticals but often with mixed results. As a result, some turn to meditation vs medication for anxiety in an attempt to find relief. 

Anxiety disorders range in severity and encompass a variety of symptoms. Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in the United States according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, impacting 40 million adults in 2018. Because of its magnitude, medications have been specifically developed to alleviate symptoms. 

Several challenges impact the efficacy of medication for anxiety treatment:

  1. Lack of compliance – people suffering from anxiety can be noncompliant because of cost and adverse effects
  2. Adaptation to treatment – while effective for short term use, the body adapts to benzodiazepines (a common medication for anxiety) quickly which renders them ineffective long-term
  3. Underlying symptoms remain untreated – medication masks the symptoms but doesn’t address the root cause
  4. Co-existing conditions – anxiety and depression are closely correlated and medication management is more difficult

Because medication can be costly with unpleasant side effects and limited impact, natural treatments are often sought, like meditation vs medication for anxiety and can be a viable solution for symptom management.

In a literature review of over 3,000 participants in 47 clinical trials, The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety.” While the findings indicate that meditation is no better than other treatments, it may provide small to moderate relief for people suffering from anxiety.

Natural remedies for those who don’t want to use medication for the treatment of anxiety are available. Meditation vs medication for anxiety is just one alternative treatment. Medical News Today outlines these 10 ways to reduce anxiety through lifestyle choices.

  1. Exercise
  2. Meditation
  3. Relaxation exercises
  4. Writing
  5. Time management strategies
  6. Aromatherapy
  7. CBD oil
  8. Herbal teas
  9. Herbal supplements
  10. Time with animals

Keep in mind that these alternatives are not intended to treat all forms of anxiety disorders. The severity of your diagnosis should impact the choice of treatment. 

Other emerging methods of treating symptoms of anxiety are trending in the marketplace. Advocates share a mix of anecdotal and scientific evidence about the impact they have on symptom reduction. Some of these more recent alternatives include:

  • Weighted blankets
  • Essential oils
  • Fidget spinners
  • Dietary supplements
  • Coloring books

While each of these can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of anxiety, it’s always recommended to be in consultation with a physician before choosing these methods and other natural treatments like meditation vs medication for anxiety. In general, the best path forward is often a combination of both natural stress reduction techniques and medication. If you are suffering from anxiety, some of the interactions between natural herbs and supplements, for example, can counteract the effect of medication, which is why collaboration with a physician is crucial.  

Symptom reduction helps with daily life, but in the long-run, it’s important to address the root cause through therapy in combination with natural and medicinal treatments. 

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