Does anxiety need to be medically treated?


Fact Box

  • The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million American adults, while only 43.2% receive treatment. Other common anxiety disorders include Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Specific Phobias. 
  • Women are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder in comparison to men, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America.
  • Healthline lists 10 ways to naturally reduce anxiety: staying active, avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, limiting caffeine, getting a good night’s rest, meditating, eating well, practicing deep breathing, using aromatherapy, and drinking chamomile tea.

Bethany (No)

Anxiety is not a disease but a common experience that has always plagued the human condition. And contrary to modern belief, fueled by Big Pharma's bottom line to sell more medication, anxiety doesn't need to be treated as a mental disorder. It can be controlled and alleviated naturally. People don't have to endure the potentially dangerous side effects of taking another factory-manufactured, potentially addictive medication to calm bouts of intense emotion. 

Prescription medications exist everywhere for treating anxiety, and society has increased its consumption of mental medicines in recent years (amounting to around 55% of people). Still, our mental health problems remain high and have only seemed to increase, indicating society's problem is more likely linked to environmental, diet-related, and other personal factors, which can be alleviated outside of medical chemical intervention. 

There are solutions apart from medicine available to calm one's anxiety, including mental exercises, with a focus on breathing, which calms the body and mind. Essential oils used in aromatherapy are also known solutions. Some of these plants used in making essential oils—such as chamomile, lavender, rose, lavender, and more—may also be used in teas to relieve anxiety, as they can have the same calming effects as the oils. Even more of these can be taken directly in a concentrated form (such as tinctures or pill form), but only as directed and with personal judgment and research to determine what will work best for the individual.

With more information emerging about holistic approaches to solving various medical issues, it's no surprise that this ailment has an almost endless library of online resources. Anxiety is a problem that exists for humans not because we are deprived of medicine but simply because we are humans with emotions.  

Maha (Yes)

Despite numerous psychotherapy treatments for anxiety disorders, medical treatment can't be written off completely. Anxiety medications can be used as a new approach to benefit patients experiencing signs such as higher anxiety levels. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) further recommends medication for individuals experiencing depression in addition to anxiety. 

ADAA also believes medication can help people with poor to no response to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In fact, ADAA states medical treatment can complement psychotherapy treatment to achieve long-lasting results. But most importantly, anxiety medicines help individuals who seek immediate results. Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and Ativan work quickly, typically delivering relief within 30 minutes to an hour. That way, patients won't have to suffer through other symptoms and their consequences. 

Benzodiazepines, for instance, offer relief from insomnia. Constant worrying can continue into the night, resulting in mental hyperarousal. Similarly, anxiety can impact the quality of sleep. This results in a vicious cycle that can impact people mentally and physically. Another reason to prescribe anxiety medicines is the current shortage of psychiatrists. In 2024, the shortage is expected to be between 14,280 and 31,091 psychiatrists. This means many people may not get the attention they need. 

On the other hand, medicines are readily available, even in rural areas where the gap between the need for and access to psychiatrists is wide. And despite myths about their safety, their major risks are well-known as the FDA regulates their testing and approval. So, it may be best to treat anxiety medically before it evolves into generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), making this disease a constant companion that impacts individuals' quality of life.

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