There is growing scientific evidence about complementary and integrated health treatments. Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine, or CAM, is growing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders.
Complementary medicine is used along with conventional medicine. An example is in-home treatment to help modify symptoms of panic attacks. Alternative medicine can include a special diet to treat cancer instead of undergoing surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy recommended by a medical doctor.
Before beginning CAM or any type of treatment, talk to your mental health provider or primary care doctor. Visit the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health "Know the Science" website page.
Treating Anxiety Disorders and Depression
The following complementary and integrative health practices may be used to help treat anxiety and depressive disorders. We advise that you speak with your primary physician and/or mental health provider before selecting any complementary treatment:
- Stress and Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques may produce modest short-term reduction of anxiety in people with ongoing health problems. These techniques have also been shown to be useful for older adults with anxiety. Find out more.
Moderate evidence suggests that meditation is useful for symptoms of anxiety and depression in adults.
Yoga, which combines physical postures, breathing exercises, meditation, and a distinct philosophy, is one of the top ten practices of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine). It may also help alleviate anxiety and depression.
Evidence for the use of acupuncture — the Chinese practice of inserting needles into the body at specific points to manipulates the body's flow of energy — to treat anxiety disorders is becoming stronger.
ADAA Blog Posts and Webinars
- Avoid the Snake Oil: Pseudoscience and OCD Treatment - blog post
- Overcoming Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Reclaim Your Life from Anxiety and Distress about IBS Symptoms - webinar
- The Mindful Way Through Anxiety - webinar
- Can Yoga Help with Depression? What Does the Research Say - webinar
- Can Mindfulness Help When You’re Depressed?, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkley
- Buyer Beware: CBD Products Could Be This Century’s Snake Oil
- CBD Is Everywhere, But Scientists Still Don’t Know Much About It (ADAA member Michael Van Ameringen, MD is quoted)
- Do Weighted Blankets Help with Anxiety and Insomnia? (ADAA member Martin Anthony, PhD is quoted).
- Do Weighted Blankets Even Do Anything for Anxiety?
- Schools in England Introduce a New Subject: Mindfulness