A new study did something very interesting--it compared natural medicine (supplements, diet, lifestyle) to psychotherapy for the treatment of anxiety. The result was:
"Both NC (naturopathic care) and PT (psychotherapy) led to significant improvements in patients' anxiety. Group comparison demonstrated a significant decrease in anxiety levels in the NC group over the PT group. Significant improvements in secondary quality of life measures were also observed in the NC group as compared to PT. The whole system of naturopathic care for anxiety needs to be investigated further including a closer examination of the individual components within the context of their additive effect. "
Why would the naturopathic group do better? We have an unfortunate assumption in our culture--that mood based problems are "all in the head". Anxiety and other mood disorders are a whole-person issue! The crux of holistic medicine is that every system, and indeed every cell in the body exists in a complex coordinated dance with every other system. You cannot isolate the brain from the body. In this study the naturopathic treatment consisted of Ashwagandha supplementation, deep breathing exercises, counseling, and a standard multi-vitamin for 6-weeks. This was a very generic program. I have seen remarkable improvements in anxiety with a protocol very similar to this, but also including specific treatment directed to the individual's nervous system. A detailed examination can reveal parts of the nervous system that are under or over-functioning. Amazing results occur when the dysfunctioning nervous system is corrected through chiropractic. This and other research is beginning to change the landscape of treating anxiety disorders toward a more holistic approach.