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Effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for anxiety disorders

Anthony F Jorm, Helen Christensen, Kathleen M Griffiths, Ruth A Parslow, Bryan Rodgers and Kelly A Blewitt
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (7 Suppl): S29.

Summary

Objectives: To review the evidence for the effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for anxiety disorders.

Data sources: Systematic literature search using PubMed, PsycLit, and the Cochrane Library.

Data synthesis: 108 treatments were identified and grouped under the categories of medicines and homoeopathic remedies, physical treatments, lifestyle, and dietary changes. We give a description of the 34 treatments (for which evidence was found in the literature searched), the rationale behind the treatments, a review of studies on effectiveness, and the level of evidence for the effectiveness studies.

Conclusions: The treatments with the best evidence of effectiveness are kava (for generalised anxiety), exercise (for generalised anxiety), relaxation training (for generalised anxiety, panic disorder, dental phobia and test anxiety) and bibliotherapy (for specific phobias). There is more limited evidence to support the effectiveness of acupuncture, music, autogenic training and meditation for generalised anxiety; for inositol in the treatment of panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder; and for alcohol avoidance by people with alcohol-use disorders to reduce a range of anxiety disorders.

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  • Anthony F Jorm1
  • Helen Christensen2
  • Kathleen M Griffiths3
  • Ruth A Parslow4
  • Bryan Rodgers5
  • Kelly A Blewitt6

  • Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Acton, ACT.

Correspondence: 

Acknowledgements: 

We wish to thank Tracey Davenport for editorial assistance with this article. Funding was provided by Program Grant No. 179805 from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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