I don’t believe the article was suggesting that we should never ask ourselves “What if?” From my interpretation of it, it merely touches on the point that anxiety starts as a concern and quickly spirals into more extreme “What if?” scenarios that may or may not have a direct relation to the original concern.
Also, the most empirically successful therapy for anxiety disorders to date is exposure therapy, which is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy. I would like to ask cognitivedefusion to explain a bit more about why that is, because I’m sure he can do so a lot better than I can, but from my understanding of it, exposure therapy works to teach an individual that the source of anxiety need not be feared, by exposing them to it in a safe environment.
I don’t understand what the original ask is trying to get at, so I will address the points that stick out.
The suggestion isn’t to entirely stop “what if” moments, but to stop letting them deprive people of the now for a hypothetical future. Our minds, as dreadiron implied, are prediction machines. Short of an ablation to the prefrontal cortex, that is what they will continue to do.
The problem, as briefly alluded to, is when “what if” turns into “that will happen.” This is characteristic of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety, where worry cascades to catastrophic levels and it shifts from “what if” to “this could likely happen,” and that thought is bought into so strongly that the individual often engages in even more maladaptive patterns of behavior as a means to escape the perceived inevitable scenario.
I have zero idea how anyone can claim that medication treatment is somehow “organic.” That’s maybe the least “organic” treatment possible. Anxiety are learned disorders, and there’s decades of data to suggest that it is precisely that learning process which is the best way to adjust it. Medication cannot replace learning. Some can enhance or facilitate it, but those are NOT anxiolytics or antidepressants or other drugs that are typically prescribed; the kind that enhance learning, to my knowledge, are only used for research to facilitate the consolidation of new learning which occurs through exposure therapy.
I would suggest dreadiron do a more extensive review of the literature. No medication comes even close to having the long-lasting benefit that exposure therapy has for any anxiety disorder. Period. It’s not even a competition. Exposure therapy addresses learning problems, while medication simply tries to cover it up. The former addresses clear mechanistic and etiological concerns, while the latter does not.
Only thing I’d change in your response is that exposure does not work by exposing in a safe environment. In fact, for greater odds of success, you would want to expose them in an environment that is perceived as dangerous (though obviously isn’t actually). People with OCD who fear harming others with a knife - literally hand them a knife and put them in a room with people. Those with panic disorder who fear a heart attack - literally have them do intense workouts to get them to sweat and elevate their heart rate as much as possible. Etc.
If anything it is to remove the sense of safety and to show them that, even under the most intense conditions, their catastrophized fear will not happen. It is literally making them as anxious and afraid as possible, and showing them that their mind, including their prefrontal cortex, was wrong. No medication can come close to mimicking or competing with that process (so far). And that’s about as organic as you can get. USDA organic, yo.