Peter Bongiorno’s new book, Put Anxiety Behind You: The Complete Drug-Free Program, is aimed at readers who want help with anxiety, but without the use of prescriptions. Bongiorno, a naturopath and acupuncturist who teaches at NYU, provides a comprehensive step-by-step process for managing stress and anxiety. His approach is clear and systematic. Most chapters start with a case study exemplifying the anxiety factor to be discussed, followed by a discussion of the various permutations of the factor and relevant coping methods. A summary in the form of a checklist helps the reader take in the most salient points and incorporate the suggestions — and a checklist seems especially useful for readers who don’t have time or the patience for longer explanations about why they’re stressed out.
One of the steps Bongiorno recommends is a trip to the doctor: a regular checkup to rule out other health issues that might be contributing to (or even causing) how you feel. That makes sense. He also discusses sleep, exercise, and diet and blood sugar, providing helpful information in each section.
However, readers won’t necessarily buy into every step in the book. For instance, Bongiorno, as a naturopathic physician, emphasizes the use of mind-body modalities. While they have become more widely accepted in recent years, at least some of these activities, such as Reiki — a form of alternative medicine practiced in Japan incorporating palm healing or hands-on-healing — have not been proven effective.
Does this mean that you should avoid this book if you’re not in tune with all of the ideas? Not at all. Bongiorno provides something helpful for everyone suffering from anxiety. You just need to choose what works best for you.
Compared to other books of this genre, such as When Panic Attacks, by David D. Burns, this book includes a broader range of support. For example, Burns’s book does not recommend the use of any drugs or supplements, whereas Bongiorno extensively incorporates the use of supplements, which he refers to as homeopathic anxiety remedies. He even includes an appendix containing a description of each, listing the symptoms they tend to alleviate.
Another title is The Anxiety Toolkit, by Alice Boyes. Although it uses a similar format, Boyes, like Burns, doesn’t really get into supplements, and doesn’t go into as much detail as Bongiorno.
Between work and family, most of us have little free time to read about anxiety, even if we want solutions that will, as Bongiorno puts it, “allow you to face anxiety and move your life forward.” Would reading this book and following its steps be a good use of your free time?
I believe it would, if you are willing to embrace at least a portion of the suggestions in each chapter. The main drawback is that there is almost too much information, particularly regarding supplements. While the information may be helpful, as it is not in some other books, it can also be too much to wade through. But don’t let this caveat stop you from absorbing and integrating Bongiorno’s advice. Although adding more reading to your busy schedule may seem like it would increase anxiety, in the end you just might feel calmer for it.
Put Anxiety Behind You: The Complete Drug-Free Program
Conari Press, October 2015
Paperback, 240 pages