Trying the Unconventional: Alternative Mental Health Therapy
Since psychiatry became a significant field in modern day medicine, millions of people have gotten treatment for mental disorders. The most prevalent psychiatric treatments have been drugs and EST (Electroshock Therapy), in addition to psychotherapy. While conventional psychiatric treatments are still very popular, alternative mental health therapy is becoming increasingly so for one main reason: distrust. People don’t trust that pharmaceutical companies aren’t ripping them off, or that side effects of medication will not kill them or change who they are. So, while Dr. Freud may be rolling in his grave, here are some natural ways you can treat mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Alternative Mental Health Therapy: Depression
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that has been around, approximately, since 100 B.C. Then and again, that is just what has been recorded. The oldest practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the entire point of acupuncture is to target certain areas to increase to increase the flow of ‘qi’, or life force energy. For depression in particular, you should focus on the pressure points in the hands and feet. Trained acupuncturists insert thin needles at specific acupuncture points, most commonly to relieve pain. If you are depressed, relief from psychic pain may be exactly what you are looking for. However, if there is one thing stronger than distrust, it’s skepticism. Some scientists think that acupuncture is merely placebo, some go as far as to call it a pseudoscience. However, there are people who swear by acupuncture’s ability to relax and relieve.
Now here is something Freud would approve of. Hypnosis or, in its therapeutic uses, hypnotherapy, can do much more than make a man jump through hoops. If you are suffering from depression, hypnotherapy can alleviate the bad moods and help regulate your negative thoughts. During a session, your therapist guides you into a deeper state of relaxation so that you can quiet your mind. The goal is to suppress your conscious so that your subconscious feelings and thoughts can break the surface. While in the hypnosis, the therapist can make positive suggestions that will imbed themselves in your psyche and, theoretically, lead to constructive lifestyle changes afterwards. Hypnotherapy has also been shown to help with depression. In some cases, it has alleviated the patient’s depression more so than even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (you can read more about CBT here). So before you dismiss hypnosis as a magic trick, try it.
Alternative Mental Health Therapy: Anxiety
Yoga has become a fad. Nowadays rather than focusing on its healing properties, people focus on its ability to tighten their core, shape their butts, or lose that last little bit of weight. However, yoga tradition goes back to the 15th century- long before it entered into every mainstream gym from Manhattan to the golden coasts of California. Traditionally, yoga is about breathing and relaxation. Panic attacks and other symptoms of anxiety result in bad breathing technique. By aligning your body properly and learning proper breathing technique, Hatha yoga can be extremely helpful for those with anxiety.
It may have the word ‘bio’ in it, but that does not make it any less alternative. Biofeedback therapy is about training your mind to control physiological processes such as blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. During a session, electrodes are placed on your skin so that you can actually see these processes happening. When stress is induced, your goal then is to use your relaxation techniques and figure out how to calm yourself. The monitor gives you instant feedback, so you know if you’re doing it right or not. So, if you feel like when you are having an anxiety attack you can’t control what is happening to you, biofeedback therapy may be for you.
Alternative Mental Health Therapy: Other Disorders
Ayurveda medicine is another alternative medicine tradition that originates from India. Unlike most of western medicine, Ayurveda focuses on the whole person. Body, mind, and personality are the three units that make up who you are. Ayurvedic doctors believe that there are channels in the body that, if unhealthy, cause disease. These channels, however, can be opened by oil massage treatments, changes in diet, and herbs. Much of the tradition has to do with building a healthy metabolism, which can be done with good exercise, yoga, and meditation. Plants that are generally used in treatment are cardamom, cinnamon, and even purified opium. Ayurveda looks at mental illness as a interconnected issue with the entire body. Therefore, treatment for mental illness must be holistic.
If you are the type of person that doesn’t vaccinate, then homeopathy may not be for you. Homeopathic therapy, also a pseudo science, functions on this simple premise: Like cures like. Basically, if something is causing a disease in a healthy person, it should cure the disease in a sick one. As a result, it tries to balance out what is going on inside your body by counteracting it. Using animal, plant, mineral, or other substances, practitioners choose the drug preparation based on the symptoms you are displaying. If you are not up for taking the slight risk that you may react badly to a preparation, then homeopathy may not be for you. However, if you have tried everything, then maybe you want to think about giving it a shot.
Who Actually Does It?
At this point you may be wondering: do people actually buy into this sort of thing? However, statistics show in a study by the National Institute of Health that 38% of adults have used some form of alternative therapy, and 17% for mental health purposes. If you are tired of talk therapy and antidepressants and looking to try something new, you clearly aren’t alone. You may be skeptical of the alternative mental health therapy options listed above, but don’t knock it till you try it. Something unconventional may be just what you need.
Deepti is a writer that specialises in neuroscience and psychology. She is passionate about modern medicine and finding other therapeutic techniques, and how both of these effect the developing brain. Deepti is extremely interested in the future of mental health awareness and treatment, and is always open to advice.