Alternative Therapies for Mental Health: When To Try And What To Avoid

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Every mental health issue is different. Each person has his own story of how his situation developed, and likewise, no two people will take the exact same path to wellness.

So how do you know what is most likely to work for you? Which options should you choose?

In the modern world, “alternative” therapies are becoming much more mainstream, especially when used in conjunction with traditional therapy regimens. The data suggest that certain alternative treatments have much to offer, but keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for the next.

Rehabilitate Your Whole Self

Drugs and alcohol are often associated with mental health issues. If you suffer from alcohol addiction or substance abuse, remember that these disorders damage the body as well as the mind. As your addiction ravaged your physical form, it also wrought tremendous damage to your mental and emotional health, decreasing your self-esteem and your sense of self-worth.

Any treatment program needs to work on bringing you back to physical and emotional health while addressing the issues that led you into illness. It isn’t enough to detox from your drug of choice; you must also identify the triggers that led to your addiction. You must also build up your physical and emotional strength so you can withstand the rigors of rehabilitation and the temptations that will come your way once you’re living a sober lifestyle. Consequently, avoid quick fixes in favor of programs with a more holistic focus.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, a good diet and exercise program, and counseling should all be part of whatever approach you choose. You may wish to add alternative therapy techniques as your schedule and your financing permits, and many insurance companies now cover much more than standard rehab.

A Focus on Wellness

Nutrition therapy helps rebuild the body you may have neglected during a prolonged mental health crisis. It also helps to stabilize mood and fight the effects of stress. Proper nutrition and hydration help to normalize brain chemistry and can help patients cope with their cravings.

Reducing and minimizing stress means an active awareness of how much stress is affecting you and working toward “chilling out”--many people can’t escape stress and just acknowledging this fact can’t help to remove the stigma; likewise, be aware that problems will not be with you forever, and what seems like a crisis today can become a springboard toward something better if you can see what lessons the problem has to teach you.

Exercise boosts immune response and releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers and mood elevators in the brain. Working out rewires the brain and improves all aspects of your physical and mental functioning. Consider strength training to build stronger bones and muscles, and add some cardio to help lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Meditation and yoga can help you regain emotional balance and give you tools for managing stressors. Learning neurofeedback techniques can help you relax, relieve depression, and improve your mental clarity. Acupuncture and acupressure during the detox period can relieve cravings and regulate dopamine levels. Pet therapy and horticulture can relieve depression and promote a general return to health by helping patients connect to and care for others, increasing self-esteem and teaching valuable life skills.


Before investing your time and money on a therapy regimen, make sure to do some research. Check out the facility beforehand, and talk to people who have successfully regained their equilibrium in the program. Additionally, look into the statistics on the program’s efficacy and history.

Be leery of trendy sites and tactics in the news and on social media. A quality program will be accredited and should have plenty of statistical material showing how effective it is. It will employ licensed professionals with numerous references. It should do more than just help you through detox. The right program will address the issues that helped cause your situation and will provide for aftercare as well.

Equally crucial is finding a treatment regimen that works for you as an individual. For example, a faith-based approach is unlikely to work for someone who identifies as an atheist, and a program that targets single young people is less likely to work for an older, married person with children.

Even though it’s important to find a good program, always remember that the most crucial aspect of your recovery is not the program you choose but your commitment to it. Deciding to prioritize your own health and wellness is the first step on your way back to a healthy emotional status. Focus on regaining your health and well-being, and choose professionals and treatment methods that will support your conviction to a better lifestyle.

Don’t be discouraged if a program or regimen doesn’t work as well for you as it does for other people. Most importantly, remember that emotional healing is a gift you are giving to yourself for a better future.

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