Who doesn’t want to get off their medications or find alternatives to more prescription drugs. With unpleasant side-effects and the risk of become “treatment resistant” from long-term use of psychiatric medications there is a dire need for alternative treatment options.1 But are they effective?
While slow to accelerate, research is now beginning to look at multiple lifestyle interventions for the treatment of mental illnesses and the results are promising. It is now widely recognized that modifiable components such as diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation, modification of substance use (e.g. nicotine and alcohol), and enhancement of social networks are vital for general mental health.2,3
Make no mistake, mental health conditions are real diseases, with debilitating symptoms. But just like the risk of lung cancer plummets when someone quits smoking or cholesterol levels drop when a person switches to a plant-based diet, changes in lifestyle are also able to affect the physical health of the brain resulting in positive mental health outcomes.
Below are four of these research supported interventions and how they might be used to supplement and in some cases replace treatment with medications. If you are wanting to reduce your psychiatric medications, be sure to work closely with a trained mental health professional to follow a safe course of action.
Click on the pictures below to learn how research is confirming the effectiveness of each of these areas of lifestyle intervention.
While many may agree that the above interventions offer positive benefits to those struggling with mental health issues, the practical application holds some challenges. Few practitioners are prescribing these treatments and many patients cannot afford integrated treatments not covered by insurance. Systems that support individuals to attend and complete these types of interventions are few. Should these best practices be reserved only for the rich and famous? We say definitely not! This is one of the core reasons Beautiful Minds Wellness was established, to ensure integrated mental health treatments are available to people from every walk of life.
Imagine a comprehensive treatment plan that includes not only quality psychiatric care, but also a weekly massage, daily walks with a supportive group, nutrition classes with a sample healthy meal at the next-door vegetarian cafe, and some hydrotherapy at the wellness center. Our goal is to make this picture an everyday occurrence.
Join us in our efforts to change the paradigm around the treatment of mental health through donating or volunteering today.
1 Mad in America, Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia Strongly Lined to Dopamine Supersensitivity, April 2015
2 Sarris J. (2014) Anxiety. In: Sarris J., Wardle J., eds. Clinical Naturopathy: An Evidence-Based Guide to Practice, 2nd ed. Elsevier, Sydney.
3 Stanley S., Laugharne J. (2014) The impact of lifestyle factors on the physical health of people with a mental illness: a brief review. Int J Behav Med. 21, 275-281.