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Can alternative treatments help mental health problems?

David Tolin
Psychology
I would encourage caution when it comes to alternative mental health treatments.  In most cases, there is little or no scientific evidence to support their use, and in some cases they have even been shown to be harmful.  Statements about the benefits of things like art therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy, nutritional suplements, and so on are based on opinion and anecdote, not science.

Conversely, science has shown us beyond a reasonable doubt that some mental health treatments truly are effective.  Certain medications, for example, can be very helpful for severe illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Cognitive-behavioral therapy can have very powerful results for problems such as depression and anxiety.

Alternative treatments for mental health problems can be helpful for some people. Many people find self-help and support groups are very useful. Expressive therapies, such as dance therapy, art therapy, and music therapy can be beneficial. Relaxation and stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, and guided imagery help many people cope with symptoms such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Nutritional therapy using supplements may be helpful for some. Before exploring any alternative therapy for mental illness, discuss it with your doctor or therapist to be sure it's right for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.