Complementary & Alternative Treatments

By: Dr Carla Kesrouani June 15, 2023 no comments

Complementary & Alternative Treatments

While prescription drugs and talk therapy are mainstream options for treating mental health conditions, alternative and complementary therapies can provide additional relief by addressing the entire body-mind system. Natural remedies like acupuncture, massage therapy and yoga have shown promise as adjunct treatments for anxiety, depression and other issues.

Benefits of Complementary Therapies

Reduces Stress. Massage, acupressure and qi gong regularly activate the parasympathetic nervous system which counters the “fight or flight” stress response. These practices lower levels of cortisol, blood pressure and feelings of tension.

Calms the Mind.Acupuncture and massage improve sleep quality which helps regulate mood and anxiety. Yoga, tai chi and meditation train the mind to focus while releasing negative thoughts that fuel distress. Participants often report increased clarity, peacefulness and mental stability.

Encourages Self-Care. Engaging in natural healing practices gives patients an active role in managing their mental wellbeing. They adopt lifestyle strategies that empower them to relieve symptoms on an ongoing basis versus relying solely on medication.

Mechanisms of Action

The possible effects of alternative treatments are multifold. For example, acupuncture stimulates the release of natural pain relievers in the body which may also ease symptoms of depression. Massage activates the parasympathetic nervous system and increases circulation of feel-good hormones to naturally lift mood.

Furthermore, mindfulness-based practices like yoga encourage patients to observe thoughts non-judgmentally. Over time, this weakens associations between triggers and distressing emotions that fuel conditions like anxiety.

Research on Effectiveness

Though studies are limited, many show positive results for complementary therapies as adjunctive care. A review found acupuncture reduced depression symptoms by around 50% and several rigorous trials show massage lowers anxiety and improves sleep. More research is ongoing, yet early findings indicate these natural remedies can enhance standard mental health interventions when incorporated as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

In conclusion, alternative therapies offer a holistic way to balance both the body and mind in those experiencing mental distress. When paired with standard medications and talk therapy, natural remedies like acupuncture, massage and yoga can address a wider range of needs which may improve patients’ quality of life and accelerate recovery from conditions like anxiety and depression.

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