Stress, anxiety, depression, and various other factors affect our mental health. At times, the impact of these factors can lead to serious mental health problems.
According to SAMHSA, 22.8 percent of US adults experienced different mental disorders and illnesses in 2021. These disorders and illnesses ranged from anxiety and depression to PTSD and schizophrenia.
That same year, according to Statista, a little over 40 million US adults sought mental health treatment or counseling. Thus, one thing is for certain – many people aren’t hesitating to seek mental health treatment. However, most of those who seek such treatment opt for basic counseling and therapy. Many of them aren’t aware of the various alternative therapies that exist to deal with the same mental health problems.
Having established that, let us look at a few alternative therapies that can help improve your mental health.
#1 Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation, derived from ancient Buddhist practices, has gained immense popularity in recent years as a powerful tool for mental well-being. The essence of mindfulness lies in cultivating an awareness of the present moment without judgment.
By training the mind to focus on the breath, sensations, or thoughts, you can develop a heightened sense of self-awareness. This helps you build a more compassionate relationship with your thoughts and emotions. Incorporating mindfulness into daily routines through guided meditations, mindful breathing exercises, or even mindful walking can contribute significantly to better mental health.
Originating from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow or “qi.” While traditionally used to address physical ailments, acupuncture has gained recognition for its positive impact on mental health.
As you learn more about how acupuncture regulates the body's energy balance, you’ll realize that the procedure promotes the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins. These neurotransmitters, in turn, help with mood regulation. Acupuncture can also be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. In fact, in the US, the state of North Carolina has increasingly been using acupuncture therapy to deal with its growing mental health concerns.
According to North Carolina Health News, NC has seen a 31 percent increase in mental health crisis support calls between 2022 and 2023. These mental health problems have reached the city of Charlotte. Here, several local news outlets are saying that Charlotte’s “hidden crisis” is the current state of its populace’s worsening mental health. In such troubling times for Charlotte, acupuncture therapy has been gaining popularity.
According to Inner Peace Acupuncture, Charlotte residents enjoy how acupuncture is being used for treating issues like addiction, PTSD, and stress management. Plus, given how popular acupuncture has become in the area, many acupuncture therapy centers have popped up in this part of North Carolina. A simple ‘acupuncture near me’ search on Google is all it takes for locals to find a nearby acupuncture therapy center.
#3 Yoga Therapy
Yoga is not merely a physical exercise but a holistic system that integrates the mind, body, and spirit. Through a combination of physical postures, breath control, and meditation, yoga aims to create harmony within the individual.
Yoga therapy, an adapted form of yoga, tailors these practices to address specific mental health concerns.
The emphasis on mindfulness, breath awareness, and physical movement promotes relaxation and stress reduction. Yoga therapy, guided by certified instructors, further tailors these practices to individuals with specific mental health challenges, providing a personalized approach to well-being.
#4 Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Psychiatry
The connection between nutrition and mental health is gaining recognition in the field of alternative therapies. Herbal medicine and nutritional psychiatry focus on the impact of diet and specific herbs on mental well-being. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, play a crucial role in brain function and neurotransmitter production.
Herbs like lavender and chamomile have been traditionally used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Nutritional psychiatry encourages a balanced diet rich in nutrients that support mental health, emphasizing the importance of whole foods and the gut-brain connection.
While not a replacement for conventional psychiatric treatments, herbal medicine can complement existing therapies and contribute to a more comprehensive strategy for mental well-being.
In conclusion, as the landscape of mental health care evolves, alternative therapies are gaining recognition for their valuable contributions to holistic well-being.
According to the US CDC, 2.4 percent more American adults received mental health treatment in 2021 than in 2019. Therefore, it’s evident that more and more people are feeling comfortable talking about their problems and eager to work on their mental health.
The alternative therapies discussed above offer diverse approaches to addressing mental health concerns. As people are becoming more accepting of standard mental health treatments, they’ll likely be accepting of these diverse ones as well.
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I'm Alice and I live with a dizzying assortment of invisible disabilities, including ADHD and fibromyalgia. I write to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental and chronic illnesses of all kinds.