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.