Alternative Treatments

Alternative treatments consist of a wide variety of healing techniques used to treat physical and emotional problems.  They are sometimes used in combination with conventional medical practices.  Alternative treatments are limited due to the lack of scientific evidence to support such methods and the lack of clear usage guidelines.  Below are some alternative treatments used for mental health issues. 



Meditative Practices

Meditation refers to a broad variety of practices and techniques used to increase awareness, promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force, and self-regulate the mind and body.  Various meditative practices have been employed since antiquity and continue to be an important part of spirituality and religion for people around the world.  Meditative practices have been used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, personality disorders, PTSD, stress, and other mental conditions.

Some commonly used methods by mental health care providers include:

  • Mindfulness is the process of focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.
  • Yoga is a collection of spiritual techniques and practices aimed at integrating mind body, and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique which involves slowly tensing and then relaxing the muscles throughout the body in order to learn how to monitor and control one’s state of muscular tension.
  • Guided imagery and Visualization involve guiding one’s mind to a more relaxed and focused state by using all of the senses to generate a mental image of various situations, places and emotions. 


Medical Marijuana

The use of marijuana for the treatment of mental conditions is controversial.  There are many anecdotal reports of the benefits of marijuana for the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.  Unfortunately, there are limited studies to support the universal usage of marijuana as a treatment method.  More information is known about the psychiatric risks of marijuana, which include addiction, anxiety, psychosis, and worsening of mood symptoms.  


Botox for Depression

Botulism toxin is currently be researched as a potential treatment of depression.  It involves injection of onabotulinumtoxinA into the corrugator and procerus frown muscles of the face.  Although there are only a few studies available,  it may be a complementary option for the treatment of depression.   

*Botox is not FDA approved for the treatment of depression.


Herbal Medicines and Supplements

There are many herbal medicines and supplements used around the world for the treatment of insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety and other mental conditions.  Before using any of these treatments, please check the safety of these options with your physician. 

  • St. John’s wort
  • Rhodiola rosea
  • Mulungu bark
  • Kava (kava-kava)
  • Saffron
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
  • Scutelleria lateriflora
  • Bacopa
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

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Acupuncture originates from traditional Chinese medicine.  It involves the insertion of thin needles through specific points along the body to balance the flow of energy or life force (Qi).  This energy (or Qi) flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs.  It is believed that physical and emotional symptoms occur when the flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced.  Acupuncture aims to restore this balance to the body and has been used to treat stress, anxiety and depression.  

*Please discuss these options with a physician.  Some of these treatments can have severe adverse effects or interactions with other treatments.