advertisement

Alternative Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

Which alternative treatments work for depression and anxiety? A succinct summary of the scientific evidence.

Which alternative treatments work for depression and anxiety? A succinct summary of the scientific evidence.

Most people with depression or anxiety try to manage the illness themselves. Some of these self-management approaches have undergone some reasonable scientific testing and can therefore be tried, especially when the depression is not severe or life-threatening.

  • Some common strategies like drinking more alcohol or smoking cannabis are clearly unhelpful.

  • Other people try alternative therapies or adjusting their life-cycle. Some activities like increased physical activity or attention to sleep patterns are clearly beneficial.

  • Herbal remedies and other alternative health practices may be either helpful or harmful.

  • Some of these approaches have undergone some reasonable scientific testing and can therefore be tried, especially when the depression is not severe or life-threatening. Treatments in the 'poor evidence' box below need more studies to see whether they are helpful or not.

TABLE 1. EVIDENCE-BASE OF DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION

Good Evidence Some Evidence Poor Evidence
- St John's Wort
- Physical exercise
- Self-help books involving cognitive behavior therapy
- Light therapy (for winter depression)
- Acupuncture
- Light therapy (for non-seasonal depression)
- Massage therapy
- Negative air ionisation (for winter depression)
- Relaxation therapy
- SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine)*
- Folate
- Yoga breathing exercises
- Ginseng
- Lemon balm
- Painkillers
- Vervain#
- Colour therapy
- Prayer
- Chocolate

*SAMe is an amino acid that occurs naturally in cells. # Vervain is a traditional herbal remedy for depression consisting of the aerial parts of a flowering plant.
Source: Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Rodgers B. Effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for depression. MJA 2002; 176 Suppl
May 20: p. S84-96.

TABLE 2. EVIDENCE-BASE OF DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS FOR ANXIETY

Good Evidence Some Evidence* Poor Evidence
- Kava
- Exercise
- Relaxation therapy
- Bibliotherapy
- Acupuncture
- Music
- Autogenic training#
- Meditation
- Inositol##
- Alcohol avoidance
- Dance/ movement therapy
- Bach flower remedies
- Berocca
- Ginger
- Gotu Kola
- Herbal preparations
- Homeopathy
- Lemongrass
- Licorice
- Magnesium
- Passionflower
- St John's Wort
- Valerian
- Vitamin C
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan
- Aromatherapy
- Hydrotherapy
- Massage/ touch therapy
- Humour
- Prayer
- Yoga
- Caffeine reduction
- Carbohydrate rich, protein- poor diet
- Nicotine avoidance

 

*The evidence for the alternative treatments in this column pertains to specific types of anxiety disorders ranging from generalized anxiety disorder to obsessive compulsive disorder. #Autogenic training is a self-relaxation procedure that is based on passive concentration on bodily perceptions (eg. heaviness and warmth of legs). ##IInositol is an isomer of glucose and it occurs in the normal human diet with around one gram per day being consumed. Source: Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Parslow RA, Rodgers B, Blewitt KA. Effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for anxiety disorders. MJA (in press).


 


back to: Alternative Medicine Home ~ Alternative Medicine Treatments

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, December 7). Alternative Treatments for Depression and Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alternative-mental-health/treatments/alternative-treatments-for-depression-and-anxiety

Last Updated: July 10, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

More Info