Holistic Treatment Alternatives to Psychiatric Drugs: Part 2

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Many Eastern healing modalities would take a more holistic approach to treating mental illnesses compared to Western medicine.  The basis to these holistic approaches often is energy medicine.  Many Eastern cultures believe in a universal life energy force that flows through out all living beings.  They believe that when this energy is off balance it can lead to symptoms of pain and disease.  Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine modality that dates back to ancient times.  The system uses a complex series of meridians and points on the body often referred to as acupuncture points.  Each point corresponds to a particular organ in the body.  When a particular point is stimulated, it works on a corelated area of the body to clear energy blockages and relieve pain.  Acupuncture uses special needles to stimulate points, whereas acupressure using one’s thumb or fingers to apply pressure.  There are critics who suggest acupuncture an acupressure have no scientific basis and do not work.  However, there are many people who receive the treatments and report that they feel better.  Relief has been found for chronic pain and inflammation to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.  For example, a study was done to test the effectiveness of acupuncture on a sample of depressed women.  Results from the study concluded that acupuncture can provide significant relief for depression at a comparable rate of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (1). 

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Practicing Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness have also been proven to successfully treat anxiety and depression.  Yoga uses breathing techniques and mediations that focus on being in the present moment.  Some call this being in the sacred space. Being in this sacred space and focusing one’s awareness on the present moment helps reduce stress.  What also makes yoga special is that it can be done on different levels.   It can also be done for different purposes, all being beneficial to mind, body, spirit.  High intensity Yoga would provide a more physical workout.  Low intensity and a more meditative yoga would be for cooling down and relaxing the body and mind.  Hot Yoga uses heat to help detoxify the mind and body.   Yoga can be done with or without accessories such as rubber resistance bands, blocks and Yoga mats.  A Yoga study was done with a sample of university employees using a Yoga group and control group.  The Yoga group reported having an overall improved sense of well-being, satisfaction, and greater confidence in stressful situations.  The study concluded that Yoga is effective in creating resilience to people experiencing stress in the work place.  The workplace is just one area that people carry stress, but very often work stress is taken home.  Adapting a routine and lifestyle that includes and/or incorporates Yoga, meditation and mindfulness will have lasting positive effects on stress and depression (2).

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(1). Allen, J., Schnyer, R., & Hitt, S. (1998). The Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Major Depression in Women. Psychological Science, 9(5), 397-401. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40063326 

(2). Hartfiel, N., Havenhand, J., Khalsa, S., Clarke, G., & Krayer, A. (2011). The effectiveness of yoga for the improvement of well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 37(1), 70-76. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40967889

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