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Alternative Treatment for Mental Health

This entry was posted in Mental Health and tagged on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on August 3, 2023 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Alternative treatment for mental health is our specialty at Alternative to Meds Center, housed in a pristine, welcoming inpatient facility, and staffed by holistic-minded medical practitioners and caregivers.

alternative mental health treatmentAccording to a number of experts,4 a significant volume of adult disability occurs in the realm of mental illness. Yet, some of the world’s most highly esteemed mental health professionals have voiced concern over the traditional methods of care that may fall short of what is needed for today’s best treatment outcomes.4,5

While the mainstream of medicine and mental health treatment evolves slowly, fresh perspectives are leaning toward more modern, holistic treatments. Some are calling for a complete paradigm shift, preferring to see more use of alternative treatment for mental health, as well as integrative approaches, and more emphasis on collaborative and complementary medicine than ever before.1,3

Evidence-Based Alternative Mental Health Therapies

Alternative to Meds Center uses many well-tested alternative therapies for mental health, and these have shown therapeutic value when tested in studies and trials.2

Alternative Mental Health Therapies:

*The benefits of CBT have been documented in various situations by the World Bank Open Knowledge Repository.7

many benefits of cognitive behavioral therapyStrikingly, where alternative treatments, in general, used to be considered “unorthodox” (scientifically unproven), today are commonly considered very much orthodox (scientifically validated) based on studies done.2 Today’s alternative mental health treatments have replaced yesterday’s prefrontal lobotomy and blood-letting. Similarly, the pharmacological hold on the health industry, in general, has begun to loosen its monopolistic grasp. This has allowed for more opportunities than ever before for clients to choose non-drug-based treatment for authentic and effective help with mental health issues. Effective treatments do not introduce addiction or dependence on drugs and do not further damage neurochemistry with toxic substances.

What is the Connection between Diet and Mental Wellness?

organic diet essential for good mental healthNutrition has progressed as a body of scientific research showing a clear connection between the advantages of proper nutrition, as well as the both physical and mental consequences of poor dietary choices. Much has been written on the topic and is available for anyone to find out more.8-11

For example, in a comprehensive paper on the subject of diet as an alternative mental health treatment, Firth et al describe the advantages of the “Mediterranean” diet, as opposed to the negative outcomes associated with the typical “Western” diet. Studies such as those of Godos, and others have found significantly better cardiovascular health, better cognitive health, quality sleep, and better mood regulation is found in populations who adhere to foods that are described in the Mediterranean diet. Other documented benefits include prevention against cancer, diabetes, obesity, and many others.

The Mediterranean diet consists of plenty of fruits and vegetables, fish and fish oils high in Omega-3s, and animal proteins. While whole grains are advocated by some, heavy intake of grains has been associated with an overall higher incidence of depression, anxiety, and other psychological disturbances.

Gardeners use soil testing to find out why certain plants are not thriving. Similarly, lab testing can help determine what nutrients are missing or are out of balance in a person’s body. Where deficiencies are found, foods and supplements can be added to supply what has been lacking, with remarkable benefits overall to a person’s health profile.

In mainstream psychiatry, drugs are viewed as “medicine” — so you take a pill for mental wellness. This approach has not seen the success that was hoped for in many cases. An alternative approach is to correct the diet to supply what the CNS and the complex body systems need for optimum efficient interaction. Diet is a fundamental pillar to support life.

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Neurotoxicity and Mental Health

neurotoxins detrimental to mental healthOne factor that is often overlooked is the mental health decline that can occur after exposure to neurotoxic chemicals and heavy metals.6 These toxic substances can be found in everyday cleaning supplies, industrial chemicals, dental amalgams, our water and air, preservatives and enhancers found in food, and countless other sources.

The effects of toxic exposure on mental health have been verified in studies, therefore it makes sense to make an attempt to assess toxic body burden as part of any health assessment done that seeks an improvement in mental health factors, as well as physical symptoms related to toxic exposure. Cleansing, low-temperature sauna, nutritional support, and other strategies can aid the natural process of shedding this toxic burden. Our clients tend to stabilize on this step, as they improve sleep quality, appetite, mood, and other benefits. As a preparatory step to medication withdrawal, it is invaluable due to these improvements.

Practical Applications of Alternative Mental Health Therapies for Real Success

Physical Exercise

Physical exercise is one of the best antidepressants out there, and it doesn’t require a prescription! According to individual studies authored by Imboden, Schuch, Hemmeter, and others, physical activity has many positive effects like preventing depression, alleviating anxiety, improving sleep disorders, and many other benefits.12-15

In the treatment of schizophrenia and psychosis, physical exercise is a recommended therapeutic approach both for mental improvements and preventing or correcting lifestyle factors that could otherwise lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

Especially in the elderly, exercise can have a profound benefit that can significantly lessen the vulnerability of developing mental disorders and physical deterioration. Hemmeter reports that elderly populations can create or maintain a younger health profile — in fact, creating a younger biological age — through sports and other regular physical activities. This is exciting news!

Light Therapy

Light therapy is associated with improvements in depression, especially in locales that experience shortening windows of exposure to the sun that occur in the winter months. This condition is typically called “seasonal affective disorder,” or “the winter blues.”

However, light therapy has also shown significant benefits even in “non-season” depression. So, we can experience health improvements all year round, even when the sun has seemingly abandoned us.16,17

Physical Therapies for Mental Wellness

Along with sports or aerobic activities, there are other wonderful physical therapies that have been scrutinized in clinical studies to determine whether they can help with mental disorders.18-20

These include yoga, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, and animal-assisted therapy, such as equine therapy. According to the published research, all of these physical activities can also have positive effects on mental well-being, including relaxation, increased serotonin production, and many other positive changes.

Of course, these are not quite as easy as taking a pill, but the rewards can definitely pay off in spades when it comes to better mental wellness.


Counseling such as CBT has received much praise and has found a prominent place in the treatment of depression, and anxiety.

Relief is effective in the short term, in fact, equal to or better than medication, but also can last in the long term, for far longer than medication-based treatments, according to published studies.21-23

Alternative to Meds Center’s Focus

comprehensive holistic mental health treatmentMost importantly, our focus is not the temporary masking or numbing of symptoms but the positive achievement of wellness and natural mental health. In our programs, many forms of counseling are employed as well as physical therapies for physical and mental improvements, lowered stress levels, brighter mood, and more. Coming off medications is made easier when the original symptoms can be addressed concurrently with effective treatments.

Our staff roster constitutes over 40 professionals who are exceptionally equipped to assist all of our clients to achieve their health goals along the evidence-based pathways that alternative treatment for mental health and complementary medicine can provide. Please contact us directly to find out how we can be of service to you or your loved one. We have offered holistic alternative mental health treatments for more than 15 years with documented success.


1. Lake J, Turner M, “Urgent Need for Improved Mental Health Care and a More Collaborative Model of Care” . 2017; 21: 17-024.10.7812/TPP/17-024 PMCID: PMC5593510 PMID: 28898197 [INTERNET[ 2017 Aug 11 [cited 2020 August 18]

2. Schultz P, Hede V, “Alternative and complementary approaches in psychiatry: beliefs versus evidence” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience [INTERNET] 2018 Sep [cited 2020 Apr 13]

3. WHO Press Release, “Mental disorders affect one in four people.” Report from Geneva 2001 [Internet] [cited 2020 Aug 18]

4. World Bank, “Mental Health” [Internet] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 14]

5. Batada, Amirali; Leon Solano, Rene.”Harnessing Technology to Address the Global Mental Health Crisis.” Open Knowledge Repository, [Internet] 2019 World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO [cited 2020 Oct 14]

6. “Mental Health and Environmental Exposures.”  from the Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative [Internet] 2008 [cited 2020 Oct 14]

7. “Group-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Training Improves Mental Health of SME Entrepreneurs : Experimental Evidence from Conflict-Affected Areas of Pakistan” Open Knowledge Repository, World Bank Group [cited 2020 Oct 14]

8. Firth, J., Gangwisch, J. E., Borisini, A., Wootton, R. E., & Mayer, E. A. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?BMJ (Clinical research ed.)369, m2382. [cited 2023 July 31]

9. Godos J, Grosso G, Ferri R, Caraci F, Lanza G, Al-Qahtani WH, Caruso G, Castellano S. Mediterranean diet, mental health, cognitive status, quality of life, and successful aging in southern Italian older adults. Exp Gerontol. 2023 May;175:112143. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2023.112143. Epub 2023 Mar 16. PMID: 36907474. [cited 2023 July 31]

10. Widmer RJ, Flammer AJ, Lerman LO, Lerman A. The Mediterranean diet, its components, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Med. 2015 Mar;128(3):229-38. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.10.014. Epub 2014 Oct 15. PMID: 25447615; PMCID: PMC4339461. [cited 2023 July 31]

11. Sadeghi O, Keshteli AH, Afshar H, Esmaillzadeh A, Adibi P. Adherence to Mediterranean dietary pattern is inversely associated with depression, anxiety and psychological distress. Nutr Neurosci. 2021 Apr;24(4):248-259. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2019.1620425. Epub 2019 Jun 11. PMID: 31185883.[cited 2023 July 31]

12. Imboden C, Claussen MC, Seifritz E, Gerber M. Die Bedeutung von körperlicher Aktivität für die psychische Gesundheit [The Importance of Physical Activity for Mental Health]. Praxis (Bern 1994). 2022;110(4):186-191. German. doi: 10.1024/1661-8157/a003831. PMID: 35291871.[cited 2023 July 31]

13. Schuch FB, Vancampfort D. Physical activity, exercise, and mental disorders: it is time to move on. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. 2021 Jul-Sep;43(3):177-184. doi: 10.47626/2237-6089-2021-0237. Epub 2021 Apr 21. PMID: 33890431; PMCID: PMC8638711. [cited 2023 July 31]

14. McKeon G, Curtis J, Rosenbaum S. Promoting physical activity for mental health: an updated evidence review and practical guide. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2022 Jul 1;35(4):270-276. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000796. Epub 2022 Jun 9. PMID: 35674711. [cited 2023 July 31]

15. Hemmeter UM, Ngamsri T. Körperliche Aktivität und psychische Gesundheit: Fokus Alter [Physical Activity and Mental Health in the Elderly]. Praxis (Bern 1994). 2022;110(4):193-198. German. doi: 10.1024/1661-8157/a003853. PMID: 35291872.[cited 2023 July 31]

16. Wirz-Justice A, Terman AM. CME: Light Therapy: Why, What, for Whom, How, and When (And a Postscript about Darkness). Praxis (Bern 1994). 2022 Feb;110(2):56-62. doi: 10.1024/1661-8157/a003821. PMID: 35105211. [cited 2023 July 31]

17. Tao L, Jiang R, Zhang K, Qian Z, Chen P, Lv Y, Yao Y. Light therapy in non-seasonal depression: An update meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res. 2020 Sep;291:113247. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113247. Epub 2020 Jun 22. PMID: 32622169. [cited 2023 July 31]

18. Brinsley J, Schuch F, Lederman O, Girard D, Smout M, Immink MA, Stubbs B, Firth J, Davison K, Rosenbaum S. Effects of yoga on depressive symptoms in people with mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2021 Sep;55(17):992-1000. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101242. Epub 2020 May 18. PMID: 32423912.[cited 2023 July 31]

19. Kamioka H, Okada S, Tsutani K, Park H, Okuizumi H, Handa S, Oshio T, Park SJ, Kitayuguchi J, Abe T, Honda T, Mutoh Y. Effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Apr;22(2):371-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.12.016. Epub 2014 Jan 6. PMID: 24731910.[cited 2023 July 31]

20. Samuels N, Gropp C, Singer SR, Oberbaum M. Acupuncture for psychiatric illness: a literature review. Behav Med. 2008 Summer;34(2):55-64. doi: 10.3200/BMED.34.2.55-64. PMID: 18682338.[cited 2023 July 31]

21. López-López JA, Davies SR, Caldwell DM, Churchill R, Peters TJ, Tallon D, Dawson S, Wu Q, Li J, Taylor A, Lewis G, Kessler DS, Wiles N, Welton NJ. The process and delivery of CBT for depression in adults: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Psychol Med. 2019 Sep;49(12):1937-1947. doi: 10.1017/S003329171900120X. Epub 2019 Jun 10. PMID: 31179960; PMCID: PMC6712954.[cited 2023 July 31]

22. Olthuis JV, Watt MC, Bailey K, Hayden JA, Stewart SH. Therapist-supported Internet cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 12;3(3):CD011565. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011565.pub2. PMID: 26968204; PMCID: PMC7077612. [cited 2023 July 31]

23. Zu S, Xiang YT, Liu J, Zhang L, Wang G, Ma X, Kilbourne AM, Ungvari GS, Chiu HF, Lai KY, Wong SY, Yu DS, Li ZJ. A comparison of cognitive-behavioral therapy, antidepressants, their combination and standard treatment for Chinese patients with moderate-severe major depressive disorders. J Affect Disord. 2014 Jan;152-154:262-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2013.09.022. Epub 2013 Oct 4. PMID: 24140226.[cited 2023 July 31]

Originally Published Apr 13, 2020 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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