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Dr. Teralyn Sell Talks About the Country’s Current Mental Health Crisis

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Last Updated on May 20, 2024 by Carol Gillette

Dr. Teralyn Sell Talks About the Country’s Current Mental Health Crisis

Mental health concerns affect millions of Americans, and those problems were only exacerbated by the pandemic and lockdown.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness finds that one in five adults in this country experiences mental health problems each year.

According to NAMI, one in 20 of those mental health problems are severe.1 The societal and economic impact of our country’s current mental health crisis continues to be one of the most significant issues we face as a nation. These impacts are, of course, in addition to the personal and familial impacts faced by these individuals and their loved ones.

A growing number of healthcare professionals and mental health experts are joining Alternative to Meds Center in our increasing concern that mental health symptoms are often made worse by the overprescription of psychotropic drugs to treat them. Dr. Teralyn Sell recently came on the Alternative to Meds Center podcast to dive into these issues. She provided tips and advice for addressing mental health and overall health issues like fatigue, anxiety, and depression using holistic alternatives.
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A Look at America’s Mental Health Crisis

America’s mental health crisis is no secret. A recent poll found that 90% of Americans believe our country is in the midst of a mental health crisis, and the numbers back up those beliefs.2 An estimated 44 million Americans reported living with a mental illness, and sixteen million of them live with depression.1 This is especially significant because the economic cost of depression alone is $236 billion per year.3 This economic cost includes medical services, workplace costs (absenteeism and reduced productivity), and suicide-related costs.

The group that is seeing the greatest increase in depression is younger adults ages 18 to 34. That group accounts for around 48% of adults who struggle with depression.3 Officials worry that this recent influx is stressing medical facility capacity. Health clinics that treat people having mental health crises were stretched 144% in 2021, according to data from the federal government.4

adults who struggle with depression

So, why is this crisis occurring? Research shows that more than any other Western country, Americans are over-reliant on prescription medications. A recent study by Penn State found that an American male born in 2019 stands to spend 48% of their life taking prescription drugs, while females born in 2019 are projected to spend an average of 60% of their lifetime on prescription medications.5

Research demonstrates that prescription medications can have a profound effect on mental health symptoms. So, what do we do when prescription medications serve to worsen the very issues they’re meant to treat, thus inflating the mental health crisis? First and foremost, it’s crucial to find alternatives to pharmaceutical treatments for mental health symptoms.

Dr. Teralyn Sell Gives Advice for Stress Management and More

Dr. Teralyn Sell recently visited our podcast to provide useful information and tips for how you can use alternatives to medications to improve your mental health and overall well-being. Throughout the interview, Dr. Sell reminded our podcast followers that the body requires a lengthy list of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients to function. Proper nutrition is critical to your health because an oversupply of unhealthy foods and a lack of proper nutrition affect how your body and mind function. Thus, issues that are often medicated, like irritability, lack of focus, and difficulty sleeping, can be more properly addressed by focusing on a balanced and healthy diet.

Dr. Sell and Debbie Nelson explored a few potential impacts of positive dietary choices and other holistic treatment measures.

The Problem with Sugar and Caffeine

The Problem with Sugar and Caffeine

Alternative to Meds Center’s Debbie Nelson noted that sugar and caffeine are two substances that are directly tied to certain disorders, yet we don’t always talk about the potential health hazards they pose. For example, here at Alternative to Meds Center, we’ve noticed that individuals who are going through recovery programs to address drug addictions often replace one drug with something new – often other addictive substances like sugar and caffeine. Dr. Sell and Debbie noted that treatment centers could do more to prioritize nutrition for recovering addicts.

Adrenal Issues

Issues with the adrenal gland could also be addressed without the need for medication. The adrenal system plays a crucial role in governing many bodily functions, most notably regulating hormones that, in turn regulate emotions like aggression and stress. Dr. Teralyn Sell says she experienced adrenal fatigue for years, and a side effect she noticed was a drop in cortisol levels that can lead to symptoms including fatigue, difficulty focusing, and racing thoughts that make sleep difficult.

The solution to many of these imbalances, she says, can be found in holistic practices. Understanding which nutrients you may be low on and taking time to meditate can address issues like fatigue without the need for prescription medication. In addition, she recommends adaptogenic herbs that may help address stress, boost relaxation, and lower blood pressure.

Critical Hormones and Prescription Medications

Dr. Teralyn Sell says cortisol is a naturally produced chemical that everyone should pay more attention to. Cortisol interacts with dopamine, which regulates your mood. Dopamine is also an important driver that motivates us to take important actions. Doctors often over-prescribe SSRIs to address dopamine imbalances that are tied to low cortisol, which can create chemical dependencies.

Alternatives to Prescription Medications

Addiction to prescription drugs is a serious problem and a key component of this country’s current mental health crisis. While prescription pain medications and the opioid epidemic are consistently in the news, it’s important to recognize that this problem goes far beyond opioid abuse. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics finds that 16 million Americans misuse prescription medications every year. Around 12% of prescription drug users are addicted to the prescription drugs they are prescribed.6

Anyone who has a history of addiction should try to avoid prescription drugs that can lead to new addictive patterns. A more holistic treatment through proper nutrition can improve mental health problems without the need for prescribing drugs that replace one problem with another. Art therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and other holistic treatments and activities can provide many of the same forms of relief as prescription drugs.

Learn more about these options.

Art Therapy

Art therapy can be beneficial to anyone, but it is especially useful for those who need treatment for substance use disorder. Often, people who are not as receptive to talk therapy can use art therapy to communicate important information about themselves and their mental state. In addition, the act of making art in and of itself can be very therapeutic.

Art therapy can be beneficial to anyone

Artmaking is a versatile therapy because it can be done over a wide range of mediums that can include drawing, painting, watercolor, photography, and even digital art. Art therapists work with clients on an individual basis or in groups. The therapy is accessible to people of differing mental and physical capabilities. As an important holistic mental health treatment, we at Alternative to Meds Center find great value in art therapy.

Yoga Sessions

Yoga and other holistic treatments

Many people think about yoga as an exercise that improves flexibility, but it can do much more. Yoga therapy can help people who struggle with substance use disorder and other mental health problems. Balancing the body can balance the head. Yoga is also a great way to calm the mind and reduce stress. We encourage anyone recovering from addiction or dealing with neurotoxin overload to consider yoga as a safe and effective form of treatment to help combat the mental health crisis.

Acupuncture Therapy

Acupuncture offers another potent alternative to prescription medication. Prescription drugs offer one treatment option for drug-related problems, but pharmaceuticals can come with side effects that can prevent the completion of treatment. Acupuncture has been shown to help reduce symptoms for a wide range of mental health problems and conditions that include anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, personality disorders, and other conditions.

Acupuncture Therapy

As with any mental health disorder, it is important to treat the whole person and not just isolated symptoms. Anyone who wishes to avoid prescription medications that can be addictive and cause side effects can work with an acupuncture therapist to address their symptoms.

IV Therapy

Gastrointestinal problems can often lead to poor absorption of nutrients, which can, in turn, lead to significant imbalances within the body. IV therapy offers a treatment option that bypasses the GI system entirely. The bags of fluids can help your body replenish vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Crystalloid solutions are commonly administered because the molecules easily pass from the bloodstream into vital organs.

IV Therapy

IV therapy can be used for medical purposes and mental health issues in tandem. If your condition leads to dehydration, IV therapy can quickly restore the proper level of fluids that your body needs. Solutions with vitamin C and other nutrients can boost your immune system, which can result in improved feelings of well-being. Our immune system plays an important role in reducing stress and protecting us from depression and anxiety. The right blend of vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants can also help you recover from strenuous workouts.

Holistic Detox Therapies

Prescription medications, alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs can remain in our system for days, weeks, or even longer. We are often so used to the loss of energy and other negative side effects that we forget how we can feel when our body is rid of toxins. Holistic detox restores vital micronutrients that drugs strip away.

Treatments can include:
  • Sauna
  • Colon Hydrotherapy
  • Orthomolecular medicine
  • Nebulized glutathione treatments
  • Environmental medicine
  • IV treatments
Unlike many detox fads you may have heard about, a holistic detox can require two months or longer to complete. However, the benefits are well worth the time and effort. Toxins that accumulate in your body can lead to serious health problems and conditions, and removing them can make a significant difference.

Beyond exposure to pharmaceutical drugs, many people are exposed to toxic metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury that can build up in the body and become embedded in organs, muscles, and bones. The dangerous effects of the metals and drugs may not be noticeable at first, but the kidneys and liver can quickly become overwhelmed and unable to fully cleanse the body of toxins. The aim of holistic detoxification treatments is to reduce the burden on these vital organs by removing dangerous metals and lingering drugs from your body.

How Can Alternatives to Medications Help Our Nation’s Mental Health Crisis?

Over-prescription of medications is one cause of our country’s current mental health crisis. Prescribing medication to address addiction, for example, often replaces one addiction with another. As described earlier, millions of Americans are addicted to prescription medications, and this leads to patterns of abuse that can cause serious physical and mental harm. Medications also prevent people from addressing the underlying causes of their stress, anxiety, and other symptoms.

Fortunately, mental health symptoms caused by things like low cortisol levels can often be improved with proper nutrition, and many stress-related symptoms can be better addressed through meditation, yoga, and exercise. As Dr. Teralyn Sell reminds us, our bodies require a healthy blend of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. One of the first treatments we can look to for improved health is improved nutrition, and a great place to start is by cutting back on sugar, caffeine, and anything artificial or processed. Then, add in beneficial alternative therapies like art therapy, acupuncture, yoga, and more to ensure you are holistically treating your entire person.

Holistically treating your entire person

Learn More About the Benefits of Alternatives to Meds

America’s overreliance on prescription medication often leads to addictive behaviors and overmedication. Many mental health issues can be better and more safely addressed by understanding how the body and mind interact rather than treating them as separate entities. The team at Alternative to Meds Center brings together a wide range of medical and mental health professionals who can customize a recovery plan that restores your health and wellness.

To learn more, fill out our online form. One of our Admissions Representatives will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

References :

1. NAMI. (2023). Mental Health By the Numbers. NAMI. Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

2. Insel, T. (2023, December 8). America’s Mental Health Crisis. The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

3. Greenberg, P.E., et al. (2021). The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States. Pharmacoeconomics. 2021 May 5;1-13.

4. Greenberg, P.E., Fournier, AA., Sisitsky, T. et al. The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2010 and 2018). PharmacoEconomics 39, 653–665 (2021).

5. Ho, J. (2023). Life Course Patterns of Prescription Drug Use in the United States. Demography, 60 (5): 1549–1579.

6. NCDAS. (2024). Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics – NCDAS. Drug Abuse Statistics. Retrieved April 12, 2024, from

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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Medical Disclaimer:
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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