Complementary & Alternative Medicine for Senior Depression & Mental Illness
As covered in a previous post about senior mental health, access to care is largely stinted by many different factors. With depression rates going up, especially with the rise of the aging population, more and more people are turning to alternative healing. In fact, most people with major psychiatric disorders use alternative treatments in addition to prescription medication.
While we are in no way advocating for alternative healing in place of traditional methods of treatment, there are a number of options worth considering for you and/or a loved one with mental health concerns. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies are defined as holistic practices or products developed outside conventional healthcare. There are three main CAM categories: physical, nutraceutical, and herbal remedies. Continue below for more information.
Does Alternative Mental Healthcare Work?
Medically speaking, CAMs have been documented as effective in treating physical and psychological problems. However, there is nowhere near as much data on alternative approaches as standard medications or psychotherapies. For example, most CAMs are predominantly studied on patients of major depressive disorder; there is much less substantial research done on anxiety, bipolar, or schizophrenia. And, like any form of care, each individual reacts differently to its use/application, so it is very difficult to confirm its efficiency. The only way to know which CAM therapies will work on you or an elderly loved one is to first speak to your medical practitioner before trying them out.
Alternative Approaches to Senior Mental Health
We have compiled a list of known alternative medicines and methods for treating seniors with mental health complications:
Physical Therapies as Mental Healthcare for Older Adults
Physical activities and therapies are shown to increase people’s ability to tolerate stress and stimulate the receptors in the brain which trigger feelings of joy. Compared to the other categories, physical options are the most investigated of CAMs, including:
Nutraceuticals for Senior Depression & Other Mental Disorders
Nutraceuticals are essentially vitamins and minerals. To use them to treat depression, one must monitor the intake of these necessary nutrients for the body using pharmaceutical-grade units (i.e. pills, drops, etc). Here are some nutraceuticals shown to improve the symptoms of mental illness in seniors:
- Vitamin D
- Folic acid
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Herbal Remedies for Aging Persons with Mental Illness
These herbal remedies and supplements are another way people have explored depression treatment options in older adults. Remember — though these are all-natural products, they still have the potential for an unfavourable impact on the body.
- St. John’s Wort
What alternative methods do you use to help the symptoms of mental illness? Please let us know in the comments section below!
***Once again, please note that you should always talk to your doctor before pursuing these or any alternative healing approaches.