02 Sep Exploring Holistic Treatments for Mental Health Issues
Depression and Addiction: The Harsh Reality
While addiction is considered a major problem in the United States, with drug-related deaths rapidly rising, substance abuse isn’t the only mental issue facing this country. U.S. News reported that the United States is one of the most depressed countries in the world, and those struggling with depression often exhibit many of the same problems as those battling substance addiction. After all, these are problems that don’t discriminate as they affect people of all races, creeds, ages, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds.
While depression and addiction don’t discriminate however, treatment and recovery certainly do. For instance, Americans earning less than $20,000 a year are nearly one-third less likely to end a cocaine addiction compared with those making $70,000 or more. As for those suffering from depression, Science.org has shown there’s a link between poverty and depression. Simply put, disenfranchised people have the odds stacked against them when it comes to recovering from mental health problems. Financial drains that nearly always occur when someone is suffering from addiction only add to the stress they are dealing with. If they’ve lost their job or need a sabbatical to rehabilitate, working a “side gig” can be the perfect solution. Working from home offers the flexibility and low stress environment that is essential for staying on track with therapy. It also goes a long way to restoring lost self-esteem and building confidence.
Whether you’re struggling against depression, anxiety, or addiction, going above and beyond traditional therapy and medication greatly improves your chances of success. Holistic approaches integrate physical, mental and spiritual treatments to help you on your way. Other terms you may hear for holistic techniques include “alternative” or “complementary” as they are used in conjunction with behavioral therapies. While holistic therapies can help supplement other treatments, they should always be done under medical supervision. Consult your doctor about any alternative addiction treatments you wish to try.
Holistic treatments are developed around the idea that addiction has various contributing factors.
- Biological, neurological, and genetic contributions
- Emotional imbalance
- Lack of spiritual grounding
- Hormonal and neurochemical imbalances
- Environmental impacts
Each one of the following therapies helps to address these contributing factors. Note that no single treatment is the right fit for everyone. Most people need multiple treatments to support full recovery. Trying out various therapies at first is a great way to help find a plan that works best for you and your needs.
Floatation therapy is a natural way to heal the body and mind. It provides an escape from daily pressure and rigamarole, and is similar in concept to the mineral salt baths in Israel’s Dead Sea. Eight hundred pounds of Epsom salt are dissolved into the spa tub in skin temperature water to create the same effect at Synergy Float Center in Alexandria, VA. Sink into peaceful sensory serenity, free of sound, light, gravity, and other distractions. It’s a natural way to bring your body back into balance.
Electroencephalographic (EEG) biofeedback or neurofeedback therapy is used to repair structural damage in the brain caused by substance abuse and addiction, says Psychology Today. The EEG operator assesses the brain’s function and any specific pathways that are dysregulated or over/under activated. Once the assessment is made, the therapist uses various methods and equipment to retrain the brain and suppress impulses.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, was originally developed for addiction–it is so effective and popular, however, therapists now use it for a variety of psychological issues. CBT teaches patients that their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are intrinsically connected. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, people become more aware of their emotions and thoughts, so they have more control over addictive behaviors.
Finding spiritual grounding is deeply personal. For most people, it involves attending religious services and practicing their faith. However, for those who do not identify with a religion, finding spirituality can be difficult. Joining a yoga community helps non-religious people get in touch with their spiritual side and recognize their own divine light. Furthermore, the community that comes with yoga promotes healthy lifestyle choices while preventing isolation.
Nutrition and Exercise
Depression can be as hard on the body as addiction. Luckily, the human body is remarkably good at repairing itself through diet and exercise. These healthy choices rebalance hormones and neurochemicals while helping to establish a daily routine to keep you on track for recovery. Simple changes, like keeping healthy snacks handy and drinking ample water are keys to good health, and easy to make a part of your routine.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness through meditation is another great tool at your disposal. Basically, mindfulness allows us to shift our thoughts to the point of view of an observer so that we can accept where we are in the moment instead of seeking to “fix” it. It also builds tolerance for discomfort and quiets racing thoughts that can fuel depression, anxiety, and addiction.
These are complex issues that impact millions of people, so if you’re struggling, remember that you aren’t alone. To help improve your chances of recovery, consider supplementing traditional approaches like medication and counseling with alternative treatments like neurofeedback therapy, CBT, yoga, nutritional therapy, exercise, and mindful meditation.