Complementary Medicine for Treating Anxiety and Depression

weight lossThe treatment of mental health issues is a growing concern. Part of this stems from an increased understanding of mental health that has become possible because of better and more efficient diagnosis, but part has stemmed from what appears to be a real increase in the number of people suffering from mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety. Amongst the general populations of the Western developed countries there are a large number of individuals that suffer from mild to moderate depression or mild to moderate anxiety, the latter often referred to as the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). These disorders are chronic and mildly debilitating, but often medical help is not sought by the sufferers in a similar way that many struggle with neck and back pain but never seek medical assistance. The cause of the increased cases of depression and anxiety in the population as a whole is not fully understood, but it might be due to a combination of poor diet and increased levels of stress.

anxiety depression

One complementary therapy that has been shown repeatedly to be effective for the treatment of mood disorders is nutrition. In fact nutrition should not really be considered a therapy as it is a core function of human existence. It should be no surprise to those that have studied nutrition, that high quality foods are protective of mental health and low quality foods greatly increase the risk of developing poor health including detrimental changes to mood.

Studies have investigated the use of complementary therapies by people suffering from mild to moderate depression and anxiety. In one study of over 2000 individuals, researchers identified 9.4 % of the individuals as suffering from “anxiety attacks” over the previous 12 months and 7.2 % of the individuals as suffering from “severe depression” over the same period. Of these respondent, 56.7 % of those suffering from anxiety and 53.6 % of those suffering from depression reported using complementary therapies as treatment during that period. However, of these individuals, only 20.0 % and 19.3 % of those suffering from anxiety or depression, respectively, visited a complementary therapist. However, 65.9 % and 66.7 % of those suffering from anxiety or depression, respectively, had been to see a conventional therapist but also been to see a complementary therapist. Interestingly of those individuals that had undertaken both conventional and complementary therapy, there was no perceived difference in the outcomes.

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Kessler, R. C., Soukup, J., Davis, R. B., Foster, D. F., Wilkey, S. A., Van Rompay, M. I. and Eisenberg, D. M. 2001. The use of complementary and alternative therapies to treat anxiety and depression in the United States. American Journal of Psychiatry. 158(2): 289-294

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
This entry was posted in Anxiety, Depression. Bookmark the permalink.