Mental health problems are common. In the United States, they affect about one-fourth of adults in any given year and nearly half of adults at some time during their lives.
According to the World Health Organization, mental illnesses account for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses. Anxiety and mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, are the most common mental health problems.
Researchers are investigating complementary and integrative health approaches for a variety of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
- Some complementary health approaches, such as relaxation techniques and music, may help to relieve anxiety during stressful situations like medical procedures. Less is known about whether complementary health approaches can help to manage anxiety disorders.
- There is some evidence that acupuncture, music therapy, and yoga may help with depression. Results of some studies suggest that St. John’s wort may have an effect on mild to moderate major depressive disorder (MDD) for a limited number of patients, similar to standard antidepressants, but the evidence is far from definitive. St. John’s wort, however, can interact in dangerous, sometimes life-threatening ways with a variety of medicines. It’s uncertain whether omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is useful for depression. Current research does not support the use of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) or inositol for the treatment of depression.
- For SAD, a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, there is some evidence that light therapy may be useful as a preventive treatment for people with a history of SAD. Research shows that a type of cognitive behavioral therapy adapted for use with SAD patients helps to relieve symptoms, and its effects may continue into subsequent winters, even without additional sessions with a therapist. It’s unclear whether vitamin D supplementation can help to relieve SAD symptoms. Very little research has been done on dietary supplements other than vitamin D for SAD.
If you feel you may have a mental health problem, talk to a health care provider.