alternative approaches to dealing with mental health

at our vancouver bloggers’ meetup last time, pete quily of adult ADD strengths asked me an interesting question: “what are the topics that would naturally come up in the course of your work that you’re not discussing much on your blog?”

it’s a question i’ve been thinking about ever since, and i’ve been working on all kinds of ideas.

one has recently crossed my path, via helpguide. something i haven’t talked about much are alternative and complementary approaches to mental health. helpguide has a comprehensive list of them. here is an excerpt:

medical approaches

  • ayurveda (“science of life” traditional medicine from india) is the oldest medical system. the focus on energy and balance rather than symptoms seeks to restore wholeness in the mind-body-spirit system.
  • traditional chinese medicine (TCM), in use for more than 4,000 years, is based on the flow of vital energy (qi or chi, pronounced “chee”) throughout the body.
  • native american (or, as we would call it here in canada, first nations) healing is thousands of years old and combines religion, spirituality, herbal medicine, and rituals to treat medical and emotional problems, including trauma and addictions.
  • homeopathic medicine (“like cures like”) was developed in the early 20th century. it does not treat a “disease” or disorder by name (such as depression) but rather by specific symptoms (including things that affect symptoms, such as sounds, smells, tastes, moods, energy, time of day or temperature when symptoms are worse, etc.).
  • naturopathic medicine sees physical and mental health as arising from a healing power in the body that establishes, maintains, and restores health. nutritional or other “balancing” approaches

nutritional approaches

  • vitamins and supplements: many people may suffer from both physical and mental conditions that arise from inadequate nutrition. nutritional deficiencies often first appear in the form of mental symptoms.
  • allergies: there are many theories that allergies to such foods as wheat, sugar, and milk cause or exacerbate symptoms in schizophrenia, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities, ADHD, and other conditions.
  • dietetic changes: many people find that adjustments in their diet may affect their mental and emotional health. for example, blood sugar levels have a strong impact on mood and emotional energy, and can be managed by eating small amounts every few hours, particularly of protein-rich foods, in a well-balanced overall diet.

energy therapies

  • qi gong (pronounced “chee kung”) is an ancient chinese system using movement, meditation, relaxation, mind-body integration, and breathing exercises.
  • reiki (pronounced “ray-kee”) is a japanese system of transferring energy from the practitioner to heal the patient’s spirit, which leads to physical health.
  • therapeutic touch is a form of “laying on of hands,” which may also involve the healer passing hands over the body without actually touching it, to detect energy imbalances and re-direct them through the energy of the therapist.

(this post appeared in the meditation, yoga and spiritual growth carnival)

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