In the midst of a fast-paced life riddled with anxiety, depression, and stress, people are yearning for more, for something that goes beyond mere symptom management. This is where holistic therapy enters the stage. It’s a narrative of empowerment, a shift toward a holistic view of health, and a quest for natural healing.
Whether you’re curious about holistic therapies or seeking additional support for your mental health journey, this article offers valuable insights into holistic therapies for anxiety and depression. We explore evidence-based practices, practical tips for incorporating complementary and alternative treatments into your life, and potential benefits and risks.
How Is Holistic Therapy Different From Other Forms of Treatment?
While conventional care focuses on the medical treatment of the physical symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders, holistic therapies address a person’s mental, emotional, social, and even spiritual aspects.
Holistic therapies offer a more comprehensive approach to treating mental health problems beyond symptom suppression. The numbers show the popularity of a more natural path to healing, as a record 36% of adult Americans use holistic therapies in some form to manage depression and anxiety disorders.
The Mind-Body Connection in Alleviating Anxiety and Depression
Our mind-body connection is vital in relieving anxiety and addressing depressive disorders and other mental health conditions. The mind-body connection acknowledges the deeply intertwined relationship between our physical, mental, and emotional states.
Holistic approaches leverage this connection to foster well-being. Complementary and alternative therapies recognize that we cannot heal using isolated practices. They work to create harmony between the mind and body, allowing individuals to regain control over their emotional well-being.
Exploring Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Anxiety and Depression
Holistic therapies for treating depression and anxiety utilize a comprehensive and integrative framework with three main approaches. These are mind-centered, body-centered, and spirit-centered approaches.
Mind-centered holistic approaches focus on healing the mental and emotional aspects of an individual. These forms of holistic therapies recognize the power of our minds in shaping our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and how these, in turn, affect our mental health.
These approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), positive psychology, and holistic psychotherapy.
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Body-centered approaches focus on the individual’s physical health to promote overall well-being. This approach acknowledges the role played by physical health in alleviating anxiety and depression.
Practices used in body-mind approaches include massage therapy, acupuncture, and somatic experiencing.
A spirit-centered approach in holistic therapies recognizes that spirituality, which may encompass a sense of purpose, inner peace, and connection to something greater than oneself, plays a vital role in mental and emotional health.
Spirit-centered approaches include meditation, deep breathing, and energy healing. For people with anxiety and depression, these practices can serve as sanctuaries for tranquility and relief from incessant negative thoughts and emotions.
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Trauma-informed yoga addresses nervous system dysregulation. Simply put, dysregulation makes you feel emotional, moody, and low after a stressful event. Classes guide you back into a place of regulation or feeling better in your mind-body system. Mindfulness exercises are threaded through the lessons to enhance self-regulation. Instead of carving out the time, money, and energy to find a yoga studio, practice yoga at home on your own — at any time.
Benefits of Holistic Therapy for Improved Mental Health
A holistic approach to relieve anxiety and depressive symptoms offers many benefits, including:
Holistic approaches offer other ways to treat mental health problems, such as complementary and alternative medicine. These approaches target underlying conditions, which provide lasting symptom reduction.
They also offer individuals greater control over their emotions and well-being by reducing the severity and frequency of episodes of anxiety or depression.
Holistic practices like breathing exercises and meditation promote a healthy observation of emotions without judgment. These practices promote a more beneficial response to challenging situations, greatly enhancing emotional regulation.
Holistic therapies offer coping strategies that stretch far beyond traditional medicine. Individuals can turn to exercises such as breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation to relieve anxiety. These easy-to-implement coping mechanisms can lead to a heightened sense of resilience and adaptability and make it easier to navigate challenges such as major depressive disorder and trouble sleeping.
Complementary and alternative therapies address the connection between physical health and our mental and spiritual health to promote overall well-being. As individuals engage and heal in these crucial areas, they may start experiencing certain benefits, including:
- Increased energy levels
- A more positive outlook on life
- Greater vitality
Incorporating Holistic Therapies for Anxiety Into Daily Life
Randomized controlled trials have shown that complementary and alternative therapies can naturally complement selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
You can gain these benefits through regular practices such as:
Mindfulness and Meditation
Simple mindfulness meditation sessions can help calm the mind and relieve symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Set aside a few minutes daily and follow guided meditations or practice mindful breathing exercises. By cultivating awareness of the present moment, you can relieve anxiety symptoms.
Journaling offers a safe and structured way for emotional release and a deeper understanding of oneself. Regular journaling helps you identify patterns in negative thinking, reactive behavior, and triggers. By identifying these patterns, you are better equipped to manage symptoms of severe depression and reduce anxiety. For example, you can quickly identify panic attack triggers and practice relaxation techniques to calm anxiety.
Yoga to Calm Anxiety Disorders
Yoga promotes physical flexibility by releasing muscle tension and facilitates relaxation and emotional balance. Incorporating a yoga session into your routine, especially if you are elderly, can significantly benefit your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Choosing the Right Holistic Approach for You
Selecting suitable complementary therapies is a personal journey, as we all have unique needs and preferences. Additionally, what may work for one person may affect another person differently.
To get started, the Anxiety and Depression Association recommends talking to your mental health provider or a licensed holistic health provider. A professional can offer recommendations based on your specific needs and requirements.
Take the time to explore different holistic approaches on your own. Try out some practices like meditation and massage therapy, which relieve tension and regulate blood pressure. Remember that healing is a journey; trust your gut to help you choose the approach you feel most aligned with.
Resources for Holistic Therapy in Treating Anxiety and Depression
It’s never too late to explore holistic therapies for anxiety, depression, and any other type of mental illness. Here are some wonderful resources to get you started.
- “The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook” by Edmund J. Bourne offers practical techniques for managing anxiety.
- “The Mindful Way Through Depression” by Mark Williams and John Teasdale explores mindfulness-based approaches to dealing with depression.
- Reach out to the Tarrant County Crisis Hotline at 1-800-866-2465 for immediate support and assistance during times of crisis.
- Visit Recognize & Rise’s hotline page for a helpful compilation of valuable resources on mental health.