Complementary, alternative and integrative approaches to mental health care

This special report contains brief reviews of selected CAM approaches and what they can do for patients with a variety of mental health issues.

Psychiatry, as it is traditionally practiced, is influenced by increased openness to non-Western healing traditions in the context of accumulating research evidence for selection Complementary and alternative medicine CAM modalities and the growing demands for more personalized care.

Individuals seeking psychiatric care for depressed mood, anxiety, and other increasingly common mental health issues are concurrently seeking CAM options through Chinese medical practitioners, naturopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors, homeopaths, and therapists. powered, etc.1 At the same time, increasing numbers of physicians are being trained in CAM curricula and integrating CAM into their medical practice.2

Collectively, these trends have led to the rapid growth of integrative mental health care, a collaborative model of care that incorporates both psychiatric and CAM modalities and focuses on the whole person; A goal with dual goals of improving well-being and treating specific mental health problems.

this is psychological times™ A special report containing brief reviews of selected CAM methods. In addition, the CME article in this issue reviews CAM interventions for mental health problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This CME article reviews and discusses progress in CME interventions to enhance CME Flexibility and well-being during extended periods of social isolation during lockdowns, and to treat depressed mood, anxiety and other mental health problems associated with the pandemic.

For example, data from studies of neurobiological mechanisms of mind-body medicine support the idea that mind-body practices (eg, tai chi, qigong, yoga, and meditation) promote general well-being and relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Mood, and other common mental health problems These beneficial effects are mediated by neurophysiological mechanisms. As you will read, more research is needed to determine the most effective interventions for specific disorders and to identify the physiological and neurological processes that mediate the beneficial effects.

Use herbs This is another common practice noted in this special report. Widely used herbs typically contain biologically active ingredients that mediate complex effects involving multiple neurotransmitter systems; Regulate gene expression and have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and endocrine effects. In contrast, psychotropic drugs are synthetic molecules designed to have discrete modulatory effects on specific neurotransmitter systems.

There is evidence that patients with PTSD and complex trauma also benefit from integrative medicine and nutrition. Dietary modification, nutraceuticals, hydrotherapy, exercise, body-focused therapies, sleep hygiene, and drugs are among the 17 components of integrative approaches to PTSD.

Although these pieces scratch the surface of CAM use in psychiatry, we hope they provide you with initial insights and inspiration.

Dr. Lake He is a board-certified adult psychiatrist with over 25 years of clinical experience. He is an Adjunct Fellow at the National Institute of Health Complementary Medicine Research, University of Western Sydney, Australia. He founded and chaired the American Psychiatric Association Conference on Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine from 2004 through 2010, and chaired symposia and workshops at American Psychiatric Association conferences and other national and international conferences on complementary, alternative, and integrative mental health care.

Dr. Lake is the author or editor of 5 textbooks on alternative and integrative mental health care and a 10-volume series of self-help books on alternative and integrative therapies for depressed mood, anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and other mental health problems.


1. Barnes PM, Bloom B, Nahin RL. Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults and children: United States, 2007. National Health Statistics Report. 2008; (12): 1-23.

2. Posadzky F, Al-Otaibi A, Ernst E. Prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use by clinicians in the United Kingdom: a systematic review of surveys. Clean Med (Lund). 2012; 12 (6): 505-512.

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