What Are the Pros and Cons of Holistic Therapy for Depression?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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The pros and cons of holistic therapy for depression relate mainly to effectiveness and safety. On the positive side, holistic therapy for depression tends to be self-directed, economical and does not require strong prescription medications. Holistic depression treatment also tends to focus on balancing the relationship between mind and body. On the negative side, holistic therapies are not always supported by medical doctors, and questions sometimes arise about the scientific effectiveness of holistic treatments.

Advocates of holistic therapies say a person's thoughts and moods can lead to or prevent depression. Negative thoughts, stress and uncertainty are believed to cause disease. This sometimes is emphasized as "dis-ease" as a way to illustrate the connection between mind and body. Holistic therapy encourages relaxation and positive thoughts as a way to help bring the mind and body into balance. Without entirely negating the benefits of a good attitude, proponents of traditional depression treatments maintain that positive thinking alone may not be enough to treat serious cases of depression.


Counseling or psychotherapy can be a part of holistic therapy for depression, focusing on developing coping skills rather than using prescription medications. Holistic therapy advocates consider this a positive, because prescription medicines can be costly and may have serious side effects. Holistic therapy for depression also can include the use of massage, meditation and yoga — efforts designed to relax the body and focus the mind on positive thoughts. These treatments also avoid the use of medications, and other benefits can result from the effects such therapies can have on the body’s overall health.

Herbal remedies often are a part of holistic depression treatments. A positive aspect of herbal treatments is that they often are more economical that prescription medicines. Herbal treatments also have a long-standing history of being used to treat depression and other illnesses. Like any medication, they work for some people and not for others, though, and herbs also can have side effects or cause allergic reactions, just as prescription medications can.

Some traditional doctors, including mental health professionals, have concerns about the safety and effectiveness of holistic therapy for depression and point to a lack of concrete evidence proving it works. Supporters of holistic treatments counter that pharmaceutical companies tend to fund research into their medications' effectiveness, rather than looking at alternative therapies, because their primary interest is their drugs’ effectiveness and safety. They believe a lack of evidence supporting the benefits of holistic therapy for depression is more a matter of failing to look for proof than failing to find proof.


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Post 3

I once read that a person who walks 20 minutes a day could not be depressed. I think this is an exaggeration. People are depressed for many reasons (physical, emotional and mental) so walking is not going to make everyone better. Still, I do believe that regular exercise can do a lot to limit the effects of negative thoughts. A good workout relaxes me and calms my mind and body.

When I was growing up, I used sports to escape from my problems. Relatively speaking, I didn't have a great many problems, but playing sports was still a good way to clear my head and just live in the moment and relax. I continue to use sports in this way as an adult.

Post 2

I do not suffer from medical depression. Sure, I get down sometimes and I sometimes feel anxious about certain parts of my life, but I have not been diagnosed with depression, and I am not going to pretend to understand what people with depression go through. However, for me, I have found that meditation helps relax me when I am feeling anxious, and this practice stops me from dwelling on negative thoughts.

I would recommend meditation for anyone dealing with the average stresses of life. I think it can do wonders. In addition to their normal treatment, I would also recommend meditation for people with medically diagnosed depression.

Post 1

One of my cousins was just diagnosed with depression. Now that she has seen a doctor and been told what is happening with her, I wonder how we all missed this for so long. Everyone just thought she was "moody."

She may have to start taking medications to help with the condition, but I know this is something she would rather avoid. I have heard that alternative treatments work for some people. This means people with depression don't have to deal with all of the side effects of antidepressants, which I have heard can be pretty bad for some people.

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