One of the largest psychological and emotional barriers preventing people from seeking mental health services is the fear of being labelled as mentally ill.
Although the negative social stigma surrounding mental health is what creates this fear, it is also frequently tied to the prevalent use of psychiatric medications to mediate mental illness or distress. The schematized perception of an interaction in a counselor or therapist’s office often follows the following progression: a despondent patient sits on a stiff couch and spills the depths of their deepest emotional struggles, only to be labeled by some condition and written a numbing prescription.
The growth of the pharmaceutical industry has led to many developments in psychopharmacology. Today, there are infinite offerings of stimulants, non-stimulants, drug derivatives, antidepressants and moods stabilizers that can be prescribed to treat depression, anxiety or post traumatic stress. However, even if these medications are effective in masking the symptoms of a mental illness, they do not treat it at its root. Moreover, they come at the high cost of serious adverse side effects, ranging from headaches to delirium. A person using these kinds of medications may report feeling sedated, controlled or restricted from acting as their authentic self.
In many cases, the use of drug therapy to treat mental illness may be the best option. The response is relatively immediate, allowing for quick relief to painful or harmful conditions. If the side effects are tolerable, the drug is helpful and the cost is affordable, there is no real reason to abstain from use. However, for many individuals, especially those suffering from minor cases of depression or anxiety, medication is a scary and drastic solution.
The fear of being put on a drug which may alter brain and body chemistry prevents many individuals from visiting a mental health professional. However, not all therapy sessions end in a visit to the pharmacy. There are a litany of natural, alternative mental health therapies which can effectively combat depression, anxiety and stress without the swallowing of a single pill. In fact, these therapies are beneficial for maintaining and preserving mental health before an illness can manifest itself. In other words, these therapies aren’t just for someone with an unhealthy mind, but for anyone with a mind at all.
Many of the popular alternative therapies for depression and anxiety are based on creative expression. Music therapy is used to lower stress and increase pain thresholds. The human brain is incredibly responsive to music, showing strong activity in the areas linked to decision making and executive function. Listening to music, whether it be “Moonlight Sonata” or “Formation,” is able to aid in the processing and regulation of complex emotions.
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