Mood and anxiety disorders such as major depression, chronic depression and others are a major public health issue. They often go untreated despite available treatment options including FDA-approved medications.
In some cases, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) could provide viable treatment options for patients suffering from some of these common mental health problems. Many patients are likely to turn to CAM for these disorders – as a 2007 national survey found that nearly 40 percent of adults use these approaches.
In an effort to provide a clinical perspective on CAM approaches to the treatment of mood disorders, researchers from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine reviewed and critiqued data for an article in the journal Expert Reviews in Neurotherapeutics.
Daniel Monti, MD, medical and executive director of the Myrna Brind Center, Andrew Newberg, MD, director of research, and Aleeze Moss, PhD, an instructor at the Mindfulness Institute, evaluated four categories of CAM treatments that ranged from acupuncture and natural products to mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, tai chi and more.
The Myrna Brind Center researchers found that evidence suggests yoga and mindfulness practices can help with anxiety and depression, although the evidence is still “inconclusive.”
And while many natural products have little data supporting their use for these disorders, a few including TRP and 5-HTP, amino acid precursors of serotonin and the botanical Rhodiola rosea hold promise.
“While questions remain regarding the methodological rigor of studies of CAM treatments for depression, the popularity of such interventions within the general Western population continues to grow,” Drs. Moss, Newberg and Monti wrote. “Preliminary positive evidence of particular CAM remedies highlighted in this article suggests the need for further methodologically rigorous studies of CAM treatments.”