111 Things to Try Before Going On Psychiatric Drugs

Alternatives to psychiatric meds! This is the number one thing I get asked for when I tell people that I consult with those who have been harmed by psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. What are the alternatives to psychiatric meds?

A lot of people say psychiatric drugs are a last resort, or that everything else should be tried first. They don’t even mention alternatives to psychiatric meds though! Even many doctors claim psychiatric drugs should only be a last resort if all other options have been exhausted.

Really?  Are people trying everything or even close to all of the alternatives to psychiatric meds?  Some of these options might be prohibitive due to cost, beliefs, interest or access, and that’s why I’m sharing a long list. Please google any terms on this list you aren’t familiar with and be sure to do enough research to give yourself the best shot at succeeding at these methods. Most require ongoing regular practice.

Some are self explanatory, others require instruction or even medical advice. Some of these alternatives to psychiatric meds won’t work for you, but keep scrolling and a few will. If you’re considering going on psych drugs (or planning to come off, or in the withdrawal process) here are some things that can help:

1. Acupuncture (community treatments are often $15-30, some areas have free group acupuncture).

2. Journaling. Writing my thoughts down every day has no doubt kept me out of the mental health system entirely for many years.

3. Art.  Whatever kind you are drawn to can reframe your experiences so it no longer makes sense to see them as a mental illness.

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4. Less refined sugar. Nutritional alternatives to psychiatric meds could be tried before taking “mood stabilizers” such as Lithium or Lamictal.

5. More protein, vegetables and healthy fats

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6. Massage from a friend/Self massage with oils

7. Professional massage

8. Magnesium- Some supplements can be great alternatives to psychiatric meds for anxiety and sleep!

9. Run/walk/hike most days- wonderful alternatives to psychiatric meds such as SSRIs and SNRIs that would be good to try.

10. Yoga/gentle stretching

11. Meditation-Quiet time, breathing, yoga and meditation are important alternatives to psychiatric meds for many people, myself included.

12. Prayer

13. More time in nature

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14. Eating wild foods

15. Methyl folate-especially for people who have the MTHFR gene, methylated B vitamins are important alternatives to psychiatric meds to try first. They can help with anxiety and stress.

16. Methyl B12

17. Herbal teas- these are great alternatives to psychiatric meds and work best when loose leaf whole dried herbs are used.

18. Vitamin C

19. High quality food-based multi vitamin

20. Cod liver oil- this and other essential fatty acids are important alternatives to psychiatric meds as they have been found to help with depression and anxiety as well as lowering inflammation in the body.

21. Flax seeds/chia seeds

22. Bone broth

23. Blogging

24. Peer counseling

25. Warm lines

26. Starting a business with your talents

Psychiatric survivor entrepreneurs

27. Probiotics

28. Go organic

29. Go to the beach/ lake/ river more. Many people in cities might forget to consider these important alternatives to psychiatric meds. Negative ions in natural flowing water change brain waves and make people happier and more relaxed.

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30. Plants

31. More hugs/cuddling

32. Music

33. Tracking the lunar cycles- these alternatives to psychiatric meds have been used to understand moods in relation to the fluids in the universe since before psychiatric drugs existed!

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34. Astrology

35. Tarot

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36. Get tested for all vitamin/mineral deficiencies- very important to try these alternatives to psychiatric meds before starting any.

37. Naturopathic advice- Many naturopaths can give you detailed information about a lot of the items on this list of alternatives to psychiatric meds.

38. Homeopathy

39. Flower essences

40. Crystals

41. Weight lifting

42. Sports

43. Date and/or join a women’s group/men’s group/gender queer group

44. Clean your closets

45. Hire/ask someone to help you do something you can’t do yourself

46. Peer support groups

47. Protests/activism- These alternatives to psychiatric meds that lets you use your emotions and integrate them into a greater purpose, while understanding more deeply where the issues come from. All emotions and states of mind are sociopolitical and none exist in a vacuum within an individual.

48. Helping others with your madness/genius- this is the best of all of the alternatives to psychiatric meds

49. Travel

50. Make more friends

51. Spend more time with your friends

52. Spend more time alone, in quiet

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53. Let yourself stay in bed all day sometimes and let it be okay

54. Find friends you can have a meltdown with

55. Let yourself have meltdowns when needed

56. Avoid psychiatrists and people who believe in the medical model when you’re in crisis

57. Martial arts

58. Express anger in a safe place

59. Write letters to family members that you don’t send

60. Find someone who will just listen without judging or giving advice

61. Sing

62. Dance

63. Stick up for yourself

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64. Avoid people who bring you down

65. Follow your inner guidance

66. Talk to yourself (vocal journaling)

67. Pray out loud

68. Vitamin D

69. Avoid too much caffeine

70. Limit other addictions

71. Sex/masturbation

72. Bare feet on the earth

73. Garden

74. Find rock bottom faith in your life

75. Examine your beliefs either on paper or aloud, alone or with a friend

76. Join meetups/other groups

77. Play games

78. Theater-act out different parts of you safely

79. Self-trust-never give full authority away

80. Speak publicly about something that can help others

81. Make You Tube videos to reach out to others

82. Find more support people online via Facebook groups and other forums

83. Make online friends into phone friends and in person friends when possible

84. Connect with animals

85. Get more fresh air

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86. Move somewhere with weather and culture that suits you

87. Do a fundraising campaign on Go Fund Me/Indiegogo/Kickstarter to raise money for a project, or just for your expenses/goals

88. Reach out more and ask for help directly (from people who won’t label you)

89. Start a support group if you can’t find the right one in your area

90. Listen to your voices; what is their message?

91. Reconnect with old friends

92. Find friends who understand difficult times

93. Allow all feelings and mental states to exist

94. Be patient when possible

95. Accept uncertainty

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96. Talk to your loved ones who have passed on and see if they have a message for you

97. Go to a psychic

98. Lie on the Earth and ask it to hold your problems for you for awhile

99. Stay hydrated

100. Take Epsom Salt/baking soda baths regularly

101. Use Coconut Oil on your body; it helps detox metals

102. Exfoliate your skin

103. Floss regularly-it prevents blood stagnation

104. Unplug when you need to

105. Let yourself rest/sleep more

106. Oil pull

107. Make a list of things you can offer and things you need.  See where you can barter.

108. Slow down

109. Spend an hour a day expressing your creativity

110. Let yourself go crazy sometimes and know it is part of the human condition

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111. EFT/tapping

I have actually tried all of the alternatives to psychiatric meds on this list; these aren’t random ideas I have heard of. Every single thing on this list is something that has kept me off psychiatric drugs! No joke. Though I thought it would be hard to write such a long list, now I think there are many more things to add too. Please add your own ideas in the comments below and please share widely so we can start to shift the idea that people have already “tried everything”.

Do you want more in depth discussion of some alternatives? Click here to receive a free EBook with more info, personal examples and inspiration.

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33 thoughts on “111 Things to Try Before Going On Psychiatric Drugs

  1. Dede Moore says:

    As an EFT practitioner I’m so excited that was in your list 🙂 I would add: cry, walk barefoot on earth, plant a garden, take one day at a time, accept your feelings, talk to yourself like you would a loved one, keep (and tap) a gratitude journal, aroma therapy, color therapy, affirmations, meditation, visualization, forgive yourself and everyone else, help other people…

    • Chaya says:

      Great ideas Dede. I added some of them to my second draft of this blog which now has 120 items. A few of these are actually on the list already 🙂

  2. Great list! Also check for histamine intolerance or iron deficiency – both can be extremly similar to depression/anxiety.
    I’m writing a similar blog, but i’ts for german-speaking people.

  3. hannah says:

    Abhyanga. I know self massage is on the list but abhyanga is a little different. It is the number one thing that helped me find balance

  4. I loved this article. Simple & practical. I would not try every idea you, but you make some really good points! I’m going to take my next $180 that could’ve gone to my therapist & invest the cash differently!

    smswaby.wordpress.com

    SMSwaby

  5. dianetics. I also received counseling when I was younger but not by someone who wanted to put me on drugs. I handled a lot on dianetics because its strategies were different than just talking about my problems with a counselor. I also recommend writing all your problems down in a list and then seeing what you can come up with for solutions or get guidance to find solutions BUT dont let others come up with the answers =) very important.

  6. miriam says:

    Light therapy (full spectrum)
    Celiac disease- check if you have it. It is an auto-immune disease linked with depression.
    Planning social activities- for many making oneself get out of the house every day really helps.
    Physical therapy if you have pain in joints or muscles.
    Meditation.
    Visual imagery.

  7. miriam says:

    You might want to consider whether it is wise to post about dianetics. This is from a cult that preys on people with mental health issues, and takes their money. There is no scientific evidence at all behind this, and it is not accepted in any mainstream group. Please remove that comment!

  8. Chaya says:

    Thanks for the input and for reading! I just added some of the suggestions and submitted a slightly longer list of 120 options to http://www.madinamerica.com
    I did notice a lot of the additional suggestions were on the list… I guess when a list is this long some things get lost .

  9. Corrine Taylor says:

    I read a lot of great books.
    I practice forgiveness.
    I practice “shame resilience,” coined by Brene Brown.
    I have been retraining my self not to use psychiatric labels to describe my very valid emotions and experiences. For example “my depression.” I work to find words to describe the feelings that I am having. I heard someone use “big feelings.” Breaking it down and taking control of the words I use allows me to use steps, which includes some of the things on this list, to be well and stay well.
    Thanks Chaya I am going to try some of your ideas.

  10. catherine case says:

    Activism/philanthropy — get outside of yourself. In particular, protection of the most vulnerable provides healing perspective.

  11. I strongly recommend self-acceptance or mindful self-compassion to address emotional concerns. Learning to reduce our shame intolerance and reactivity is key, as low self-worth and high levels of self-criticism or fear of criticism of others are the core problem with anxiety or depression. As a psychotherapist, I use these concepts with clients to great effect. And recommend many things on this list, too! Be kind to yourself!

  12. This is an awesome list! Contacting a crisis line. Samaritans is great because I don’t think they insist on emergency services. I volunteer for crisis textline 741741

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