In today’s world, mental illness is no longer considered a life sentence. Advancements in psychiatry and psychotherapy enabled physicians to recommend less invasive treatments for mental illnesses. Regrettably, some of the methods employed to alleviate symptoms or to ‘excise’ the underlying cause, have produced treatments that could easily exceed one’s budget.
In this article, we are going to discuss some of the most efficient means of dealing with mental illness if you’re on a short budget.
1. Expressive therapies – Art therapy
Art-based therapies, such as drawing, sculpting, painting, or drawing are good alternatives to the more invasive and expensive psychotherapy sessions. Expressing yourself through art will help you deal with your inner conflicts. By giving those suppressed memories or bottled emotions a ‘face,’ it will be easier for you to understand and integrate them.
For college students on a budget, writing therapy is the best choice since everything you’ll need is a computer. You can also go ‘old-school’ and use a pen and paper.
If you have trouble finding something to write about, try this simple writing exercise: imagine that you’re a scriptwriter in the making and that you’ve been ordered to submit two drafts. One draft should be about a pleasant memory, while the other one should be about something that you might have found unsettling, repulsive, or sad. Don’t make them too long – 1,000 words per draft should be enough.
2. Animal-assisted therapies
Have you ever thought about adopting a pet? If the answer is no, you should because, according to a study, human-pet interactions can improve mood, focus, and social skills. Furthermore, scientists have found that cat owners are far less prone to heart conditions than other types of pet owners.
In addition, the cat’s purr has been often linked to mental healing capabilities – the frequency of a feline’s purr can help you reach an emotional balance while alleviating some of the symptoms associated with chronic mental illnesses.
Meditation, especially mindfulness-based therapies, has shown exceptional results in patients with anxiety disorders and ADHD. Breathing techniques derived from yoga exercises can also improve your focus and promote emotional stability. Most psychiatrists agree that patients would be inclined to choose meditation over medication since it’s a cheaper and relatively side-effect-free alternative.
For instance, transcendental meditation – a technique that promotes self detachment and harmony – has helped patients with stress, anxiety, and schizophrenia, to some degree. Furthermore, meditation has also shown remarkable results as a complementary PTSD therapy.
4. Diet tweaks
For long, medical researchers have suspected a correlation between diet and mental illness. Throughout the last decades, this link has become more and more obvious. Thus, doctors have discovered that diets rich in sugary, fried, and highly processed foods could increase the risk of developing a severe mental illness like depression by 60 percent.
On the other hand, patients with well-balanced diets that include vegetables, nuts, fish, olive oil, and fruits have just a 35 percent chance of developing depression. Moreover, MRI-based studies have revealed that the above mentioned food groups could improve hippocampal activity, a brain area associated with navigation and short- and long-term memory.
The best part is that well-balanced and nutrient-rich diets don’t have to be expensive. You can usually buy the ingredients needed to whip up a nutritious meal from your local farmer’s market at the same price of highly processed or frozen food.
5. Laughter therapy
It has been said that laughter is the best doctor. Apparently, it’s not only a saying but a scientifically proven fact. Researchers have discovered that a jest or a joke landed at an opportune moment can ‘wash away’ anger, anxiety, and even depression. What’s more, humor can shift your perspective on a problem, making the solution much more obvious. Humor can also help you let go of resentment, erase doubts, and express how you truly feel about something.
Having to deal with mental illness doesn’t have to be a money-consuming effort. As you can see, there are many alternative therapies that have proved to be just as effective, if not more, as psychotherapy. But before trying one or more of these techniques, don’t forget to consult with a medical specialist.
About the Author: Alex Moore is a psychology undergraduate and blogger who advocates for mental health awareness in general and a better understanding of schizophrenia in particular. You’ll typically find him contributing to Schizlife.