Many psychiatrists believe that severe mental health problems like schizophrenia must be treated with medication, but if you don't want to take antipsychotics, there are alternative treatments you can try. You may find it’s possible to manage your symptoms, or to make a full recovery, without medication. This page covers:
In conjunction with antipsychotics, I have found that distraction techniques are a great way of dealing with troubling thoughts and voices in my mind. Anything and everything that is a distraction is ever so helpful for me, from painting my nails to baking a cake, from watching a DVD to colouring.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – the organisation that produces best practice guidelines in health care – recommends that, for most conditions, you should be offered other kinds of treatments in addition to medication, such as a talking treatment. For more information see our pages on:
For information about which types of talking therapy are recommended for specific conditions, you can look up our information on different diagnoses in our A-Z of mental health.
You might find this kind of treatment a helpful way of dealing with your symptoms – especially if you find it difficult to talk about them. You may be able to express your feelings very effectively through painting, clay work, music or using metaphor in stories or drama therapy.
See our pages on arts therapies for more information.
Ecotherapy is the name given to a wide range of treatment programmes which aim to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through doing outdoor activities in nature.
See our pages on ecotherapy for more information.
Complementary and alternative therapy
Some people also find other complementary therapies helpful in managing symptoms, such as aromatherapy, reflexology or ear acupuncture. Complementary therapies may also help manage some of the side effects of medication, if you decide to continue with it.
See our pages on complementary and alternative therapy for more information.
I enjoy prayer and meditation as well as working at my local Food Bank. I also enjoy doing creative writing.
Peer support groups
Making connections with people who can relate to what you're going through can be really helpful.
There may also be peer support or other groups in your area. Call Mind Infoline or contact your local Mind for information about what is local to you.
[What helps me is] running, healthy diet and Pilates. I also have friends and a support group that I trust.
Healthy lifestyle changes
- Thinking about what you eat and drink – food and mood are related, so you might be able to manage your symptoms to some extent by making changes in your diet. See our pages on food and mood for more information.
- Exercise – many people find regular exercise helps to lift their mood, boost their energy levels and keep them grounded in reality. See our pages on physical activity, sport and mental health for more information.
- Get good sleep – sleep quality is very important for your mental health. See our pages on coping with sleep problems for more information.
This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2019.