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Explains what antipsychotics are used for, how the medication works, possible side effects and information about withdrawal.

What are the alternatives to antipsychotics?

If you don't want to take antipsychotics, there are several alternative treatments you can try. You may find it’s possible to manage your symptoms, or to make a full recovery, without medication.

If you are taking antipsychotics, you may also want to use other options to support your mental health, as well as your medication.

This page has information on some of the common alternatives to antipsychotics. You may find these helpful to use instead of your medication, or alongside it:

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.

Talking therapies

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that, for many mental health problems, you should be offered other kinds of treatments alongside or instead of medication.

This often includes being offered a type of talking therapy or counselling, such as:

See our A-Z of mental health for information about different mental health problems, including what types of treatment are recommended for each. 

Arts and creative therapies

Arts and creative therapies help you express your feelings through things like painting, clay work, music or drama therapy. They can help you deal with your symptoms, especially if you find it difficult to talk about how you’re feeling.


Ecotherapy is a type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature. This may include working on a conservation project or gardening. Or you may walk or cycle through woodland or other areas of nature.

Complementary and alternative therapies

Some people find that complementary and alternative therapies help to manage their symptoms. For example, this may be aromatherapy, reflexology or acupuncture. Complementary therapies may also help manage some of the side effects of medication, if you decide to continue with it.

Some herbal remedies can interact with antipsychotics and other types of medication. If you are thinking about taking a herbal remedy alongside any medication, speak to your doctor, psychiatrist or pharmacist about whether this is safe.

I enjoy prayer and meditation as well as working at my local Food Bank. I also enjoy doing creative writing.

Peer support

Peer support allows you to communicate with people who have similar experiences to yours. If you’d like to try peer support, you could:

[What helps me is] running, healthy diet and Pilates. I also have friends and a support group that I trust.

Look after your physical health

  • Think about what you eat and drink. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet may help to manage some of your symptoms. Drinking plenty of water can also help your mental wellbeing. See our pages on food and mood for more information. If you have a difficult relationship with food and eating, our pages on eating problems may help.
  • Try to be more active. Many people find regular physical activity helps to lift their mood, boost their energy levels and keep them grounded in reality. See our pages on physical activity and your mental health for more information.
  • Try to get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep can sometimes feel difficult. But having a good amount of quality sleep is very helpful for your mental health. See our pages on sleep problems for more information.

This information was published in September 2020.

This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published. 

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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