A growing number of individuals are using or considering alternatives to standard psychopharmacology. Although randomized controlled trials are often limited, St John’s Wort, omega-3 fatty acids, yoga, exercise, sleep deprivation, and S-adenosylmethionine have all been shown to help with symptom relief of major depression. Folate, acupuncture, light therapy, and mindfulness have also shown potential for mood improvement.13
Many patients and providers like the idea of a quick fix in the form of a medication. Although medication can be a much needed help, it is not the only thing available or required. According to Ingebord Van Pelt in Unhinged, “Tranquilizers and psychotropic drugs serve as a life jacket — they keep you afloat, but they do not show you the way back to shore.”14
Connecting your patients with psychological support in the community is one of the best ways you can assist them beyond writing a prescription. Learning the specialties of therapists in your area can allow you to make specific recommendations, though this can be quite challenging. Insurance panels further complicate things, but at least having some resources on hand can be beneficial.
Connecting with the local hospitals (both medical and psychiatric) as well as their social services department can be a good first step. Referring patients to general sites is also an option (Table 3). An even bigger step is to consider integrated care with having a behavioral health specialist in the office to help with not just pure mental health concerns, but even day-to-day things such as palliative care, weight management, and medication compliance.
Mental health colleagues
- LPC — Licensed Professional Counselor
- NCSC — National Certified School Counselor
- LMFT—Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- RPT — Registered Play Therapist
- CAC — Certified Addictions Counselor
- CADC — Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor
- LCSW — Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- PsyD — Clinical Psychologist
- P/MH CRNP — Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner