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This outline has been developed by Mental Health America (MHA) from the principal available evidence-based sources of information concerning "complementary," "alternative," "integrative," "natural," and often self-administered treatments for mental health conditions.

Mental Health America acknowledges the generous assistance of David Mischoulon, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who has reviewed the manuscript, but who bears no responsibility for the information, which is derived mainly from published sources. We also thank David Shern, Ph.D., and Mary Evans, Ph.D., R.N., for editing, and MHA General Counsel Joseph de Raismes for his contributions. Syntheses and evaluations of the information by MHA are its responsibility alone. MHA also bears complete responsibility for its decisions to shorten and redraft descriptions of information from the sources. Only quoted text should be presumed to be verbatim.


MHA began with the limited information accepted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), at the National Institutes of Health and added the information contained in ten recent compilations of "complementary and alternative medicine" (hereinafter CAM) for mental health disorders: (1) Dr. Mischoulon's Natural Medications for Psychiatric Disorders: Considering the Alternatives, co-edited with Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, M.D. (also of Harvard Medical School) (2002/2008), (2) How to Use Herbs, Nutrients & Yoga in Mental Health Care, by Richard P. Brown, M.D. (of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons), Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D. (of New York Medical College), and Philip R. Muskin, M.D. (of Columbia as well) (2009) ("Brown et al.") , preceded in 2004 by Brown, R.P. and Gerbarg, P.L., The Rhodiola Revolution and supplemented in 2012 by Non-drug Treatments for ADHD, by Brown, R.P. and Gerbarg, P.L., and The Healing Power of the Breath, by Brown, R.P. and Gerbarg, P.L., and in 2013 by Muskin, Gerbarg and Brown's latest distillation, Complementary and Integrative Therapies for Psychiatric Disorders ("Brown et al. II") [For the purpose of counting, the foregoing five books are treated as a single source], (3) The seminal article, "Dietary Supplements and Natural Products as Psychotherapeutic Agents," by Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D. (of Georgetown Medical School) and Jerry M. Cott, Ph.D. (of the National Institutes of Health) (1999), (4) Complementary and Alternative Treatments in Mental Health Care, By James H. Lake, M.D. (clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford and visiting assistant professor of medicine at the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona School of Medicine) and David Spiegel, M.D., (5) relevant portions of the Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Guide (2010 edition), (6) relevant portions of Berkeley Wellness Reports - Dietary Supplements (2010 and 2011 editions, University of California), (7) relevant portions of Consumer Reports, "Dangerous Supplements," published by Consumers Union, September, 2010, at p. 16-20 (2010), (8) relevant portions of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Alternative Medicine 2011, published by Time Home Entertainment, Inc. (2010), (9) the compendium by Iovieno, N., Dalton, E. D., Fava, M. & Mischoulon, D., "Second-tier Natural Antidepressants: Review and Critique" (2011), and (10) Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona School of Medicine and bestselling CAM and integral health advocate Andrew Weil, M.D.'s relevant book, Spontaneous Happiness (2011). 

Although not treated as a source, except for the chapter on yoga and meditation, MHA has benefitted enormously by guidance from James S. Gordon, M.D., a psychiatrist who runs the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C., and the nuanced approach to recovery from mental health conditions that he advocates in Unstuck, which describes recovery as a spiritual path.

If we posit, like Socrates and the western philosophical tradition that he symbolizes, that "the unexamined life is not worth living," the quest for mental wellness and recovery from mental and emotional setbacks is fundamental to everyone's path in life. Any search for insight into one's life purpose, any quest for knowledge of the self, must treat mental adversity as an opportunity for growth and for enlightenment. That is the spiritual core of the recovery concept. And it is in that spirit that this outline is offered, for those on the quest.

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