Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Make sure you understand the risks as well as possible benefits if you pursue alternative or complementary therapy. Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate herbal supplements, so you can't always be sure of what you're getting or know whether it's safe. Also, some herbal supplements can interfere with certain prescription medications or cause dangerous interactions.

For example, St. John's wort has been used for depression, although in the United States it's not approved by the FDA to treat depression. It may help mild or moderate depression, such as dysthymia, but the overall evidence is not conclusive. However, it should be used with caution — St. John's wort can interfere with many medications, such as antidepressants, birth control pills, blood thinners, chemotherapy drugs, HIV/AIDS medications, and drugs to prevent organ rejection after a transplant.

Talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplement.

Mind-body connections

Complementary and alternative medicine practitioners believe the mind and body must be in harmony for you to stay healthy. Examples of mind-body techniques that may be helpful for dysthymia include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga or tai chi
  • Meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Massage therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Music or art therapy
  • Spirituality

Relying solely on these therapies is generally not enough to treat dysthymia. However, they may be helpful when used in addition to medication and psychotherapy.

Dec. 20, 2012