Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

In most cases, a mental illness won't get better if you try to treat it on your own without professional care. But you can do some things for yourself that will build on your treatment plan:

  • Stick to your treatment plan. Don't skip therapy sessions. Even if you're feeling better, don't skip your medications. If you stop, symptoms may come back. You could also have withdrawal-like symptoms if you stop a medication too suddenly. If you have bothersome medication side effects or other problems with your treatment, talk to your doctor before making changes.
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use. Using alcohol or illegal drugs can make it difficult to treat a mental illness. If you're addicted, quitting can be a real challenge. If you can't quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.
  • Stay active. Exercise can help you manage symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety. Physical activity can also counteract the effects of some psychiatric medications that may cause weight gain. Consider walking, jogging, swimming, gardening or taking up another form of physical activity that you enjoy. Even light physical activity can make a difference.
  • Don't make important decisions when your symptoms are severe. Avoid decision making when you're in the depth of mental illness symptoms, since you may not be thinking clearly.
  • Prioritize your life. You can reduce the impact of your mental illness by carefully managing your time and energy. Cut back on obligations when necessary, and set reasonable goals for yourself. Give yourself permission to do less when your symptoms are bad. You may find it helpful to make a list of daily tasks, use sticky notes as reminders, or use a planner to structure your time and stay organized.
  • Learn to adopt a positive attitude. Focusing on the positive things in your life can make your life better and may even improve your health. Try to accept changes when they occur, and keep problems in perspective.
Sep. 15, 2012