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by Dr Ursula
Last updated: January 2017
The use of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) for
mental health problems is well documented. In psychiatric patients,
estimates of the prevalence of CAM use range from 8% to 57%. Such
treatments are either used alternatively (instead of) or
complementarily (in addition) to conventional medicine.
Patients may choose a CAM approach for a
variety of reasons, and the range of CAMs is huge. However, the
evidence base for the effectiveness of CAMs remains limited, and
for many CAMs, effectiveness has not been demonstrated at
all. Some treatments may even put patients’ physical or mental
health at risk.
Discussing this with patients who may have put
high hopes into CAMs can be difficult, and physicians may
feel ill-equipped to deal with their patients´ queries. From a
medico-legal point of view, uncritical encouragement of the
potentially harmful use of CAMs is as undesirable as overcautious
The goal of this module is to acquaint
psychiatrists with the most common CAM medicines routinely
encountered in clinical practice and to enable them to deal
confidently with clinical queries in this area.
If you like this module, you may also be
Feeling better – Lifestyle management for chronic
mental disorders by Dr Ursula Werneke
Polypharmacy: causes and consequences by Dr
Vellingiri Raja Badrakalimuthu
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Part
1 and Part 2 by Dr John Eagles and Dr Allen
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