Lifestyle changes complement traditional mental health treatments, speaker says


Maintaining one’s mental health can sometimes require a multi-faceted approach outside of traditional talk therapies or medicine.

Ronald Glick, a psychiatrist and medical director of UPMC’s Center for Integrative Medicine, spoke on some of those options to the Pitt community on Nov. 1, with his presentation: “Non-Pharmaceutical Remedies for Mental Health Symptoms.” 

The presentation was part of Pitt’s Mental Wellness Taskforce.

Some of the methods Glick discussed included a healthy exercise regiment, use of over-the-counter supplements, acupuncture, naturopathy, mindfulness meditation and more.

Glick said these remedies are evidence-based and can be used to complement more traditional talk therapy and antidepressants.  

The amount of people suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental illness has been increasing over the past few decades, Glick said.

“That's because we think that the reason things are so much worse is because we’re sedentary, our diets are poor, and we’re stressed,” Glick said. “So, it’s not … something that Lexapro fixes. The treatment for that is really addressing the lifestyle concerns.”

But those lifestyle changes — eating healthier foods, gradually adopting an exercise regimen, etc. — can be especially difficult for people experiencing mental illness.

“If someone is experiencing depression, or other mental health difficulties, then that limits their resources to be able to engage in that kind of lifestyle changes — doing the exercise and saying, ‘OK, I really need to work on my diet,’ … that all takes energy.”

One of the most important things psychologists, physicians and mental health professionals focus on, Glick said, is promoting and encouraging patients to work toward changing their lifestyles.

“That's the essential ingredient,” Glick said. “In other words, you can do other things. But if people aren't doing those, making those lifestyle changes, it’s a real uphill battle.”

Additional information on services at the Center for Integrative Medicine can be found here and additional information and health tips can be found on the Mental Wellness Taskforce website.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.