A Holistic Self-learning Approach for Young Adult Depression and Anxiety Compared to Medication-Based Treatment-As-Usual

Abstract

A package of biopsychosocial services for young adults experiencing psychological distress was evaluated and compared to usual outpatient psychiatric care. Young adults (18–25) with moderate-to-severe symptoms of depression and/or anxiety (n = 26) were enrolled in a 13-week intervention consisting of nutritional coaching and multi-vitamin supplements, weekly educational and peer support groups, and a modest financial stipend to engage with physical or expressive activities. A comparison group (n = 13) continued with their usual medication-based outpatient care. Program participants reported significantly improved depression, anxiety, severity of distress, overall quality of life, and empowerment over 4 months, with progress maintained or further improved at 2-month follow-up. No evidence of change on any outcome was observed for comparison group participants. Although long-term impacts on mental health trajectories and reliance on psychotropic medications remain unknown, a holistic self-learning approach is a viable alternative to standard outpatient psychiatric care for young adults.

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Funding

This study was funded by the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care. Vitamin supplements used in this study were donated by Hardy Nutritionals. Fish oil used in this study was donated by Vital Nutrients.

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Correspondence to Shannon Hughes.

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Hughes, S., Rondeau, M., Shannon, S. et al. A Holistic Self-learning Approach for Young Adult Depression and Anxiety Compared to Medication-Based Treatment-As-Usual. Community Ment Health J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-020-00666-9

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Keywords

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychological distress
  • Young adults
  • Holistic
  • Program evaluation