The use of alternative therapies by people with mental health problems seems to be rising. Are the people who access alternative therapies those with mild or more severe problems? A postal survey was undertaken of enquirers responding to a teletext article on self-help psychotherapies for obsessive–compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. Respondents were asked to rate the severity and duration of their problem and the therapies and services they had used.
Of 326 questionnaires sent out, 113 (35%) completed questionnaires were returned. Seventeen (15%) respondents had sought no help for their anxiety problems, 76 (67%) had been treated by their general practitioner (GP), 62 (55%) by a psychiatrist or psychologist and 48 (42%) had used alternative therapies. People who had sought help from their GP did not rate their problems significantly more severe than those who had not sought treatment. Those who had been treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist and those who had used alternative therapies rated their problem as being significantly more severe than those who had not sought help for it.
In this selected sample it was the more severe anxiety sufferers who had used alternative therapies.
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