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What treatment?

There are many treatments available to help people to recover from, or to live a better life with, a mental illness.

Every person with a mental illness is different, and their road to recovery will be different so the best treatment will depend on the kind of person they are, as well as the diagnosis.

This page discusses treatments:

Talking treatments

Many people find treatments that involve talking helpful.

These treatments can take many different forms. They can be one-to-one or in a group; they can involve conversations about your past or focus on actions for the future. Sometimes talking treatments work best if you are also taking medication, while others require that you stop taking it.

Every treatment and every person is different, so you may have to try a few kinds of talking treatment before you find one that works for you.


Your doctor may suggest that you try taking medication.

There are lots of different medications available, which can be taken in different forms and combinations. Some medications have side-effects, which can be unpleasant. Your doctor should discuss these with you.

Many people find that taking medication allows them to live a good life, although you may have to try a few different medications before you feel better. You may find it useful to take medication as well as using other treatments, such as talking therapy.

Complementary therapies

Some people find using alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy massage or hypnotherapy helpful for dealing with their symptoms. Most complementary therapies do not have any side effects.

If you are using mainstream treatments, such as medication or using talking treatments, it may be helpful to use alternative therapies alongside these. You should consult your doctor before you stop using any mainstream treatment.

Lifestyle changes

In some cases, changes to lifestyle can improve mental health. Exercise, taking time off work, or enjoying a hobby, like art or gardening, can make a big difference.

Of course, some people will require other treatments, but lifestyle changes can still be an important part of recovery.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

In severe cases of mental illness, where other treatments have not been effective, your doctor may suggest using electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

This treatment is most often used for treating severe depression, although it can be used for other illnesses. It is performed under general anaesthetic and involves running an electric current through the brain to induce convulsions. It can be very effective for some people.

There are safeguards for ECT. If you do not give your consent, the approval of a specialist second opinion doctor, or designated medical practitioner, is required.

Time in hospital

Sometimes, spending some time in hospital can be helpful. As well as getting medical treatment, being in hospital can give you a break and give you access to specialists, such as occupational therapists or psychologists.

You might choose to have a stay in hospital, but sometimes, when people are very unwell, they are unwilling or unable to make decisions about their treatment. In these cases it may be necessary for you to be detained under the mental health act, or "sectioned". On this page, you can find out more about being detained.

For more in-depth information on treatments, visit Mind or Royal College of Psychiatrists.