Modern medicine has come a long way! Thanks to breakthroughs in numerous medical fields over many years, we now have a pill or procedure to cure nearly any illness that could plague us. Surprisingly, though, there are still some fields that have remained relatively quiet for decades. One of these fields is mental illness. Until just recently, there had not been any new, breakthrough treatments in more than 50 years—that’s decades of stale treatment options for debilitating conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and more. As time has progressed, though, alternative methods for treating these all-to-common afflictions have surfaced. Horticultural therapy (HT) is one such treatment, and though it has been around since the 1800’s, it’s just now beginning to garner more attention. Through the careful tending and nurturing of plants, many have found peace where all other treatments have failed.

Dr. Benjamin Rush was one of the first psychiatrists to document the positive effects that gardening has on mental illness. It may sound unusual, but there are plenty of people around the world who find tending to their garden to be a very pleasant experience—lowering their blood pressure, calming their nerves, and lifting their depression. This is likely due to their redirected focus away from their daily troubles and onto the careful treatment of another life. For these people, peace is found by temporarily prioritizing the wellness of another instead of themselves. By practicing this regularly, they find it becomes easier to let go of their troubles sooner rather than later, and as a result dedicate more of their time doing the things they actually enjoy.

The rewards to gardening are multifaceted: in addition to the joy that managing their plants may bring, effective gardening can also produce delicious fruits and vegetables to eat or cook with. This means that those who tend to their gardens regularly are rewarded for their patience and dedication. Thankfully, fruits and vegetables are a very healthy part of any diet, so supplementing your diet with more of them only ensures that your body gets the essential vitamins and minerals it needs.

HT is prescribed differently depending on the condition and the doctor. For some, this means caring for a simple house plant, while for others this means managing an entire garden. For some, this may be a solitary activity, while for others it may be done in a group. Either way, the therapeutic value is clear.

For typical cases of depression, HT may be worth exploring, especially if finding a new hobby, meeting new people, and creating things seems intriguing to you. However, if your depression is severe enough, it may be better to combine HT with more modern treatments, like psychotherapy, antidepressants or ketamine infusions. When combined, you have a better chance at moving quickly through your depressive episode—and keeping your depression at bay for longer. Instead of letting mental illness interfere with your enjoyment of life, consider treatments like HT as a useful tool to employ at your disposal.

Elev8 MD Wellness Center offers a wide variety of treatments for those suffering from high stress, anxiety and depression. In addition to ketamine infusions, we also offer reiki, acupuncture, massage therapy, and IV hydration therapy, and can even help you establish a vitamin regimen to best support your mind-body needs. Contact our Charlotte, NC wellness center today and let us know how we can meet your health and wellness needs.