Thanks to modern science and a better understanding of how the brain works, mental illnesses are being diagnosed more and more every year. Two in particular that are discussed more often than others are depression and schizophrenia. Although both mental illnesses are vastly different in terms of severity, they do share some similar traits. For instance, both depression and schizophrenia affect how a person feels, behaves, and thinks.

Schizophrenia is a rare chronic mental disorder that is often accompanied with delusions or hallucinations. Depression on the other hand floods an individual with negative feelings and emotions that can often lead to suicide. While many patients with schizophrenia often suffer from depression as well, patients with depression aren’t prone to developing schizophrenia. Both mental illnesses will often lead to doctors prescribing some type of medication, yet many people complain of no changes or worsening symptoms after taking modern medications, such as antidepressants. If you or someone you know is suffering from either schizophrenia or depression, it is important to understand that there are several alternatives that compliment prescription medications (but always consult with your doctor first), such as:

1. Supplements
Not just any supplement, but supplements rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 has been scientifically proven to improve brain health and combat depression in addition to having other benefits; such as improved eye health and reduced chances of heart disease.

2. Stress management
It will take some practice, but learning how to manage stress is crucial to lowering the severity of symptoms related to mental disorders. Breathing exercises or meditation are a great starting point to learning how to manage emotions and take back control of the mind. Spending 15-30 minutes a day practicing breathing exercises has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress and depression in people of all ages.

3. Exercise
In order to obtain a healthy mind, an individual must also have a healthy body. It is a no brainer to know that exercise is healthy for the body, but people suffering from illnesses of any kind should be trying that much harder to add exercise to their routine. If someone absolutely hates going to the gym, they could consider going for a walk or jog at a park instead. In addition to exercise, being outside has been proven to help overall brain health just as much as everything else listed so far.

4. Diet
Yes, eating healthy can be “boring”, but once the body gets used to it, it is not as bad as some people think. A well rounded diet will give the body all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to keep it running efficiently on all cylinders; don’t limit yourself to loads of processed foods and things high in sugar. Also, don’t forget to eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids as well; such as salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and plant oils (i.e., soybean oil and canola oil).

5. St. John’s Wort
A popular treatment used in Europe but not so much in the United States, this plant is thought to regulate mood by increasing the levels of a variety of chemical messengers inside the brain. Independent studies have shown that 300 mg dosages three times a day has positive benefits on the brain, so that may be a good place to start. Keep in mind, that John’s Wort is known to contradict with many other medications, so people taking it should always consult with a medical professional before taking.