Crystals for anxiety and depression: Do they work? – Medical News Today

Crystals and crystal healing have become increasingly popular in recent years. People who use crystals cite their supposed healing powers and positive energy. However, there is no scientific evidence to support their use in the treatment of anxiety or depression.

The New Age idea and practice of crystal healing takes its cues from Ancient Egypt, Greece, India, and Rome. People in these civilizations used crystals as talismans to protect themselves from evil, and as a spiritual practice meant to influence a person’s mental and physiological state.

Today, crystals have regained traction as a holistic approach to mental health, becoming a trend among those who have anxiety and depression. Users cite anecdotal evidence, based on ancient Sanskrit beliefs, that crystals contain energy that unblocks certain chakras, or energy centers, in the body. These are said to include pent-up anger, denial, sorrow, or any type of emotional turmoil.

This article will explore whether crystals have any effect on anxiety and depression, as well as their potential psychological effects, historic uses, and more.

Crystals are one of many popular holistic approaches to treating emotional and psychological health. However, there is no scientific evidence to support any claims for the healing power of crystals.

Western, or modern, medicine as we know it, began just after the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Many of the medical practices and treatments that our society is familiar with today stem from inventions and scientific discoveries that first emerged during this time period. Before the advent of modern medicine, however, civilizations used a wide variety of holistic treatments to promote physical and emotional health.

Today, some people are increasingly dissatisfied with modern medicine. Research suggests that those patients may be warier of the potential adverse side effects of medicines, and motivated to try a holistic approach due to factors like the financial costs, their distrust in doctors, or concerns that the traditional health care system is too impersonal. The study noted almost 40% of people in the U.S. use some form of complementary medicine, although this includes vitamins and supplements.

Alternative or non-traditional medicine tends to focus on healing the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — and often relies on practices or treatments from the era before modern medicine.

Those who turn to crystals for psychological healing are employing a practice that people have used for thousands of years.

That said, scientific evidence increasingly shows that crystal use for anxiety and depression is not effective. Rather, it is an individual’s belief in the power of crystals that may play a role in each person’s experience. Essentially, any beneficial effects people feel are no more than placebo effects.

There is extensive research on the “placebo effect” that demonstrates that a person’s mindset is hugely influential when it comes to experiencing positive effects from a treatment approach. The placebo effect occurs when a person has a belief about the treatment they are receiving, usually with the assumption that the treatment will be effective.

In a study that focused on the effects of acupuncture for pain relief, the results showed that nearly half of all participants experienced significant improvement compared with those who received traditional care. That said, the study also concluded that these findings may have been on account of the placebo effect rather than any actual healing power of acupuncture.

Similarly, those who use crystals as a psychological treatment may also experience positive results based on their expectations. People who believe in the efficacy of holding or wearing certain crystals for courage, love, positivity, or happiness, for example, may actually experience some of those emotional results based on their mindset.

Ancient practices, primarily from the Asian tradition, employed crystals as charms for health and protection. People used certain crystals for specific purposes. For example, the ancient Egyptians used chrysolite to ward off nightmares and evil spirits, and used green stones for burial purposes.

Crystals also played a role in some religious traditions, and people used them up for healing up until the Renaissance period. They are mentioned in several sacred texts, including the Bible, the Koran, and Buddhist writings.

The ancient Greeks used amethyst to prevent drunkenness and hangovers, and hematite, a type of iron ore, for protection in battle.

In addition, as late as 1609 in Germany, the court physician to Rudolf II suggested that good or bad angels transmitted powers to certain crystals, giving them their power.

The placebo effect may produce some benefit in people who use crystals. However, they are not a cure or long-term remedy for anxiety and depression. Instead, a doctor may recommend any of the following treatments for long-term success:

  • recurring therapy sessions
  • anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants
  • a combination of medication and psychotherapy
  • frequent exercise
  • mindfulness or meditation
  • dietary or lifestyle changes.

People may respond to one or more of these treatments for management of depression or anxiety symptoms. In particular, research shows that a combination of medication and psychotherapy is effective for improving mental health.

Learn more about different types of therapy here.

Crystals have gained traction as a holistic, New Age treatment for improving people’s moods and overall state of mind. Howver, there is no evidence that crystals have healing powers that benefit mental health, including as a treatment for anxiety and depression, beyond a placebo effect. People should consult with a doctor to determine a treatment that will work best for their symptoms.