What is an alternative depression treatment? Well in this case we’re looking at options that aren’t medication. Usually antidepressant meds are the first treatment plan people consider after finding out that they are suffering with depression.
So what can you do? Consider alternative depression treatments as part of your assault on depression.
Alternative depression treatment: Lifestyle changes
For some, looking for alternative treatments for depression, lifestyle changes are all that’s required but they can also be an important part of an overall treatment program if your depression is more severe.
Spend a few minutes looking at your life and identifying causes of stress and consider how you might reduce this.
Mark’s depression became substantially worse after he took a new job. His manager seemed to dislike him immediately and bullied him almost from day one. Mark realised this was adding to his stress and depression so made a complaint to HR. They worked with Mark to try to improve the situation but he didn’t feel it was enough. Mark was lucky enough to find a new job where he worked with much nicer people who recognised his ability and were very supportive. By reducing stress in this area he found that his depression eased considerably and very quickly.
How well are you sleeping? Try to make sure that you are getting enough rest. You will find your symptoms are worse if you are trying to get by on less than 7 hours sleep a night.
What is your diet like? In my experience people suffering with depression either comfort eat or don’t eat enough. Whilst fast food, chocolate and desserts may be really attractive try to ensure that you eat a balanced diet with plenty for fresh fruit and vegetables. And eat regularly. This will ensure that your sugar levels don’t dip and help to stabilise your mood.
Regular exercise is an important weapon in the fight against depression. It’s a great alternative depression treatment because when you exercise it releases endorphins and boosts serotonin which make you feel happy. If you’re not used to exercise start with walking as walking is a great stress buster. Just 30 minutes a day is enough to make a difference to how you feel.
Brandon had started taking antidepressant meds when his father died. It coincided with a very stressful time in his life as Brandon was also studying for his law degree finals. His GP prescribed antidepressants for depression with the idea of helping Brandon to get through the exams. After his exams Brandon started seeing a psychologist. After a few months Brandon was keen to come off the antidepressant meds. He joined a gym and went five times a week really focusing on cardio. Brandon came to really enjoy running especially and when his 30 minutes were up he often kept going for another 15-30 minutes. Under his doctor’s supervision Brandon was able to reduce and finally come off the antidepressants without feeling his mood dip. Exercise continues to be a constant part of Brandon’s life and his depression has never returned.
Alternative Depression Treatment: Supplements
In addition to alternative depression treatments there are some natural treatments for depression which you can try. As far as supplements go St John’s Wort is probably the most well known. You can learn more in my natural treatments for depression article.
Alternative Depression Treatment: Complementary Therapies
If you’re seeking an alternative treatment for depression then complementary therapies such as homeopathy and acupuncture can also be helpful.
The way homeopathy works is to treat the whole person. Before prescribing a remedy a homeopath would consider your mental and bodily types along with your symptoms. There isn’t a one size fits all in homeopathy. One person with depression could get a different remedy from another.
If you are taking antidepressants homeopathy had still be used in addition.
With acupuncture very fine needles are inserted in to the skin at specific points to unblock stagnant energy in the body. It’s a practice that has been used for many years in the East. Among other things Acupuncture can lift your mood and reduce stress.
Alternative Depression Treatment: Therapy
Those who seek therapy for depression have around a 30% chance of relapsing within two years . If you only take antidepressant medication than your chance of relapsing within two years is around 60%. So I think you’ll agree that it’s worth exploring therapy.
There are different types of therapy you can try but Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT therapy is put forward by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as the psychological treatment of choice for mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.
CBT therapy is a talking therapy that can help you challenge negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
I favour CBT therapy because it gives you, the patient, a greater knowledge and sense of control over the whole process.
Our feelings are not a good guide to reality in a lot of circumstances and in particularly when we have very negative beliefs and feelings about ourselves. If we don’t challenge these beliefs and feelings and change them they will continue to exert a powerful influence over us and they will distort and eventually ruin the course of our lives causing depression, for example.
CBT therapy is a good way to go about changing your thoughts and feelings.
Alternative Depression Treatment: Finding a therapist
Your GP should be able to refer to a good therapist or you can ask around and see if anyone has a therapist they recommend.
Sometimes you can’t access therapy as quickly or cheaply as you’d like. If you find that’s the case there are some online courses such as Mood Control which you can begin immediately.
There are also free CBT exercises on the internet which you can use to get you started.