When someone is suffering from depression, antidepressants are often the only treatment prescribed. But antidepressants have many dangerous side effects and risks, and many have proven to be almost ineffective. Here are some alternative suggestions for treating depression.
1. Exercise – Researchers are discovering that exercise can be as beneficial as anti-depressants in treating depression. A ground-breaking study put depression sufferers who had previously been on anti-depressants through a 3-month exercise regimen. Almost 30 percent of participants experienced full remission, while another 20 percent noted an improvement. The main reason is that exercise produces the same neurotransmitters that most depression medications do. Exercise also makes one feel healthier and more confident about oneself.
2. Herbs & Supplements – Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils have shown to be effective in treating depression, as well as supporting cardiovascular health. St Johns Wart is an herb that can help mild to moderate cases of depression. S-Adenosyl Methionine, also called SAM or SAM-e is a natural compound found in all mammals that can alleviate depression symptoms. SAM can synthesize brain processes and help it create more feel-good neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 has been shown to help mild depression because it helps the brain produce neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
3. Relaxation/Meditation – Relaxation can decrease muscle tension, lower blood pressure, and improve circulation. There are many helpful relaxations techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or music therapy. Meditation is an altered state of consciousness in which one clears the mind and focuses on one thought – a word, a phrase, or an image. Both techniques also slow down the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn decreases the production of certain chemicals and hormones associated with the stress response.
4. Massage Therapy – Massage is another type of relaxation based on the idea that the mind and body are connected, therefore linking physical and emotional well-being. Touch therapies such as massage also increase endorphins that produce a positive feeling.
5. Reflexology/Acupuncture – In reflexology, a therapist applies pressure to certain points on the hands and feet, with the idea that the nerves at the extremities are connected to various points in the body. Acupuncture works in a similar way, using fine needles at specific points to help the body create chemicals to decrease pain.
6. Diet – Reduce your intake of sweets, caffeine, and alcohol. Sweets can cause blood sugar levels to rise and plummet, causing mood swings. Alcohol is a depressant and caffeine is a stimulant, but both can increase mood swings, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
7. Psychotherapy – A mental health professional or therapist can help you explore the factors contributing to your depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be particularly effective with depression sufferers, because it involves the re-construction of a patient’s thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
8. Alternative Therapy – Aside from traditional methods of therapy and counseling, there are also alternative therapy methods that have been shown to help depression. For example, art therapy allows patients to express their emotions without words and provides their minds with a creative outlet. Ecotherapy brings patients into the natural world and has them interact and connect with their environment to explore their emotions.
Lindsey Webber is a School Counselor for high school students. She has been practicing for 9 years. Lindsey also owns the site Masters in Counseling.