Five Depression Treatment Methods that Don’t Involve Drugs

For some forms of depression, there are alternative depression treatment methods that can be used alone or in conjunction with traditional depression treatment, like medication and talk therapy.

If you suffer from depression, you feel alone. One in ten American adults struggle with this debilitating mental health issue. While antidepressant medications are very effective for treating depression symptoms, these aren’t the only depression treatment methods that have been proven effective.

If you or someone you care about is feeling depressed, it’s always a good idea to undergo a complete physical evaluation – sometimes depression is the result of an underlying medical condition or nutritional deficiency. If no underlying  physical cause for your depression is found, then the depression is psychiatric in nature. In this case, medication and psychotherapy can help relieve the worst of your symptoms and help you start to feel like yourself again. However, if you suffer from mild depression and don’t want to take drugs, or if you feel that it’s time to taper off your medication, these five depression treatment methods can help you manage your illness.

1) Light Therapy

Light therapy uses exposure to artificial light to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and other conditions with depressive symptoms. A study published in The Archives of General Psychiatry in 2011 found that 43% of depressed patients who received light therapy for depression treatment experienced improvement in symptoms, compared to 36% of patients in the control group. The researchers believe that these results are due to light therapy’s ability to lower stress levels and improve sleep. Depression is often characterized by chronic stress and poor sleeping patterns, making light therapy one of a handful of depression treatment methods that are both effective and do not require medication.

2) Exercise

It’s normal to struggle with low energy when you’re depressed, but getting up and exercising helps the body to release endorphins, a group of hormones your body produces that reduce stress and improve mood. Exercise also helps boost your immune system, which is crucial when you’re depressed. And from a psychological standpoint, getting out and exercising is a great way to interrupt behaviors associated with depression, such as oversleeping or isolating.

3) Yoga

When you’re depressed, stress can really weigh you down. Finding a way to relieve stress, and to manage stress over the long run, can make a huge difference in your overall condition. Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and to mitigate your body’s stress response. Yoga can lower your blood pressure and heart rate, slow your respiratory rate, and even boost your tolerance for pain. A regular yoga practice should be part of a regimen of depression treatment methods, since it helps your body develop the ability to cope more readily with stress.

In one study, the pain responses of 12 experienced practitioners of yoga were compared with those of 14 fibromyalgia patients. The researchers found that the yoga practitioners demonstrated the highest threshold for pain and the least pain-related brain activity.

Another study found that people who are struggling with “emotional distress” – levels of depressed mood, anxiety and stress that are high, but not high enough to qualify as mental illness – reported significant improvements in all areas after practicing yoga for 90 minutes three times a week for three months. Participants reported an overall 50% improvement in depressed feelings, a 30% improvement in anxiety and a 65% increase in general feelings of well-being.

4) Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of multiple “holistic” depression treatment methods that have proven efficacy in treating depression. A 2013 study found that one-third of patients benefitted from acupuncture as a way of treating their depression symptoms. 70% of the 755 people studied had been taking antidepressants in the 90 days prior to the study and around half had been taking pain medication. The study participants were allowed to continue taking their medication during the study.

The average study participant was diagnosed with moderately severe depression. After three months of acupuncture therapy, the average participant experienced about a 50% improvement in depression symptoms. They continued to feel these benefits for about three months after stopping acupuncture for depression treatment.

5) Nutrition

Oftentimes when you’re struggling with depression, healthy eating habits start to deteriorate. Maybe you eat too much, or not enough. Maybe you eat more unhealthy foods than you should. Some research suggests that a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids could cause or exacerbate depressive symptoms. A study from the University of Montreal found that omega-3 supplements are effective for treating depression symptoms in people who don’t have anxiety disorders.

If you find yourself trying different depression treatment methods but are still experiencing depression, The Delray Center for Healing can help. Our outpatient depression treatment program in Delray Beach incorporates conventional therapy and psychiatry with healthy alternative services like yoga, nutritional groups, and acupuncture. Call us at 561-266-8866 to learn more today.