Non-Drug Options for Dealing with Depression
“When it comes to treating depressive symptoms, there’s no better medicine than healthy and loving relationships”
The following options can be very effective for relieving depression symptoms. Although antidepressant medications are also an option, because they’re so widely marketed only non-drug alternatives are listed and described here.
- Psychotherapy – Going to a reputable and licensed mental health professional who offers counseling or psychotherapy for depression can be very helpful. This may include family, couple, or group counseling or therapy.
- Vigorous Aerobic Exercise – Consider initiating and maintaining a regular cardiovascular or aerobic exercise schedule. This could involve a referral to a personal trainer and/or local fitness center (e.g., YMCA).
- Herbal Remedies – Some individuals benefit from taking herbal supplements. For example, there is evidence that Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish oil) can reduce depressive symptoms. It’s good to consult with a health care provider if you’re pursuing this option.
- Light Therapy – Some people describe great benefits from light therapy. Information on light therapy boxes is available online and possibly through your physician.
- Massage Therapy – Research indicates that massage therapy can relieve depressive symptoms. A referral to a licensed massage therapy professional is advised.
- Bibliotherapy – Research indicates that some people benefit from reading and working with self-help books or workbooks. The Feeling Good Handbook (Burns, 1999) and Mind over Mood (Greenberger and Padesky, 1995) are two popular self-help books.
- Mild Exercise and Physical/Social Activities – Even if you’re not up to vigorous exercise, you should know that nearly any type of movement has antidepressant effects. These activities could include, but not be limited to yoga, walking, swimming, bowling, hiking, or whatever you can do!
- Relationship Enhancement – As suggested by the opening quotation, the most potent medicine available for addressing depressive symptoms is a healthy and loving relationship. You can work on improving relationships in many ways, especially by developing effective communication skills, engaging in mutually enjoyable activities, and making a commitment to behaving in ways that support both your own mental health and that of your partner.
- Other Meaningful Activities – Never underestimate the healing power of meaningful activities. Activities could include (a) church or spiritual pursuits; (b) charity work; (c) animal caretaking (adopting a pet); and (d) other activities that might be personally meaningful to you.
For information about this tip sheet, contact John Sommers-Flanagan, Ph.D. at firstname.lastname@example.org