Happy New Year . . .

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Light Therapy – Some people describe great benefits from light therapy. Information on light therapy boxes is available online and possibly through your physician.
  5. Massage Therapy – Research indicates that massage therapy can relieve depressive symptoms. A referral to a licensed massage therapy professional is advised.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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 johnsf44@gmail.com

7 thoughts on “Happy New Year . . .”

  1. Hi, John, so great to read your blog. Great info and writing style. Happy New Year to you and Rita. Remembering that you two joined us 26 years ago at our wedding!

    1. Hi Kate.

      Yes! I remember your wedding. It was awesome. Rita and I stole the idea of having friends and family stand and add to the process. I hope you and your family are continuing to be awesome.



  2. I’m coming over from the Weekend Link Up and found it interesting that you linked this particular post right after my post – which deals with, in a more flowery way, what my life is like living with depression. I’m on meds and need to start therapy back up again, but I am going to look into some of these other options as well. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. Hi Amber.

      Yes. All these links and connections are quite interesting and sometimes amazing.

      I hope some of the ideas are useful, but more importantly, I hope you keep on successfully fighting away that cloud of depression.

      All best,

      John SF

    1. Hi Melissa.

      When will you be in Missoula? I’m just now planning my group class and I’m thinking if you want to come and NOT make a formal presentation, but instead do a facilitated Q and A with me and the class on running groups in an remote Alaskan school setting. Let me know your thoughts and thanks for commenting.


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