Coping with depression is an issue faced by a growing number of Americans today, and with the prevalence of antidepressant ads on TV a veil of fog has been blown around more homeopathic methods of treatment. Fortunately, there are several well-regarded methods that help relieve depression symptoms so you can get on the road to recovery. Treating depression without medication is a simple process of taking small steps every day toward a larger goal.
There are two small steps that can be taken immediately to help alleviate depression symptoms. The first step is to ensure you’re getting all of your needed daily vitamins and minerals. This can be done by eating healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals (the best choice) or taking a multivitamin/mineral every day. Without these essential vitamins and minerals, your body doesn’t function as it should, which can lead to fatigue, sickness, and mood lowering which can spiral into anxiety and depression. For some, depression is completely alleviated once the body receives all it needs.
The second step is to do moderate cardiovascular exercise (anything that gets your heart pumping) every day. Cardio gets your blood flowing and activates the release of endorphins, which act as natural mood raisers. Twenty minutes of activity three times a week will not only naturally raise your mood, but, as a side effect, can help you lose weight, if that is also a goal.
Herbal treatments have been used by many for years as an alternative to antidepressants. One such over-the-counter remedy is St. Johns wort. One particular analysis of clinical trials involving over 5000 patients concluded that extracts of St. Johns wort were superior to placebo in patients with major depression.
Another OTC method in treating depression without drugs is 5-HTP supplementation. 5-HTP is a precursor chemical to serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, sleep, appetite, and a few other body systems. A lack of serotonin will have a negative impact on these body systems, and thus mood will decrease. That may lead to depression. Supplementing with 5-HTP, which can be bought in any vitamin store, may have an impact if the depression is caused by low serotonin levels.
If all of these methods have been tried, or you’d simply like to go a more traditional route, a therapist might be the answer. Treating depression with therapy is highly effective and helps the patient to build new anchors and habits, which will prevent the depression from rearing its ugly head again. Most popular and effective today is cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) involves replacing the negative thought loops of depression with more positive, action oriented thoughts. Going through CBT is not an overnight process, but over time, through the use of relaxation, mindfulness, and distraction techniques, much progress can be seen. It is common for a diary to be kept cataloging significant thoughts and associated feelings, depressive thoughts and behavior, and other associated assumptions and beliefs that may be unhelpful or unrealistic. Most patients see improvement after only five or ten sessions.
So despite the media shoving antidepressants down our throats, there are other more natural alternatives available. Changes in diet and exercise, herbal treatments, or therapy may be the positive steps that work for you.