Living with depression can feel like navigating through a storm.
Finding the right treatment plan for your depression can be just as difficult.
Often, we assume that with depression comes a little orange pill bottle. However, while medication may be prescribed alongside regular therapy, there are many different options for treating depression that can help relieve symptoms.
Depression that has been diagnosed by your therapist and is independent of any physically-based medical condition* can be approached through holistic treatments before introducing medication.
Most of the options for treating depression without medication are simple changes in lifestyle coupled with professionally administered therapy.
Holistic Options for Treating Depression
Work it out!
No, you don’t need to get on a marathon training schedule. In fact, most of us only need 30-60 minutes of exercise regularly throughout the week in order to reap the physical and psychological benefits of exercise.
Exercise releases endorphins, and increases serotonin—instant pick-me-up! In addition, exercise, similar to anti-depressant medications, encourages healthy growth and function of brain cells.
Did we mention health?
Exercise is one way to maintain your health, but so too is your eating and sleep patterns. Eating a well-balanced diet ensures that your body has all the nutrients to function properly. Low energy or diet-related bodily discomfort, leads to an exasperation of depression symptoms.
Likewise, lack of sleep at a night is sure to lead to grogginess and irritability. It will also put additional stress on our brain, not having had the proper amount of time to rest and repair. Aim for around nine hours of sleep each night to support your efforts for a more positive day.
We understand that participating in social engagements while suffering from feelings of depression can feel like an impossible request—especially when all your efforts focus on just getting out of bed. The more isolated you become, the more likely you are to fall deeper into your depression.
Therefore, connections with others are essential for overcoming depression because social networks help us feel supported, loved and safe. Begin with small group interactions in spaces in which you feel the most comfortable, and then build from there.
Stress, as we know, takes a huge toll on our mental and physical health. Thus, while tackling your depression, look at the areas of your life that are producing the most stress and attempt to eliminate those factors.
That could include an unhealthy relationship, a living situation, or having too many activities on your plate. Look to resolve stress or find techniques that help you learn how you process the unavoidable stress in your life.
Find the therapy that is right for you
An alternative to medication, are several forms of therapy. These methods include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or even a combination of a few. Consult with your therapist to discover which plan is going to be most effective for you.
Group therapy is an additional form of therapy that can be incredibly helpful. Group therapy can demonstrate to you that you are not alone in your struggles while also providing the social support needed to feel safe and motivated.
Clearly, depression is an overwhelming diagnosis to receive and can prove difficult to manage. However, your mental health can improve without medication through a well-rounded approach that includes lifestyle changes and professional help. There are many options for treating depression, as long as you are patient and willingly.
(*Note: It is important to first understand if your depression is a psychological or medical condition. Some health conditions such as hyperthyroidism, B12 deficiency, and other physical ailments can produce depression-like symptoms. For this type of depression, it is best to consult with your physician.)