6 Alternative Treatments for Depression

alternative treatments for depression

Feeling sad is a normal human emotion. Everyone feels sad at different moments in life due to a loss or a failure to achieve something. However, when this sadness takes over your life and stops you from performing your daily activities, it is an indication that you are clinically depressed.

Did You Know?

Around 75% of those suffering from mental illnesses do not get treatment in developing countries.

Depression is a common mental health issue that affects millions of people all over the world. The most common treatment method for depression, according to western medicine, is taking an antidepressant. While depression is a treatable condition, the treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Many find the side effects of antidepressants such as insomnia, diarrhea, headaches, etc. to be too alarming, and this keeps them away from treating their depression.

However, there are also many other forms of treatments that you can opt for. These are called alternative treatments. It can include a host of possibilities from naturopathy to acupuncture to herbalism to massage therapy. The alternative treatments for depression are all about improving your overall well-being and helping you find peace and happiness. The bonus here is that unlike antidepressants, there are no side effects to the alternative treatments.

[Also Read: Natural Remedies for Depression]

Why Should You Consider Alternative Treatments for Depression?

depression
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Depression is believed to be caused by an imbalance in certain chemicals such as serotonin in the brain that affect the connections between the nerves and alter their ability to pass on impulses. Antidepressants work by delivering these chemicals to the brain in different ways.

You will have to take them till your depression is treated and then continue it for four to nine months after that to prevent relapse. What this means is that you will be dependent on these medications for close to a year.

And antidepressants are not bereft of side effects. Some of the common side effects are dry mouth, headaches, diarrhea, insomnia, decreased sex drive, dizziness, anxiety, etc. Antidepressants may also interact with the other medications you take. If you have a chronic illness and need to take some medicines daily, then antidepressants may not be your best option.

In addition to all of this, these medicines are also known to increase suicidal thoughts in teenagers. The medication may end up causing the exact thing they are trying to prevent! These side effects are caused due to the interaction of the drug with the brain and may subside after a few weeks for some patients, but for some others, it will continue throughout treatment.

Alternative treatments for depression(1) do not have these side effects. They work by finding the cause of the depression and helping you cope with it. Some of them are also aimed at increasing serotonin levels. But since they do so using natural methods, the side effects of antidepressants are abated. You stand to lose nothing by trying out these alternative treatments. On the contrary, it may end up improving your overall well-being and providing you with a way to cope with future stress.

What are Some Alternative Treatments for Depression?

Has this got you thinking about the alternative treatments for depression? Are you confused about where to start and how to go about these treatments? Fret Not! Here is a guide to the top 6 alternative treatments for depression.

1. Sunlight Lamp for Depression Treatment

Sunlight Lamp Therapy
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Sunlight lamps are lamps that, just like their name, mimic the sunlight. Using sunlight lamps for treating depression is also known as light therapy(2). Studies have shown that these are almost as effective as antidepressants.

How Does It Work?

As mentioned before, depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. One of these chemicals is melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for making you feel sleepy or drowsy. The body’s pineal gland releases this chemical in the absence of light.

This is one of the reasons for seasonal depression. Melatonin is also the reason why you feel drowsy or tired when you are depressed. When you subject yourself to sunlight lamps for depression treatment, the body does not produce melatonin. This stops you from feeling tired and drowsy and gives you energy for the day.

How to Use It?

Sunlight lamps are extremely easy to use. You only need to switch on the light and sit in front of it for at least 30 minutes. You can keep the light on in the room as you do your daily chores as well. It is more beneficial to do this in the morning as it is the ideal time to stimulate your system and tell it to be more active.

Sunlight lamps have no side effects. They do not impact your health adversely in any way. And unlike antidepressants, there is no way you can overdose on too much light. There is also no way you can get addicted to this. Since you are required to ingest anything, it doesn’t impact with your gastric system or interact with any other drugs you may be taking.

[Also Read: Herbal Remedies for Depression]

2. Positive Affirmations for Depression Treatment

Positive Affirmations
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If you are depressed, then you are well aware of the constant negative thoughts that go on in your head. When someone else makes a negative comment about you, it keeps playing over and over in your head. Positive affirmations for treating depression are a way to combat this negative train of thought. It is a way to mold your subconscious into thinking positively. This is supported by many studies as well.

How Does It Work?

Depression leads to a spiraling cycle of negative thought and its effect on your mental health. You end up thinking you are worse than you are. By using positive affirmations, you will break this cycle. It will lead you to develop more positive thoughts and self-confidence. These affirmations help you counter the negative thoughts. The key here is to find affirmations that relate specifically to you.

How to Use It?

You start by writing down your positive qualities and the goals you want to achieve. Now, think about the negative thoughts that most often come to your mind. Note them down because you have to replace these with positive thoughts. Select those affirmations that are based on those positive qualities that can help you achieve your goals.

Now start repeating these affirmations to yourself at least ten times in a row whenever you feel negative thoughts starting to creep in. You should also repeat them first thing in the morning and just before you sleep. It may feel superficial at first, but as you keep doing this, you start to believe in it, and it helps you overcome your depression.

[Also Read: Positive Affirmation for Depression]

Did You Know?

Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, and you are more likely to suffer from depression if you have some other chronic ailment such as heart disease.

3. Exercise for Depression Treatment

Exercising women
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You have heard about multiple health benefits of exercising regularly. Now add one more to the list. Exercise(3) has been proven as an effective way to combat depression.

How Does It Work?

Various studies show that exercise triggers the release of endorphins and monoamine. It also decreases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Endorphins and monoamines trigger a positive response in your body and make you feel good.

The reduction in cortisol further emphasizes this effect. Exercise can also alter the neurotransmitter functions in the brain and encourages the growth of hippocampus. Hippocampus is reduced in depressed patients. The growth in the hippocampus is also an effect that is seen in those using antidepressants for a long duration. The neurological response of the body to exercise is stronger than the response from using antidepressants.

How to Use It?

Start by picking an activity you would enjoy and a time when you can be sure you will be free to exercise. The initial stages are about finding a rhythm and creating a habit. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise. The exercise can be either aerobic or in the form of resistance training. Try to choose an exercise that offers high-energy expenditure for maximum benefit.

[Also Read: Hypnosis for Depression]

4. Guided Imagery for Depression Treatment

Guided Imagery
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Guided imagery is a form of meditative self-aid technique that can be used to improve the connection between your mind and body by creating peaceful and calming images. Several studies have shown that guided imagery is an effective way to treat depression and anxiety.

How Does It Work?

Guided imagery can help you stay calm and relaxed. It focuses your mind on concentrating on the positive aspects of life. It is also an exercise for your creative side of the brain and, therefore, allows you to focus on your emotions. The effect is similar to that of positive affirmations. But here, instead of words, you will be focussing on images.

How to Use It?

You will listen to an audio tape or an instructor who will guide you through the process. The treatment works by gently making you focus on a particular image. This image can be anything that gives you solace and helps alleviate the symptoms of depression. For example, if you feel lonely and alone, then the guided imagery will ask you to focus on an image of you surrounded by your loved one.

If you are suffering from an ailment that is causing your depression, then your image could be that of when you have fully recovered and are healthy. Practicing this every day can help improve your mood, reduce your anxiety, and make you more energetic.

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5. Meditation for Depression Treatment

Woman Meditation
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Meditation is a form of relaxation where you enter an altered state of consciousness. Regularly practicing meditation for at least 10 minutes a day has been shown to help with depression.

How Does It Work?

When you are depressed, you focus on all the negatives in your life and tend to ignore the positives. Even when you do think about the positive happenings in your life, you think about it in a negative light. Meditation helps you achieve a detached state where you can effectively evaluate and counter the negative thoughts that come into mind. In addition to this, regular meditation also leads to a growth in the hippocampus in the brain, and this has been shown to treat depression.

How to Use It?

To start meditating, firstly find a calm place and sit in a relaxed upright position. Now, inhale and exhale slowly and focus your mind only on your breathing. Initially, you may find that you get distracted after a few minutes. But don’t give up. When your mind wanders, try to bring it back and concentrate on your breathing. With time and practice, this process will become simpler.

The act of focussing on your breath alone and nothing else forces you to abandon all negative thoughts. You will feel refreshed after your meditation. While you are focusing on your breathing, you can also focus on a single positive thought and keep at it. This will also encourage you to gain a positive outlook. Doing this regularly will help you with your depression.

[Also Read: Meditation for Depression]

6. Acupuncture for Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Needles
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Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice where the treatment for specific ailments is done by sticking fine needles into certain parts of the body. There has been growing evidence supporting the use of acupuncture in treating depression.

How Does It Work?

Acupuncture aims to smooth the energy flow in the body by removing blockages or impediments. The needles are inserted in specific points that lie on the meridians of the body. Acupuncture also increases the level of endorphins in the body while reducing the level of stress hormones. This is similar to the effect of exercising.

In addition to this, if some other medical ailment causes your depression or anxiety, then the acupuncture will also help with that ailment. This, in turn, will have a positive effect on your mind, as well as body. Acupuncture is especially useful in cases where the patient experiences pain.

How to Use It?

The procedure has to be performed by a trained acupuncturist. You can tell them your issues, and they will perform the procedure accordingly. Do keep in mind that this takes a while to show an effect. You will not be cured in one sitting. It might take multiple sittings. The benefits of the treatment make it worth the wait.

Did You Know?

WHO doesn’t recommend antidepressants for mild depression and for treating children and adolescents.

Start Living a Healthy and Happy Life Today

Happy Women
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Depression is a treatable illness. However, the social stigma attached to it prevents many from seeking help. Add to this the fact that you may not even realize you are suffering from depression. And when you do seek help, you are given antidepressants that affect your health adversely and cause you to stop seeking treatment.

If you are suffering from depression, then you should consider the alternative treatments for depression mentioned above. They have no side effects, and many of them work just as well, if not better than antidepressants.


FAQs

1. What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

An overwhelming sense of sadness, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of appetite or overeating, feeling tired all the time, difficulty concentrating, unexplained physical pains or discomforts, reckless behavior, etc. are the symptoms of depression.

2. What Are the Side Effects of Antidepressants?

Nausea, weight gain, loss of appetite, insomnia, diarrhea, blurred vision, fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, irritability, loss of sexual desire, liver problems, interaction with other drugs, suicidal thoughts, etc. are the side effects of antidepressants.

3. Can Depression Be Treated?

Depression is a treatable disease. The treatment plan may vary from person to person. Your doctor can suggest some well-established treatment methods based on the severity of your depression and its cause.

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