Depression is one of the most common mental conditions. It is also an underlying and triggering issue for various physical and psychological disorders. Depression can often interfere with the personal and professional life, making it hard for one to succeed in either one. On a positive note, depression is a treatable condition. However, the treatment is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Did You Know?
Around 75% of those suffering from mental illnesses do not get treatment in developing countries.
Alternative treatments have become one of the most recommended and adopted techniques by millions to treat depression. It can include a host of possibilities from naturopathy to acupuncture to herbalism to massage therapy. These treatments have a holistic approach that focuses on overall well-being and helps you find peace and happiness.
Besides, these treatments have long-lasting benefits with minimal to no side-effects at all.
[Also Read: Natural Remedies for Depression]
Why Should You Consider Alternative Treatments for Depression?
Depression is believed to be caused by an imbalance in certain chemicals such as serotonin in the brain. It affects the connections between the nerves and alters their ability to pass on impulses.
Alternative treatments for depression work effectively not only by regulating the serotonin levels but also by alleviating some of the underlying health conditions. 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.
Here is a guide to the top 6 alternative treatments for depression:
1. Sunlight Lamp
Sunlight lamps, 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. It works by modulating a healthy amount of melatonin production, which in turn promotes a healthy sleep cycle. Proper sleep is known to play a vital role in reducing stress and depression.
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. There is also no way you can get addicted to this. Since you are required to ingest anything, it doesn’t impact your gastric system or interact with any other drugs you may be taking.
[Also Read: Herbal Remedies for Depression]
2. Positive Affirmations
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, it may create turmoil in the 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.
Positive affirmations break the negative-thought chain cycle and also will enhance your everyday life with more positive thoughts and self-confidence. These affirmations help you counter the negative feelings even in the long-term. 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 the 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]
Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. People with chronic health conditions such as heart diseases or diabetes are more likely to suffer from depression than healthier individuals.
Exercise(3) has been proven as an effective way to combat depression. Various studies show that physical activities trigger the release of endorphins and monoamine. These compounds trigger a positive response in your body and make you feel good. It also decreases the level of cortisol, a stress hormone.
The reduction in cortisol further emphasizes this effect. Exercise can also alter the neurotransmitter functions in the brain and encourages the growth of the hippocampus. Hippocampus is reduced in depressed patients. The growth in the hippocampus also enhances brain functions, which in turn may aid in reducing depression.
How to do 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 activity that offers high-energy expenditure for maximum benefit.
[Also Read: Hypnosis for Depression]
4. Guided Imagery
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.
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 do it?
You will listen to an audiotape or an instructor who will guide you through the process. The treatment works by guiding you to 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 improve your mood, reduce your anxiety, and make you more energetic.
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.
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 do 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]
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 the body. Acupuncture is especially useful in cases where the patient experiences pain.
How to do 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 sessions. 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 & Happy Life Today
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.
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.
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.
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.