Depression affects approximately 14.8 million American adults 18 and older. Click To Tweet
There are a variety of alternative and home remedies for depression. While they may not be scientifically sanctioned alternatives to medication and clinical therapy, these alternative treatments are often time-honored and ancestral solutions that can have strong groundings in commonsense. As you read below, consider if adopting one or two can benefit your own life.
Probably the best treatment for depression is the act of talking. All of the major therapy approaches including psychodynamic therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy stress the role of communication within the therapeutic practice.
Most experts agree that alternative treatments have the most efficacy in cases of mild to moderate depression. That said, let’s examine some of the leading options.
Perhaps the most promising alternative treatment for depression is exercise . Has a tendency to raise the mood swiftly and for extended periods of time. Many neurological psychologists concur that it is as effective as it is because exercise affects the exact same neurotransmitters that typical antidepressants also affect. If you were feeling depressed, it is advised that 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day can have a positive effect on your mood.
Both yoga and meditation can have a positive effect on your mood- they can both reduce your experience anxiety and stress, both large contributors to feelings of depression. Within the practice of yoga and meditation, deep breathing practices, progressive muscle relaxation and a general emptying of mind can greatly contribute to a sense of peace and calm. Meditation in particular, if practiced diligently, can have a revolutionary effect on your life. Several major studies have found that meditation significantly reduces the risk of major depressive disorder or recurrence.
A bit more controversial than meditation, dietary supplements and herbs have long functioned as alternative treatment options for depression .
One of the most popular of the group is St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort is extracted from a wild shrub and has been in use as a treatment for mild depression for hundreds of years. Research studies have not been able to verify the claims that St. John’s wort is effective- it has not demonstrated in research statistically significant decreases in an individual’s depression. However, this is not to say that it doesn’t have a positive effect on your mood. It may just be the research studies lacked external validity or were simply poorly conducted.
GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) is actually a neurotransmitter partially responsible for stress relief, and commonly consumed as a pill or powder. Research has demonstrated that individuals with low GABA levels have higher degrees of depression and anxiety. Other studies have demonstrated that consumption of GABA was correlated with a relaxing effect on brain waves. As with St. John’s wort, since treatment responses vary by individual, it may be best to try it out for yourself. As always, make sure that you consult with a physician to ensure that there are no conflicts by taking GABA with any of your other medications.
SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a compound that occurs naturally and has an effect on serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters. Research studies have demonstrated that lower levels of the substance in individuals have been correlated with instances of their depression. Other scientific studies have demonstrated that consuming same ones as effective as taking tricyclic antidepressant medications.
That said, its effect has not been compared against more modern antidepressants like SSRIs. There are some side effects with this one- it has been demonstrated to aggravate manic or hypomanic symptoms and bipolar patients. Definitely do not attempt to take this medicine without proper medical oversight.
This is another interesting item on our list, though not entirely counterintuitive. A meta-analysis conducted by WebMD demonstrated that massage therapy lower cortisol levels in subjects by 50% . Massage therapy can also boost serotonin and dopamine levels. As well, the International Journal of Neuroscience conducted a study of depressed individuals who had suffered spinal cord injuries. The results of the study were that the experimental group that received massage therapy, versus the other group that merely received motion exercise therapies, demonstrated decreased levels of depression.
Aside from all of the scientific studies, who doesn’t feel better after a good massage? It frees your body of stress, increases your flexibility, and just provides an overall feeling of wellness.
Acupuncture is another interesting treatment option . During acupuncture, the acupuncturist inserts needles that it is believed activate natural painkillers in the body. Ancestral medicine claims that the benefits of acupuncture occur by breaking up energy blocks in the body and correcting organ imbalances. A study conducted in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine determined that acupuncture was as effective as Prozac in decreasing depression symptoms.
Another interesting aspect of acupuncture is that if an individual uses acupuncture as a treatment, they will not experience the negative sexual side effects that often occur with modern antidepressants. Acupuncture is also a great natural treatment for pregnant women who are feeling depressed. Women who are pregnant obviously cannot take psychoactive substances, so acupuncture is a promising natural alternative for treating them.
If you feel depressed, make sure that you consult with your physician or psychologist before undertaking any of the treatments we outlined above. Try to keep in mind that there are plenty of common sense methods for boosting your mood state. These include sleeping well, donating your time to a charity, avoiding stressful events, eating well, working with a support system like a family, and having a general purpose to your life.