Depression Treatment without Drugs: 8 Steps You Can Take

Sigh….Is it an Eeyore -kind of day for you?   For some people, every day is a bit sad.   Some folks report a lifetime of dealing with depressive feelings.     For others, it comes and goes with the seasons or is temporary due to loss and change.

Depression treatment without drugs is the first line of defense against this debilitating condition.

Are You Depressed?

On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the very saddest and 10 being exhilaratingly happy, how are you feeling today?     How would you rate yourself on most days?    Many people report that they would like to know how about depression treatment without drugs.    If your depression is not serious -i.e. not clinical, or endogenous – you may be able to get some relief from applying some common sense solutions to lighten your load.

Depression Treatment without Drugs

  1. EXERCISE:   Most of us now are well aware of the benefits of regular exercise.    Moderate regular exercise (vigorous enough to raise a sweat) raises our level of endorphines and lifts our moods.   We know that….now we just need to get out the door!
  2. SLEEP:  Current studies correlate depression and sleep-deprivation.    If you’re someone who has difficulty with insomnia, you will probably complain that getting more sleep is not a simple change to put into effect.    You’re right!   But it sometimes helps to apply a few common sense solutions that over time can gradually add more rest to your life.    The K-State counseling center gives a good list of sleep strategies that can help provide depression relief without drugs.  Let me know what works for you.
  3. GET UP; GET MOVING; GET OUT:    When you are feeling down do you decide to lie in bed all day?    You’ll probably end up feeling worse.   Instead, get out of bed, shower and dress and get out of your four walls.    That won’t make the problems go away, but will probably make subtle changes in your perspective that will help.
  4. CALL A FRIEND:     Isolation contributes to even more turning inward, rumination and “wallowing”.    Sharing your life with others – even if you don’t feel like ‘dumping’ everything – is a well-known, temporary cure for the blues.
  5. GET A CHECK-UP:   Be sure to rule out medical causes of your depression.     Tell your doctor/naturopath about your depression.    A test may reveal thyroid, blood sugar or other physiological reasons for being ‘down’.
  6. WATCH YOUR SELF-TALK.    One of the major ways of treating depression with or without medication is “cognitive-behavioral’ therapy.    Negative self-talk, ruminating about things you can’t change, harboring anger and bitterness, etc. are all known to cause a dip in our production of endorphines.    It’s an amazing thing to consider that we all make our own “uppers and downers”.      A lifetime of depression can sometimes be traced back to a family system or a personal history of negativity, criticism and hopeless thinking.    It is often referred to as “learned depression”.    Chances are, you started life as a happy baby!
  7. PRAY:   Quietness, prayer, contemplation and/or meditation are ways to help us get in touch with a vital source of peace and help us find meaning and acceptance in the midst of our struggles.    Retreats, worship attendance, confession. – whatever your faith community offers – is a resource that should not be overlooked.
  8. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP:    If you find yourself stuck in a pattern of negative, downward thinking about life or about yourself, consider enlisting a professional to help you find a way to change those habits.      Note:   Serious, life-threatening and pervasive depression – referred to earlier as “clinical” – will require the care of a psychologist or psychiatrist for diagnosis and treatment.

You don’t have to continue to suffer from the dark and sad feelings of depression. Even if you do eventually need medication, these eight ways of depression treatment without drugs will be a good first step on your road to recovery.

Reviewing your past

About those past “unresolved issues“:  A poet and philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th century, George Santayana, is quoted as saying,   “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” If that’s true, then my clients should be heading for better days after a few sessions!

I am not a therapist who starts from “here and now” and moves forward, though laying aside the past is certainly where we want to end up.

My approach is generally to encourage each person to tell their story, starting with their childhood.    Often I use what’s called a ‘genogram’ — diagramming the family tree on my whiteboard and noting the different personality styles, how people related, and what losses they suffered.   Patterns begin to emerge and make sense as we talk about how this might be impacting them in their current life.

This is especially important groundwork for Adult Children of Alcoholics, people recovering from abuse, and those with multiple deaths or losses through divorce.  Though it’s understandable why a person would just like to forget a painful or unpleasant past, taking time to revisit it briefly and thoughtfully in therapy can be surprisingly beneficial.    Out of this, healing can emerge like the phoenix rising from ashes to new life!

Benefits of the Changing Family Landscape

It is now estimated that between 17-20% of homes in America are multi-generational.   Increasingly, several generations opt for the financial, social and emotional support that living together affords.

In some cases, grandparents are helping to raise the next generation by moving in with their adult children.  But sometimes it’s the young adult children, now jobless, who are moving back with their parents.

Perhaps this is a real upside to the politically and financially dark landscape that we are in these days.  We need each other!   A benefit to hard times is that we change our perspectives about the glories of being “self-made” and “self-contained.”   Forget the Lone Ranger!

We’re into extended family and community these days.   So get out the board games and fire up the bar-b.   You don’t need expensive restaurants and entertainment when you have a friend at home.