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Non Medical Treatment for Depression

Published by Nanni on Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photo credit by Amy Messere

If you are depressed, and looking for non medical treatment, it's critical to determine just how down you're feeling. Everyone gets the blues occasionally. You may find yourself feeling depressed after a big event in your life, or down for seemingly no reason. Lost your job? Sure, you feel worried and anxious. The last kid in the nest is leaving for college? Ambivalent feelings, where you’re happy for your child, but depressed for yourself, are common. But when the sad and depressed feelings don’t go away, and you lose interest in your normal daily activities, you may be experiencing clinical depression, called major depressive disorder. Clinical depression treatment is necessary to get better.

Clinical depression is a mental health disorder that causes both emotional and physical symptoms. Depressed people may feel sad and hopeless. They may find themselves breaking down in tears often. Trouble sleeping is common. Some have unexplained physical ailments, such as back pain, headache and weight gain or loss. Depressed people are frequently irritable and restless. They may even have suicidal thoughts.

The best treatment for depression usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication, but non medical treatment for depression can be important. A recent study at the University of Pittsburgh showed that patients who feel that they have a sense of self-control over their illness and treatment show a greater reduction in depression symptoms. Although the studied patients were all under some form of medical care for depression, whether therapy or medication, it was clear that a depressed person’s beliefs and expectations about their illness are significant elements in successful treatment.

Doctors say that exercise is a great natural depression treatment. An aerobic workout or a brisk 30 minute walk that raises your heartbeat can also raise your serotonin level. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain. When your serotonin levels are low, you start feeling depressed. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are anti-depressant medications that work on raising your serotonin level. You may be able to do it naturally with exercise.

Yoga is another form of non medical treatment for depression that often helps, although this exercise doesn’t rely on raising your heartbeat. Instead, yoga focuses on deep breathing and a series of stretches and careful movements. People who swear by yoga say that it balances the mind and body and helps restore a sense of well-being.

Meditation is also often recommended for depression. Meditation is different things to different people. Some like to pray, while others prefer reading self-affirmations and then repeating the affirmations to themselves. For still others, meditation may be listening to a soothing CD and totally relaxing the body muscle by muscle with a process called systematic relaxation, which allows both the body and the mind to relax.

Acupuncture and massage are also self-help depression treatments. For some people, it helps to simply find some alone time, far away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Many people see herbal supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, as natural, non-medical ways of treating depression. But herbal supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so it’s impossible to always be sure of what you’re buying. St. John’s Wort can be dangerous when dosages are high or mixed with other medications. You should always alert your doctor if you are taking St. John’s Wort.

Although the non medical treatments for depression can often help tremendously, doctors are extremely cautious to advise using them as the only treatment. Especially when the depression is ongoing or the person is experiencing suicidal thoughts, it is vital to bring in professionals. Once a treatment plan is designed, it can be extremely helpful to incorporate some non medical ideas.

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