Non-drug non-supplement ways to treat depression - Aspire Natural Health

Non-drug non-supplement ways to treat depression

2882358170 f0e6ae5806 z - Non-drug non-supplement ways to treat depression

UPDATE: I’ve made a couple of quick updates to this article in response to some of the critiques I’ve been hearing.

Please don’t take anything written in this article to say that you should not take drugs or use supplement therapies to address depression if you want to use them or need to use them.

Drugs can be a useful stepping stone to help someone resolve or manage their depression. They can also be a huge roadblock, so use them appropriately.

This article was written to offer several non-drug, non-supplement options for the treatment of mild to moderate depression for those seeking options besides drugs or supplements.


Depression is a tough thing, and can range from minor ‘blahs’ to major ‘I can’t get out of bed and I want to kill myself.’

So let’s be clear, while I’m not a major fan of anti-depressant drugs, as I don’t think they work all that well and they have side effects, if you have major depression, the ‘I can’t get out of bed and I want to kill myself’ you NEED some drugs. Maybe not forever, and I certainly think things could be drastically improved by adding natural medicine therapies to a drug regimen, but it’s not time to mess around.

Mild to moderate depression is where the anti-depressant drugs are especially poorly effective. Often in trials they barely beat placebo (that is the power of the mind alone, no drugs) plus you get side effects. So let’s put the drugs aside for a minute.

There are a lot of supplements out there that can be put together intelligently that really help depression. If you’ve had depression for a while and have been consulting with Dr. Google you’ve heard about a lot of them: Tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, Tyrosine, and a whole bunch of others. Let’s set those aside for a minute too and talk about non-drug, non-supplement ways to help depression.

Step 1

Evaluate whether your depression situational? That means are you depressed for perfectly reasonable reasons?

  • Did a loved one die or leave?
    • Such as a parent or
    • A spouse
    • Family member
    • Beloved pet
  • Does someone you love have terminal cancer?
  • Did you lose your job?
  • Are you in a dead-end job you hate?
  • Are you in an unhappy relationship/marriage?
  • Does your life just generally suck?
  • Etc.

If so, being depressed is normal. You SHOULD be depressed.

You don’t need an anti-depressant, you need to deal with the situation.

Go through the stages, and grieve for your loss. Find a new job. Get divorced. Move. Figure out why you hate your life and change it.

This is much easier said than done, but ultimately this will ‘cure’ your depression.

This will take some time, it will be hard.

But taking supplements and drugs may help but won’t address the real reason you’re depressed.

Get help. See a counselor. Turn to trusted friends. Do what you need to do.

Step 2

So, maybe it’s not situational.

As one patient recently told me, ‘I’ve just been kind of depressed my whole life, ever since I can remember. I have a good job, a good relationship, my life is pretty good, but I’m still just kinda ‘blah”.

So, not much situational here, and while some introspection (thinking about ones life) can still be very helpful in making things better, there’s no obvious reason for this person to be depressed. So we need to do more than just look at the conditions of a persons life.

Or maybe your depression is situational and while you’re working on it you want to do more to help you feel better

Non-drug, non-supplement ways to treat depression

  1. A good diet – avoiding foods that you react to. We have seen the inflammation caused by ‘food allergies’ worsen depression, and getting on a nutritious non-reactive diet significantly help depression and many other mental illnesses. UPDATE – We had a new patient come in today, coincidentally, who had major depression following the birth of her son (post-partum depression).  She went on several drugs, which helped, but after removing her food ‘allergies’ she felt so much better that she was able to wean off the drugs over a period of several months.  An awesome story!
  2. Exercise – studies have consistently shown that exercise is as good as anti-depressants. Often you don’t feel like exercising, so figure out a way to roll yourself out the door and get some exercise. Ideally more vigorous exercise, but anything you can do will help.
  3. Meditation – this does not have to be a religious or spiritual practice. If you have no idea where to start I recommend The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson. Meditation can help us get behind and detach from the negative self-talk that can be such a big part of depression.
  4. Volunteer work – one of the best ways you can make yourself feel better is to help someone else. So find a cause you’re believe in, preferably one that involves other people and volunteer. You’ll be helping yourself and helping the world at the same time. Talk about win-win.
  5.  UPDATED – Counseling my intent in writing this article was to offer people therapies that they could do themselves without having to get a health professional involved, so I did not include any of the wide variety of counseling therapies when I first wrote it. However, I do think counseling is a wonderful non-drug, non-supplement therapy to address depression and I do recommend it regularly.

So to sum up. Should you be depressed? If so, take the hard steps of changing the reasons for your depression. And if not, or while you’re dealing with it, use a good diet, exercise, meditation and volunteer work to feel better. And THEN if you still need more (and you might) supplements and drugs are there to help.


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