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