The FDA has endorsed more than 25 drugs for the treatment of depression. There is evidence of the effectiveness of these medications. However, experts also promote psychotherapy and non-medical approaches in the treatment and management of depression.
How to Manage Depression at Home, Naturally
Every year, about 30 million Americans get anti-depressant prescriptions for depression. Unfortunately, because of the single-focus nature of this therapy, many patients stop taking the medication prematurely or fail to follow up with their care providers.
The discouraging side effects of depression medication include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of sexual oomph
- Dry mouth and constipation
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Drowsiness and blurred vision
Further, not every patient gets access to evidence-based clinical therapies for depression. Others continue taking ineffective dosages and drugs because of the lack of personalized pharmacological treatment approaches. As a result, only 20 – 40 % of patients on these treatment plans show substantial improvement.
Can You Control Depression without Anti-depressants
The answer is yes. A great many people don’t realize that you can manage depression at home, drug-free. Even if you use antidepressants, combining that with natural management approaches can improve results.
You can entirely rely on natural care and management approaches to living happily with depression. By making a few life changes at home, the symptoms may diminish greatly or entirely. Below are ways to manage depression at home:
The first approach to managing depression is making diet changes. Studies show that people who eat lots of red meat, sugars, high-fat dairy items, and fried items had the most severe symptoms of depression.
This confirms the idea that a healthy diet, consisting of more fruits and vegetables, can improve mental health. Sugar and fat may be tasty, but they are not good for your emotional wellness.
It’s a smart move to avoid a lot of fat and sugar if you have depression. As you remove sugar and fat from your diet, replace them with nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables flush out free radicals from your body. They consequentially reduce stress and anxiety.
The Mediterranean diet can be good to explore. The diet incorporates entire grains, fish, vegetables, natural products, berries, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Studies have shown that it does help to reduce the symptoms of depression.
Physical exercise is also an effective measure against depression. Research shows that the effects of regular workouts among patients with depression mimic the results of antidepressants and psychotherapy.
Working out can keep you centered and reduce stress levels. It activates your body to produce feel-good hormones called endorphins. These can uplift your mood and help you get out of bed the next day.
You can stretch, or you can stroll. You can lift some weights or even run on the treadmill. Anything that engages your mind and body and gets your heart pumping is good for managing depression. Whatever exercise you do, gentle reader, do it for 30-40 minutes. Do it 3-4 times a week.
Working out through depression can be hard. We recognize that. Take it slow for a start and let your body get accustomed to the exertion. A ten-minute walk on the first day is a big accomplishment, and it can get you in a major positive mood.
Make it a 15-minute jog the next day and keep improving for consistent production of dopamine and serotonin—the other feel-good hormones—to reduce anxiety and irritability and improve mood. Exercise will also improve your strength and help you sleep better at night.
Another thing that can help you live happily is meditation. In this meditative state, you become more centered and depressive thoughts disappear for a while. When you meditate frequently, you will eventually develop the ability to stay calm and control your thoughts throughout the day.
During meditation, you direct your focus on the present moment. You breathe deeply from your belly. This attention and controlled breathing, experts say, can significantly calm you and reduce irritability, anger, fear, and worry.
Mindfulness gives you back control. In a normal depressive state, negative thoughts automatically enter your mind. Mindfulness means you are aware. You will know the thought before it forms. You will know that it is not real, and so your hormones will not respond. The result is a stable mood and reduced dark feelings.
Brain scans show that 10 minutes a day of meditation is impactful. The scans show that mindfulness can change the way you perceive things in life. When you are sad for example, you accept being sad without your mind going overboard with the thoughts of “why,” “what is wrong with me,” “how can I fix this.”
Sleep is another solution that can decrease depressive symptoms. You will wake up in a much better mood if you sleep well. According to recent sleep research, sleep is an effective overnight therapy that can make one better at handling negative emotions.
90% of people with depression struggle to seep. While some depressed people can sleep for hours and hours, many others don’t manage to sleep a wink.
Poor sleep worsens depression. It makes you tired and holds you hostage in a bad mood the next day. Luckily, improving your sleep habits can significantly alleviate these symptoms of depression. Best of all, this approach to treating depression is comfortable and drug-free.
Ways to sleep better if you struggle with depression:
- Create a bedtime routine that you can stick to
- Take a hot bad shortly before bed to help you sleep through the night.
- Remove TVs and laptops from your bedroom.
Acceptance and commitment
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that teaches you to ‘just notice’ and accept your thoughts and feelings, especially those unpleasant ones that you might typically avoid. You don’t need to change your thinking or behavior.
ACT believes that it is unwise to try to control or change distressing thoughts and feelings. ACT and mindfulness have many things in common. They are both things that you can practice at home at your leisure and pleasure.
Practicing acceptance and commitment can help you to avoid ‘overthinking’ difficult experiences. Overthinking happens when you focus on the brain chatter in your mind and not the experience itself. The verbal commentary in your mind often makes things look worse than they are. ACT helps you to see clearly by accepting your situation.
Depression can cause you to feel separated from the things you love in life. It additionally can cause exhaustion and sleep problems. Relaxation positively improves mental wellness.
Relaxation strategies to help with depression:
- Listening to calming or uplifting music to help reduce anxiety
Research confirms that listening to good music lowers heart rate and blood pressure. It helps to reduce stress. If you struggle with depression, have a go-to feel-good playlist that includes nature sounds of birds and rivers or upbeat salsa. These can calm and center you or help you vent when you sing along.
- Yoga and breathing exercises
Yoga and breathing exercises help with mindfulness. These routines center you to the present moment and can help tame the wandering and anxious thoughts. You can follow yoga instructions on YouTube and learn breathing techniques that help to reduce stress.
- Positive affirmations and prayer
Prayer works, recent scientific findings confirm so. The psychological benefits of prayer are much like Acceptance and Commitment Therapy at the counselor’s office. Combining that with positive affirmations can put you in a relaxed state of mind.
- Practicing gratitude
When you are depressed, nothing matters except the negative feelings. You may have one hundred positive things happening in your life, but because of depression, you choose to dwell on one negative thing. Practice gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal. Write down everything good in your life in case you forget. Gratitude cancels out negative feelings and worries. It can ease your mind.
- Spending time with family and friend in a nature park
In-person and close contact interaction with family and friends can reduce the symptoms of depression. This strategy helps the mind to worry less. Your loved ones can be a strong pillar of emotional support even as you go live with the condition.
It will be easier and helpful to confide in family and friends how you feel. That can keep you from indulging in drugs and alcohol. These things always worsen the symptoms of depression.
In acupuncture, needles are inserted onto specific areas of the body. The hands are rotated manually or electrically stimulated. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese approach to wellness and stress reduction. Western medicine says the treatment possibly stimulates nerves and leads to the release of serotonin and norepinephrine. These are mood-lifting hormones.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils for stress reduction and emotional healing. Essential oils are concentrated extracts of certain plants. They are diluted in carrier oils and rubbed in the skin, or heated and vaporized into the air.
The pleasant smell can uplift your mood and help to reduce the negative symptoms of depression. The oils’ chemical components could also have drug-like effects that help with relaxation. In a study with no comparison groups, depressed adults that used aromatherapy showed significant improvements.
The plants commonly used in essential oils for aromatherapy include lavender, wild ginger, and bergamot. These oils have the potential to autonomic functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate.
All Options are On the Table
At EZ Care Clinic, we use all approaches in treating depression and other mental conditions. Our doctors can prescribe antidepressants while our psychologists can take you through ACT and CBT. You can also get counseling or an emotional support animal letter from us.
Call San Francisco EZCare Clinic at (415) 966-0848 or schedule an appointment online for well-rounded depression therapies.
Sara Anderson is the head of content for the EzCare clinic, a medical clinic that provides world-class health care services. She has been associated with the health care industry for 10+ years and specializes in health care and medical content.