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St. John's Wort, acupuncture, massage, yoga and biofeedback have gained popularity in recent years, as alternatives for treating depression.
Some scientific studies found that St. John's Wort proved to be effective for mild depression, but it was no more effective than a placebo when treating major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Family Physician and Integrative Health Specialist Dr. Joe Mercola suggests some natural remedies for depression. Watch Dr. Mercola's video for tips on overall health and wellness.
Watch as Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist Dr. Peter Bongiorno suggests some natural treatments for depression.
Some natural treatments for depression include good sleep hygiene, exercise, social support, breathing/meditation and some herbal supplements. In this video, I will share my favorite natural solutions for depression.
Art therapy: Art therapy enables the expression of inner thoughts or feelings when verbalization is difficult or not possible. It involves the application of a variety of art modalities including drawing, painting, clay and sculpture. Art therapy may be an effective intervention for hospitalized, suicidal adolescents. There is evidence that it can be used to aid in developing a sense of identity and optimism about the future. It may also aid in relaxation and willingness to communicate, and may result in shorter hospitalization. Art therapy may evoke distressing thoughts or feelings. Use under the guidance of a qualified art therapist or other mental health professional. Some forms of art therapy use potentially harmful materials. Only materials known to be safe should be used. Related clean-up materials (like turpentine or mineral spirits) that release potentially toxic fumes should only be used with good ventilation.
Music therapy: There is evidence that music therapy may increase responsiveness to antidepressant medication. In elderly adults with depression, a home-based program of music therapy may have long-lasting effects. In depressed adult women, music therapy may lead to reductions in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and depressed mood. Music therapy is generally known to be safe.
Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is an interactive process between a person and a qualified mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, licensed counselor, or other trained practitioner). A broad range of psychotherapies have been shown to be effective for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, ante- and postpartum depression, and depression in children. Although prescription medication is the most effective treatment for bipolar disorder, psychotherapy may help patients take their medication, prevent relapses, and reduce suicidal behavior.
Yoga: Yoga is an ancient system of relaxation, exercise, and healing with origins in Indian philosophy. Several human studies support the use of yoga for depression in both children and adults. Although this preliminary research is promising, better studies are needed.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
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Antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or combinations of the two represent the most common treatment for depressive illness. However, a variety of self-care approaches also can be used to help alleviate depression. These include:
- light therapy or phototherapy
- massage therapy
Some of these self-care approaches may be used as an adjunct to pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatments, while others are used alone. Scientific evidence supports several nonpharmacological approaches for reduction of depressive symptoms, such as exercise (both aerobic and anaerobic), relaxation techniques and at least one herbal remedy. It is important to consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program. It also is important to inform your doctor about any nutritional supplements or herbs that you are taking so as to avoid harmful drug interactions.
In addition to therapy and medications, traditional or alternative healing methods and self-help techniques are used in many parts of the world to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Many of these methods are currently under study, and include:
- Establishing regular exercise patterns. Exercise can affect the physiological factors that underlie depression, and can increase the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that can make you feel better. Research studies have found regular exercise at a dose level consistent with public health recommendations to be an effective treatment for people with mild to moderate depression.
- Increasing exposure to light is a therapy often used for seasonal affective disorder, or what some call winter depression.
- Nutritional supplements. Studies have shown that daily supplements of vital nutrients can reduce symptoms of depression. For example, supplements that contain amino acids are converted to neurotransmitters that alleviate depression and other mental disorders.
- Relaxation exercises and meditation. Deep relaxation or meditation, a state of concentrated attention on some object of thought or awareness, can also be considered for some of the symptoms of depression, such as difficulty sleeping.
- Acupuncture has been used for depression across many cultures. Research has not proven it to be an effective treatment alone. However, one recent study acknowledged that the research setting of the treatment, as compared to traditional settings, may influence these findings.
Researchers are studying many of these traditional and alternative methods for treating depression. Current studies indicate many may be useful, not alone, but in concert with more conventional treatments. Relying on these methods alone in treating depression is not recommended.
At one time or another, we have all gone to extraordinary – and often unhealthy – lengths to get ourselves out of a funk. We might overeat. We might drink alcohol. We might lash out at irritating people, all in an attempt to momentarily improve our mood.
I have recently happened upon a much simpler and healthier way to achieve the same goal, and I teach this skill to any client looking for an all-natural, free of cost, quick and easy way to beat the blues.
Whenever I am feeling down, I try to recall a recent positive experience I’ve had in a store, a restaurant, a doctor’s office, or a repair shop, and I call the manager to report on the great service that a specific employee provided. I’ve found that most managers are shocked to receive calls like these, as they are much more accustomed to customers complaining about bad service. Further, on many occasions, the manager tells me that the employee will be formally recognized or rewarded in a meaningful way. Suddenly, everyone’s a winner -- the manager feels proud, the employee gets much-deserved kudos, and I feel good about putting this happy chain of events into motion.
Next time you find yourself in a slump, try this for yourself. Imagine how much happier our society would be if we focused less on the ways in which people disappointment us and more on the simple acts of good that occur everyday around each of us.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.