A lot of common treatments for depression include prescription antidepressant medications, which help balance neurotransmitters in the brain that affect emotions and mood. In addition to medications, there is a wide range of psychological treatments for depression. Psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and interpersonal therapy are just some of the most common methods used for treating the condition.
Most people with depression rely on antidepressants to manage their conditions due to the notion that these drugs work in 70 percent of depressed patients. However, that notion has been challenged by new medical studies which found that symptom reduction was only about 40% with antidepressants. This study by the World Psychiatric Association also found that people who take antidepressants have a high relapse rate, as opposed to patients who take placebo and experience symptom reduction without relapse for six months or longer.
If you have depression but are hesitant to go the medical route for fear of the side effects of certain antidepressant medication, you might feel like there is very little you can do to manage your mental health challenges.
Luckily, there are a number of natural remedies that can help reduce depressive symptoms.
Of course, you should always consult with your doctor regarding your condition and the treatment options available for you, and whether or not you should seek mental health services.
But once you get your doctor’s approval, then you may want to consider these recommendations for managing anxiety and depression without medication:
Sleep problems are common in people with depression and anxiety. Although sleep alone cannot cause these conditions, they do play a crucial role in making the problems worse. As such, one of the ways to manage depression is to have the sleep disorder treated. One treatment option for sleep disorders such as insomnia is to seek cognitive behavior therapy. This type of therapy focuses on teaching patients healthy sleep patterns. The therapy involves the following:
- Sleep Restriction
This method teaches people to limit the time they spend in bed, and to use the bed only for sleeping. For example, if you only sleep for five hours each night, your initial limit will be the same: five hours. So if you find that you spend a total of eight hours in bed, but only get to sleep for five hours, then you will need to get out of bed every time you are unable to sleep.
This sleep restriction method may make you feel more tired initially, but it will help you feel asleep faster in the long run.
- Stimulus control
This method helps you establish a regular wake-up and sleep time by removing factors that cause your mind to resist sleep. As part of the instructions for this method, you will need to follow the following guidelines:
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy – this point is important because it prevents you from engaging in negative thoughts while lying in bed. Worries about what tomorrow brings, things you need to accomplish immediately, and decisions you have to make can all create arousal and make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Note: Being sleepy is different from being tired, and the recommendation is to go to bed only when you are sleepy. Once you feel your eyelids drooping, and you find yourself yawning and involuntary nodding your head, then it may be time to hit the bed.
- If you are unable to sleep after 20 minutes, leave the bed and go to another room. Once there, engage in relaxing activities such as reading a book, listening to relaxing music, and writing on your journal. Once you feel drowsy, you can return to bed and repeat the steps as often as needed.
- Avoid napping – to maintain a normal sleep schedule, avoid taking naps throughout the day.
Depression can sap your energy and motivation, so hitting the gym may be the last thing on your mind. Although getting out of bed and going for a walk is not the easiest thing to do, it’s well worth pushing yourself.
Research has shown that exercise does not only bring physical benefits, but psychological benefits as well. When you engage in physical activities, your brain releases feel-good endorphins that help fight stress.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Do 30-minute exercises five times a week. You can jog, bike, walk, or even dance to get your body moving
- Aim for daily consistency with your exercises. It is better to engage in modest physical activities each day than wait for the weekend to do intense workouts
- Start slowly and progress gradually with your exercise program
Meditation is one of the best methods to treat depression. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that meditation can help improve symptoms of mental disorders including depression and anxiety. When you meditate, you become aware of what is happening in your surroundings, and discover deep-seated emotions such as stress, worry, anxiety, and anger. Once you are aware of your emotions, and your flaws and strengths, you then start to have a better understanding of yourself.
Regular meditation helps you control unwanted thoughts and allows you to reach an inner calm. This is especially helpful for people with anxiety who have a consistent stream of negative thoughts running through their minds.
To start your meditation, you can do the following:
- Go to a peaceful place where you can focus on the task. Make sure to choose an environment that is free from distractions. If you are doing the meditation at home, turn off your phone and the TV sets to minimize distractions.
- Wear clothes that will allow you to move freely, and make sure to take off your shoes
- If you are a beginner at meditation, start by doing the practice five minutes a day. Regardless of how long you want to meditate, the important thing to remember is to make it a part of your daily routine.
- Do some stretching to release any tension before you begin
- Sit in a comfortable position – you can sit in a lotus or half-lotus position depending on your body’s flexibility. Just remember to find a position that allows you to sit with a straight posture and balanced posture.
- Close your eyes, follow your breathing, and clear your mind
Lastly, do not be afraid to reach out to family and friends for support, and do not forget to nurture your well-being including your mind and body, your environment, and your relationships.
Have you or a loved one used natural remedies to manage depression or anxiety?
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