6 Ways to Deal with Depression Without Medication
Living with depression can be incredibly challenging. Although it’s one of the most common mental health conditions, depression can make you feel painfully lonely or isolated. You may struggle to stay in contact with family and friends, or you may find it impossible to engage in your hobbies or complete your daily tasks. No one deserves to live like this, but fortunately, depression is very treatable. For some people, prescription medication is the answer. Antidepressants can have a dramatic effect on your mood and motivation, and a lot of people have restored their quality of life thanks to these medications. They may not be for everyone, though. If you’d prefer to treat your depression without medication, that’s completely fine. There are plenty of ways to manage the symptoms of your depression without using antidepressants. If after implementing these tools you are still struggling with depression, you can speak with your therapist about scheduling a consultation with a psychiatrist.
Remember that everyone’s experience with depression is different and that everyone will find different strategies that work for them. Depression can make it hard to do new activities or add steps to your daily routine, so it’s best to start with small and attainable changes. Be compassionate with yourself, and never be afraid to reach out for help when your depression becomes too much to manage on your own.
Here Are Six Ways to Deal with Depression Without Medication
1. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is closely linked to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. When you don’t get enough rest, your mind isn’t as prepared to handle stress or frustration. The negative thoughts can start to creep in, and before you know it, your depression has overpowered your brain.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep on time or staying asleep throughout the night, there are some steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene. Try to follow the same routine every day, even on the weekends. An hour before bedtime, do your best to avoid screens as this type of light can affect your natural sleep cycle. If you’re a light sleeper, use blackout curtains to block out light and sounds, or use a fan to create white noise.
When you’re struggling with depression, exercising is probably the last thing you want to do. If you’re finding it tough to get out of bed, how do you find the motivation to work out?
Research has shown the link between exercise and good mental health time and time again. However, you don’t have to run a 5K every day or take intense workout classes to feel these benefits for your depression. To manage your depression without medication, try to move your body as much as possible without overwhelming yourself. Walk to your mailbox and back in the morning, or do some stretching before you go to bed.
Anything you can do to get some more movement in your day can help with your depression symptoms. Over time, these actions will become habitual, and it will feel easier to increase your activity level even more.
3. Supplement Vitamin D
A major percentage of the population in the U.S. is deficient in vitamin D, and this vitamin might play a role in depression. Your body synthesizes vitamin D when you’re in the sunlight. It’s difficult for most people to spend enough time in the sun to get adequate vitamin D, though, especially if your depression symptoms keep you at home most of the time. Another option is to take vitamin D supplements.
Different experts may give you different opinions on how effective vitamin D supplements are for depression and other mental health conditions. Many people have reported that their depression symptoms improved once they started taking supplements, so it may be worth asking your doctor. You should always consult a professional before starting a new supplement as some vitamins may have side effects if taken in too large of a dose.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation can be a great way to check in with yourself, clear your mind, and cope with your depression. The goal of mindfulness is to focus only on your thoughts, feelings, and sensations during the current moment. Almost everyone has a habit of dwelling on past events or worrying about the future, but mindfulness helps us live in the present moment.
You don’t need any special equipment or materials to use mindfulness as a depression treatment. All you have to do is find a quiet and comfortable environment and give yourself five minutes to focus on your breathing. Allow your thoughts to float through your head like they’re on a conveyor belt. Notice them as they pass and then let them disappear.
The more you practice mindfulness meditation, the easier it will become to apply this way of thinking to your day-to-day life. This can be one of the most effective ways to deal with depression without medication, as it’s accessible to everyone at any time.
5. Make Time for Friends
Social isolation is very common among people struggling with depression. You might not have enough energy to hang out with friends, or your depression might make you think that your family doesn’t want to see you. Quality time with loved ones is a great way to combat the symptoms of depression naturally, though.
Try to find opportunities to spend time with friends or family that feel comfortable to you. If you’re not up for a large get together with your entire family, invite one person over to watch a movie. If spending a whole day with friends sounds overwhelming, ask them to meet up for an hour over a cup of coffee. You could even text or call a friend if you don’t want to meet face-to-face. For many of those diagnosed with depression, planning the get-together is the hardest part. When you actually get to see your close friends or relatives, it can do wonders to lift your mood.
6. Speak With a Counselor
Clinical depression can be tough to manage on your own. If your low mood, lack of energy, or other depression symptoms are getting in the way of you enjoying life, professional help may be your best option.
Therapy for depression is very effective for many people who deal with the disorder. Depression is often caused or worsened by negative thinking patterns, but it is possible to break these habits with the help of a counselor. During therapy, you’ll explore your beliefs about yourself and the world, and you’ll learn how to identify unhealthy thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
If you’re diagnosed with depression, you understand how much the condition can affect your life. You don’t have to let depression control you, though. Self care, lifestyle changes, counseling can all help to reduce the symptoms of your depression and help you find health and happiness.
Menachem Psychotherapy Group offers counseling for depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. To learn more about our practice or to connect with a therapist in Los Angeles, reach out to us today.