So, I have depression, and yes, I use medication. I currently take Prozac and Effexor to manage my depression and anxiety (Dysthymia).
That being said, medication only does so much. I have to remain ever vigilant and mindful of my thoughts, actions, and feelings. I often fail at this, but I’m learning great coping skills to help with treating depression naturally in my day to day life.
I would like to, one day, not rely on medication. However, I know this may never happen, and I think I’m okay with this…so long as I have insurance and am able to afford my prescriptions.
Many are not as fortunate.
So whether you’re just interested in treating depression naturally because you prefer not to take pills or you have a hard time affording medications and psychiatric treatment, this is for you.
1. Challenge Negative Thoughts & Depression – Personify depression and remember that “Depression is a Damned Liar!” Treat depression as if it were a person in front of you telling you all these bad things about yourself. Then, dismiss Depression as the biggest ass hole you’ve ever met and don’t want in your life.
How this has helped me: I can just tell depression to shut the hell up. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get to this point, but it helps to just confront my depression head on and say, “Enough is enough.” This, alone, can often snap me right out of a downward spiral of self-loathing.
2. Do the stuff you enjoy…even if you don’t feel like it, or, rather, especially if you don’t feel like it. Do you usually love to hang with friends and play pool or go bowling, but you feel so down in the dumps that you just don’t “feel like it”? Go anyway! Did you used to play an instrument, paint, draw, write, blog, read…on a daily or weekly basis but haven’t because you feel down and just don’t “feel like it”? Do it anyway! Keep doing the things you usually love to do, even if you aren’t getting pleasure from it like you used to. The pleasure will return in time.
How this has helped me: Having this blog keeps me motivated to keep writing. Even when I don’t really feel motivated to write anything, I can still work on my blog because I don’t want it to fail. I have brought it so far, I don’t want it to go to waste. So even when I don’t feel like writing, I still work on my blog by promoting, reading useful health articles and commenting on them, Tweeting and Facebooking, and chatting with people who suffer from the many ailments that I do. When I’m doing horribly, I will watch a health documentary so that, when I feel better, I have new content to share with my readers. Writing is a passion of mine that I neglected for so long, and my blog keeps me going.
3. Stay Physically Active. No, I don’t mean go running for a mile every morning, but if you’re going to successfully treat depression without medication, you need some form of exercise. Commit to a routine. Go for a walk every day, do some pilates or yoga, take a class or buy a DVD (there are exercise programs that are streaming on Netflix), or just get on the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be expensive, elaborate or grueling; you just need to get off your butt and move! Oh, and GET OUTSIDE for some sunshine and fresh air!
How this has helped me: When I exercise, I feel better. I don’t have an exercise routine, so I still have some work to do here, but when I get some physical activity, even if it’s just an evening walk with my family, I feel so much better.
4. Spend time with people who care about you and can help you. It’s often hard to be around people when we feel depressed, but it’s often just what we need. If you want to beat depression without medication, you need human contact, even when you’re at your worst. Find friends and loved ones who understand how you can be at your worst and still accept you.
How this has helped me: I have become very open with my closest friends about my feelings, emotions, depression, anxiety and treatment. I will sometimes show up to play-dates with my kids and say, “I’m not myself today, so if I seem distant or short, don’t take it personally.” They understand what this means, and they can usually pull me out of my funk just by having a conversation about our mutual motherhood woes. It’s amazing what a little venting session with the gals can do for me and my sanity. It’s especially helpful when I hear someone else saying the things that I’m thinking, because they are dealing with the same worries and life stress. It helps me to know that I’m not alone. None of us are.
5. Practice relaxation techniques. For me, meditation is a waste of time, but for others, it’s helpful. Pick what’s right for you. Does yoga calm your nerves? Do that more often. Do you relax having a hot cup of coffee? Have a cup. Can you beat depression without medication by reading a good book curled under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa? Go for it! Whatever helps you relax, do it. Oh, and take a few deep breaths. It’s amazing what this does for the nerves.
How this has helped me: Just a few deep breaths can be enough to do the trick. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s getting more oxygen to my vital organs, nourishing my brain, lungs and heart. It calms me down quite a bit. A cup of coffee and a good TV show or movie can make all the difference for me as well. If I’m not going to function anyway, I might as well do something that will help me relax, and afterward, I’m ready to take on my day.
6. Eat healthier foods. This one is the hardest for me, but it’s essential. If your body and brain don’t have the right nourishment, treating depression without medication (or even with medication) is so much harder. Try to eat a balanced meal that includes plenty of fruits & vegetables. Take supplements in addition to a healthier diet. Cut back or eliminate sugar, caffeine, fast food and MSG (monosodium glutamate). If you put good things into your body instead of toxic garbage, your body has the strength to deal with the stress of life. Eat protein at every meal, and take a B-complex supplement. DRINK WATER!
How this has helped me: Less sugar, eliminating refined grains, and taking vitamins and supplements make a huge difference in my life. I take Vitamin C supplements in addition to a multi-vitamin, an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, and other helpful herbs. I still have a lot of work to do regarding a balanced diet, but I’m taking the steps, one at a time, to a healthier lifestyle.
7. Sleep! – 7-8 hours (or more). Without adequate sleep, nothing goes right. You’re tired because you’re stressed, and you’re stressed because you’re tired…and round and round we go! Sleep deprivation can account for a great deal of stress and the lack of coping skills. Getting better than adequate sleep is a major step in treating depression without medication.
How this has helped me: I see a major difference in my emotional disposition when I get more and better sleep. After several days of bad sleep or not enough sleep, I’m a more depression, stressed out and angry person. Treating depression naturally begins with getting good sleep.
8. Give Yourself Permission to Fail. None of the above is an all or nothing! Do your best to help yourself feel better, but don’t allow your inability to keep up with all of the above tips to sink you deeper into your depression. These are ideas to help guide you to self-treatment options. Your inability to follow them to the letter doesn’t mean you are hopeless, worthless or lazy. It makes you human. Make simple goals and take small steps, try not to get overwhelmed. Give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished instead of criticizing yourself for your failures. Take small steps, and you’ll get there.
How this has helped me: I’m still working on this one, but when I forgive myself and cut myself some slack because I can’t “do it all,” I feel much better about myself. Just trust me on this one.
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