A Six-Step Plan for Dealing With Depression Without Medication
Many people suffer depression at different times in life. You can suffer from it due to a life event such as a death or breakup. It can also appear from hormonal changes. This mental illness can also show up for no reason at all. It has happened to me for all those reasons at one time or another. Many people turn to their doctors and get medication and maybe therapy too. These can work, and you should especially go that route if your depression is so low you have suicidal thoughts. These medicines had unpleasant side effects on me, and maybe they do on you too. Or perhaps you just do not like taking pills. I don’t. Depression is a condition that can be treated without medication. However, you should have a plan if you are going to help yourself.
1. Stay away from stressful people or situations.
By surrounding yourself with negative people that cause you stress, you will never overcome your depression. You will feed on their negativity, and it could make you worse. If you have a stressful job, you may want to look for something different. Avoid any friends or relatives that seem to drive you nuts and bring you down. Or let them know you are struggling and that you only want positive thoughts coming your way. Real friends will understand and hopefully bring you joy with their conversations and actions.
2. Be sure to get plenty of sleep.
Sleep and depression go hand in hand. Lack of sleep can cause depression, and being depressed can cause insomnia. In either case, seven to eight hours of sleep a night will help ward off depression. Keep a regular sleeping schedule and avoid caffeine or alcohol. If sleep is elusive, try taking a small dose of melatonin. I use a brand called Mid-Nite. It is only 1.5 mg and can be taken in the middle of the night if you wake up and have problems falling back to sleep. The box states to allow yourself at least four hours of sleep after taking a dose. An added benefit is that if you don’t like taking pills, it is chewable, or you can let it melt on your tongue.
3. Stick to an exercise routine.
Many studies have been performed that prove regular exercise can help lessen the effects of depression. I know from experience it can be hard to drum up the energy to exercise when you are feeling down, but it can help with your mood. My personal favorite is to walk, especially if I can take it outside on a beautiful day. The fresh air and sunshine can brighten any mood. Any aerobic exercise or resistance training will help also. You do not even have to spend a lot of time exercising. Some study participants only walked 30 minutes three times a week and showed progress. And you can split that time up into three 10-minute sessions per day if that is easier for you.
4. Eat a diet filled with healthy foods.
Most people know that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy can keep you feeling good. The same goes for warding off depression. Eating a diet rich in fats, sugar, red meat, and processed food can cause depression in certain people, and it will not help lift the fog that it creates. I know I can lose my appetite altogether when depressed. Some people have just the opposite and gorge on junk food. Whichever side you fall on, eat a healthy diet to help yourself see better days.
5. Find a hobby you like.
Take up something that you enjoy doing. If you cannot think of anything off-hand, try a new hobby. Certainly, you can think of something that sounds interesting and enjoyable. Some of my favorites are photography, needlework, and adult coloring books. Photography gets me outside in nature, which can always help my spirits. Needlework is very relaxing for me, as it can be repetitive. I have coloring books with uplifting sayings to brighten up my mood. There are many hobbies to choose. Try playing music if you have the knack, or any art project will do. I also like to write. Keeping a journal about your feelings can help. Keep a gratitude journal to focus on the good things in life. Anything that you enjoy will help you get your spirits up.
6. Stay connected to people.
When in the darkness of depression, you may feel like isolating yourself from the world, but that is not the best way to handle it. Now is when you need the support and comfort of others. You may feel like you do not want to burden others with your feelings, but close friends and family should welcome you to do so. A good listener is the best type of friend at these moments. Someone who will not judge you and rebuke you, but offer you support and comfort you. If you do not feel you have anybody close enough to reach out to, perhaps you can find a support group. Many groups are available for just this reason. Reaching out to others will be far better for your mood than keeping to yourself and your dark thoughts.
It is possible to manage depression without medications. Use the plan above to get rid of your depression symptoms. The above tips have worked for me in different ways. It can be tough to put these into practice when you are feeling low and have no energy, but it is well worth trying. If nothing seems to bring you out of this funk, it may be best to see your primary care physician. They will recommend medication to help you through. Although I did not like them, it may work better for you. Therapy can teach you other tricks that may bring you back to normal without medications. Some therapists specialize in depression and anxiety. Seek one out.
Have you ever suffered through depression?
Craft, Lynette L. and Perna, Frank M. (2004). The Benefit of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
Tello, Monique (2018). Diet and Depression. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.