If you are anything like me, you probably haven’t had much luck with medication to treat your depression. Sure, the side effects happen, but the actual intent of the medication (to treat depression) never really worked for you.
Fortunately, medication is not the only answer when it comes to treating depression. And it shouldn’t be the only answer, even if the medication is actually working for you. The medication was never meant as a magic pill, it was meant to help alleviate some of your depression symptoms so that you could get on top of it using several other strategies and lifestyle changes.
This post will share some of the best ways I know for how to treat depression without meds. Read right through to the end where I will reveal my number one resource for treating depression without medication. It is the one thing that actually worked for my depression when all of the medication didn’t.
Exercise For Depression
Do you need to become a hardcore, 7 day per week gym junkie? Absolutely not. In fact, you don’t even need to sign up to any expensive gym classes or memberships. All you need to start improving your depression symptoms is a good pair of walking shoes.
It is a proven fact that exercise can improve your mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and stress if done regularly. In fact, research has shown that in just 5 minutes of exercising you will start to feel its positive effects on your mood. Endorphins are released when you exercise, and these have a mood boosting effect and help you to feel good.
Exercise can also help to improve your memory function and alertness. There is an area of the brain called the hippocampus (seriously, who names these things?) that boosts memory function and learning. There has been research that has found that exercising regularly can boost the size of the hippocampus (ok, I’m starting to love that word!) which leads to better memory and sharper thinking.
The added benefits of exercise for depression are that you will have more energy, sleep better, will help you to maintain a healthy weight and give you a sense of accomplishment and achievement.
So what exercise do I need to do I hear you ask? It’s really quite simple, just go for a 30 minute walk every day, or as often as you can. You don’t need to set any speed records during this walk, you just need to keep a brisk pace. The best part about using exercise to treat depression is that it doesn’t need to cost you anything, so it has an advantage over medication right away. If you would like to know more about exercising for depression, then read this post about 7 benefits of exercise for mental health.
If you are struggling to find the motivation and energy to start turning things around with exercise, then you can read this post on how to find the motivation to exercise when depressed.
Diet For Depression
Did you know that it is possible to achieve total remission from depression just by changing your diet? I was surprised to learn this myself, but it is true and there was a study to prove it. Even for many people in the study who didn’t achieve total remission, they did experience a significant reduction in their depression symptoms. All of this just from changing your diet. Doesn’t sound hard to do, and combined with exercise as mentioned above, you have a great way to treat depression without meds just using 2 simple methods.
I won’t go into a lengthy post about all of the foods you should be eating and avoiding, but I have made a previous post on 12 foods for depression and 7 to avoid which you can read by clicking here. You can combine these healthier eating habits with the use of supplements for depression. I have made a list of 14 different supplements that are great for fighting depression which you can read about by clicking here.
Psychological Treatment For Depression
Following the advice above you are now feeling super fit and super healthy, so what are some other things we can do that directly impact the way we sometimes think and feel when we have depression?
The two easiest and most effective methods I know of are by using cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and acceptance commitment therapy (ACT). Most people have heard about CBT, but I will do my best to explain it for those that haven’t heard of it.
CBT basically helps you to think about your feelings and various situations in a different way to what you are automatically doing. Often, we put on our negative glasses when we view situations or process our feelings, and CBT helps us to challenge that way of thinking and replace those negative and limiting thoughts with much more healthy and constructive ways to think.
It really works well, and there has been plenty of research to back that up. It can be hard to do at first as the new way of thinking does not come naturally…yet. When you practice CBT consistently you will find that this new and better way of thinking will start to come more naturally and it will get easier and easier to implement as you start to see results and as you practice it more. Towards the end of this post I will share how I used CBT to get on top of my depression and will also reveal the source I used to help get me there.
The second psychological treatment for depression that I want to mention here is ACT. ACT is similar to CBT in that it changes the way you think and the way you see the world around you. ACT isn’t as well known as CBT, but it is definitely a proven method for treating depression without meds.
ACT is a mindfulness based approach to your thinking. It teaches you to accept things as they are without letting them control or overwhelm you. You will learn to simply let the negative thoughts in rather than fighting them, and then let them pass on their own without having had too much impact on you.
ACT will also teach you to be more present (being present is mindfulness) and make decisions that are in line with your values, rather than reacting to every situation based on your emotions. All in all, you will be much calmer and thoughtful when applying ACT.
I have successfully used both ACT and CBT to treat my depression. It gave me better success than any medication ever did, and as long as I keep practicing it I will continue to see the benefits to my mental health.
My preferred resource for ACT is a book called The Happiness Trap. The author is a leading expert on all things ACT and has written several books on it. The Happiness Trap was the first book he wrote on it and is the ideal starting point for learning how to incorporate ACT into your mental health treatment.
Mindfulness for depression
Mindfulness is a great way to improve your mental health, whether you are suffering from depression or not. Studies have proven that it is a very effective way of treating depression and improving overall mental health and wellbeing.
The best part about mindfulness is that you can practice it at any time and any place. Mindfulness is simply the art of being present, both with the things going on around us and also with our thoughts and feelings. Often we feel very relaxed after practicing mindful meditation.
One way to begin with mindfulness is to do a basic body check. You start by laying down somewhere comfortable and close your eyes. First, you focus on your feet and what feelings and sensations you have in your feet. Then you work your way up your legs, stopping along the way to notice the sensations you are having in your legs. You continue to do this all the way up to the top of your head. Afterwards, it is likely that your mind will be completely switched on to the present and not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. As mentioned, you may feel calm and relaxed afterward. This can be done as often and as many times as you like, the more the better.
There are plenty of other ways to practice mindfulness, some of which I have gone into detail about on this post called a beginners guide to mindfulness.
How To Treat Depression Without Meds
As I alluded to earlier, I am going to reveal my number one resource for treating depression without meds. It is a course called Destroy Depression. It gives you 7 steps to follow to get on top of your depression and it also has a large section dedicated to CBT. Using this course I was able to make a few changes to what I was doing each day and incorporate CBT into my thinking and I finally (after over 10 years and countless medications) got on top of my depression. I still have the occasional bad day, but they are nothing like they were when I was severely depressed.
The best part about this course is that there are no side effects and anyone can get started using the methods straight away. It is also a lot cheaper than being on medication and it is a one time fee. It is also backed by a 60 day money back guarantee, but if you use what you learn in the course I doubt that you will ever have need to claim a refund. You can use the link below to learn more about Destroy Depression.
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