According to the World Health Organization, almost 264 million individuals all over the world are afflicted with depression. Depression is a mood disorder that causes symptoms that can be incredibly debilitating for many people. The severity of the disease can range from mild to severe, with the most common symptoms being a loss of interest in hobbies and activities once enjoyed, feeling persistent sadness, having trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating, and a change in movement or speech. At its most severe, depressive people may harbor thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Although medication is what most people use to cope with depressive symptoms, it’s not the only form of treatment there is. This is especially helpful to know for people who can’t afford to buy prescription medications. There are plenty of natural methods that can help those suffering from depression cope with their symptoms.
The following are some treatment options to consider and discuss with a licensed medical professional that don’t involve medications.
Therapy is the process of speaking with a mental health professional to sort out problems with feelings, behaviors, and thought patterns. Rather than depending on medication, therapists will help the patient build better coping mechanisms and guide them towards more positive thinking patterns. It’s an incredibly effective form of treatment for depression, particularly if the patient is willing and determined to get better. There are different types of counseling available to suit a variety of needs and preferences, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. The most common among them include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and interpersonal therapy.
Exercise can improve mood and significantly reduce feelings of anxiety. This is because physical activity stimulates the release of feel-good endorphins from the brain to relieve pain and stress and trigger feelings of calm and euphoria. A routine of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week (or 30 minutes of exercise a day for 5 days a week) is highly recommended to feel the full benefits of exercise.
Exercise routines don’t have to be complicated. A simple outdoor jog or a fun dance session will suffice, especially if the main goal is to improve mental well-being. It’s important to start small in order to maintain a routine that’ll last, enlisting the help of a friend or family member can also help in terms of motivation.
Anxiety and stress trigger a significant release of cortisol from the brain, which is linked to fear, mood, and motivation. The release of cortisol is a natural response, but too much of it in the body has been observed in people with depression. There are plenty of methods that help with regulating cortisol levels and managing stress. These include mindful meditation, deep breathing exercises, and biofeedback training. Incorporating any of these strategies into one’s daily life can boost one’s mood, reduce anxiety and stress, and help with managing depressive symptoms.
Food can play a role in either exacerbating depressive symptoms or alleviating them. While there isn’t a specific diet that can immediately cure depression, there are certain foods that are just better for someone’s mental and physical health than others. Processed foods with refined sugars, saturated fat, and caffeine can make people feel sluggish, tired, and sick. On the other hand, food that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, soybean oil, etc.), antioxidants (fruit, dark chocolate, green tea, leafy greens, etc.), protein (turkey, chicken, broccoli, Greek yogurt, etc.), and folic acid (peas, oranges, legumes, etc.) have the ability stimulate the production of serotonin in the body and make people feel more energized. ;
Sleep deprivation has a negative effect on cognitive performance, mood, and immune system. Depression can make getting a good night’s rest difficult, but it’s important to try to build a healthy sleep routine to minimize depressive symptoms in the long run. Making sure the bedroom is conducive to sleep, waking up and going to bed at the same hour every day, and eliminating all distractions right before getting some shut-eye can make it much easier to fall asleep.
Volunteering has plenty of surprising mental health benefits that could help people cope with depression and find meaning in their lives. Being in the service of others and connecting with other people can do wonders for one’s mental and physical well-being. Not only does it provide people with a sense of purpose and an outlet for stress and anxiety, but it also helps people improve their communication skills, interpersonal relationships, and in some cases, even career skills.
Prescription medication is certainly effective at helping people cope with depressive symptoms, but it’s not the only kind of remedy for this condition. These natural treatment options are also great alternatives to consider, either as a supplement to medication or as a substitute for it, but only if a medical professional says it is.