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Ten ways to tackle depression without drugs

It really is vital to view antidepressants as the last resort, so please, before you reach for those meds in desperation, consider some, if not all, of these alternative treatments first:

1.Practise mindfulness

When you’re depressed, negative thoughts pour into your mind like water from a broken dam. You can become paralysed by fear and helplessness, because you feel like nothing can keep those thoughts under control. Nothing – except meditation. I know this has become the in-thing to talk about these days, and it’s not necessarily for everyone, however, in group work, I’ve found mindfulness meditation very beneficial for many clients because it helps slow down the racing mind. You are purposefully limiting your attention to the present moment, which helps you see things in a different, and more positive, light. So, the next time you feel like beating yourself up again, take out a comfortable mat, sit on it in a lotus position and consider saying, “ohm”!!


Ok, so maybe being an almost-Buddhist isn’t your thing. Maybe you’d rather do something that lifts your spirits within seconds, rather than practise something that takes several weeks to work. In which case, subject yourself to funny TV shows/movies/books etc. As it turns out, we all know that laughter is the best medicine. It doesn’t matter if the thing that makes you laugh is childish, stupid or weird. Just have yourself a belly-aching time to release some serotonin into your blood stream – what matters is that you get your daily recommended dose of hilarity!

3.Don’t isolate yourself

Depression is a manipulative and malicious little monster. Every day, it sits on your shoulder, and whispers in your ear about how worthless you are and how you don’t deserve to be anywhere near the rest of society. Don’t listen to it! In depression, social isolation typically serves to worsen the illness and how we feel. Totally withdrawing from social interactions increases the brain’s stress responses. So, keep in touch with the people who really matter to you, and don’t hesitate to let them know if you need their help, however hard this may be.

4.Cut toxic people out of your life

On the flip side, you’re not doing yourself any favours by hanging out with people who dismiss your depression as something you need to snap out of! That makes about as much sense as mentally shrinking your rogue cells when you have cancer, or draining your blood sugar levels when you have diabetes! Part of living with depression requires you to learn how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones, so having people in your life who are affirmative, nurturing and accepting of who you are, will help to ground you in a better healing environment.

5.Be careful with self-medication

Great care is required when it comes to anything containing cannabis or psilocybin. Whilst these may have been found to possess certain antidepressant properties, they are also known to have the potential to worsen mental illness. Take advice from only reputable sources: www.cbdbrothers.com

6.Eat the Right Foods

We’ve heard how vitamin D can alleviate depression, dementia and diabetes, but there are also other nutrients that keep depression at bay, including amino acids, folate, iodine, iron, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin B complex and zinc. Thankfully, many of these nutrients are in the foods you eat every day. As for the foods you shouldn’t eat every day, avoid alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, processed food, refined sugars and sodium-rich foods. All these can wreak havoc on your nervous system, destabilise your blood sugar levels and even damage the brain among other organs.

7.Consider Acupuncture

According to a recent study in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, acupuncture can also help alleviate depression. When the researchers administered depression-specific acupuncture on 150 pregnant women, 63% saw their symptoms improve. Although more tests have yet to be conducted to arrive at a definite conclusion, there is no denying the promise shown in this study. Even if you’re not expecting, you may find some benefit from acupuncture!

8.Get Up and About

To be fair, depression does sap you of every bit of energy left in your body. However, exercise is definitely worth a go, if it’s zapping you want as opposed to sapping! It has been proven to work just as well as, if not better than, antidepressants. No one knows exactly why this is, although the release of endorphins and norepinephrine during exercise might have something to do with it.

9.Grow a Garden

It’s been proven that gardeners are generally happier than non-gardeners. Forgive the pun, but I suppose you are literally reaping what you sow and bringing out all those positive feelings buried deep inside you! You also have the benefit of harvesting fresh, uncontaminated vegetables right in your own backyard! But don’t fret if gardening isn’t your thing. As long as your new hobby of choice is both meaningful and relaxing for you, it doesn’t matter what it is or what anyone else thinks.

10.Volunteer for a Cause You Believe in

At some point, talking about depression with the people you already know won’t be enough. You’re going to want to reach out of your established social circle and seek out the company of others. That’s a good sign. Seek out an organisation, such as Sane or Mind, whose mission speaks to you, and volunteer your services for them. Who knows, you might reduce your depression symptoms, boost your well-being, and even reduce your risk of dying by 22 percent!

Bonus: Just Don’t Give In!

Here’s the thing about depression: you might indeed have to go on tackling it for the rest of your life. That’s because it has this nasty habit of sneaking up on you and kicking you in the teeth just when you’re least expecting it. That said, by giving these tips a really proper go, you’ll find yourself coping better with the dark, descending clouds simply because you’ll have given it a massive kick right back!

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