This article is intended for those who are looking for alternative depression treatments – instead of the conventional depression treatment of anti-depressants or the help of a traditional therapist.
Both of these common approaches can be effective ways to treat depression for some people. However, many individuals prefer to find or look for an alternative way to treating themselves. You might only want to consider alternative depression treatments without drugs.
As a result of an increasing rate of men and women being diagnosed with depression, there’s also an increase in the use of sophisticated language around describing it, such as chronic, clinical, mild, treatment-resistant, major depression, etc. We’ll be talking about clinical depression treatment but we’re not going to get caught up in these definitions and alternative technical terms here. Instead, we want to start outlining some of the alternatives available to you.
As you’ve probably read elsewhere, the causes of depression can be complex and tremendously varied. There’s an interaction between these factors, yet understanding all of that doesn’t necessarily help you. Also, knowing the cause or medical label of your condition doesn’t necessarily help you solve it.
The best depression treatments may not have anything to do with the cause of your situation. Imagine climbing a tree, then unfortunately, you fall out and break your leg. Your leg is broken and the cause is the fall. However, no matter how much we analyse the fall, it won’t help. What you really need to do is get to the hospital, and that’s the start of the solution.
There are more than enough alternative treatment options for you to choose from. More that you’ll ever need. You probably just aren’t aware of them yet. A common observation is that those who have more options in life tend to be happier. This may be as simple as choosing when to take something to help you, or having a range of alternative treatment techniques at your disposal that you can weave together to create a solution that works for you.
Only you can work out what’s right for you. Your specific depression symptoms will be unique to you and will need a tailored approach to getting rid of them. One-size-fits-all treatments might be useful if you’re lucky. You might want to give them a go, but if they’re not for you don’t give up. There will be a way!
Before getting into the broad areas where you can look for help, we want to put another thought in your mind. Depression, like many other topics, is well serviced by books. Walk into any decent bookshop; go to the self-help section and there’s half a shelf devoted to just about anything you can think of. Imagine standing there looking at the books, wondering which the right one for you is, then thoughts come through your mind. You know with certainty that somewhere out there, is an author creating yet another alternative book on the subject. Well, if the books in front of you actually worked, offering effective treatments, why is anybody writing another?
The reality is it’s rare for a brand new technique to appear. Most books are variations or modifications on the alternative treatments that have gone before. The point that most authors miss is not that their technique is the answer for everyone; it’s that they figured it out for themselves. It’s the process of working out what they need, and that’s the core of their recovery. You will need to discover for yourself what the right way forward is, for you to get the recovery you want.
The emphasis we have at Mindfulness Mavericks is helping you to be better, as quickly and effectively as possible. We’re not about trying to find particular ‘right’ treatments or propose particular methods. That’s because if you’re feeling really down and not living a fulfilled life, chances are you won’t really care about the documented effectiveness of a particular treatment. Unlike scientists, who like to know how effective each specific treatment alternative is, all you’ll probably really want is to feel better quickly.
The strategy here is simple. Do what you can as quickly as possible for you to start feeling better. Try many alternative depression treatments at once if you want to. It doesn’t matter which treatment actually does the job of getting you better, what’s essential is for you to be better and eventually recover. If you want, you can probably figure out what really worked for you later on. However, you might not be bothered with it anymore because chances are; you’ll just be enjoying getting on with a happy life.
One of the most useful things you can do to help yourself is to make sure that you’re getting enough physical movement. For many, extreme inactivity causes depression. Exercise helps keep both your mind and body healthy and works on many levels. You don’t have to start running marathons to get results. Something as simple as a walk in the park or around the block will help your brain and body work better. Or as an alternative take the stairs rather than the elevator.
It’s important that you find the kind of exercise that you find satisfying. Unusual exercise like tai chi, yoga and Pilates all aim to improve both your mind and body. and an alternative Zumba is a form of exercise that stimulates the ‘I’m at a party dancing and having fun’ feeling. Anything that requires you to focus on something other than your problems will help give respite from feeling down and help you move forward.
Alternative treatments are often dismissed as no more than the placebo effect. However the placebo effect has regularly been shown to be a major factor in the treatment of depression. Placebo has become a bad word. In reality, it means ‘the mechanism by which you heal yourself’, and if you can heal yourself, you don’t need others. The only question now is how do we activate the self-healing?
The next thing to be aware of is the quality of thoughts that are going through our minds. In the vast majority of us, bouts of being down and low are preceded by unhelpful thoughts that lead us there. We don’t often recognize these thoughts going on in our minds. They just happen, and then we find ourselves down or depressed. This is where mindfulness and mindful awareness comes in. Being aware of these unhelpful thoughts and then later on being able to let them go or stop them can significantly help in improving our situation. These so-called ‘mindful’ approaches have been shown to be amongst the most successful in preventing past depression sufferers relapsing back into depression.
There’s a large collection of other mental interventions, including meditation, relaxation techniques, cognitive behavioural therapy and other such approaches. What’s most common amongst all of them, is that we have to do some of the work ourselves to get the change. It’s not like just simply taking a pill to make it all better. You have to put the right effort in for your own recovery.
With all these mental techniques, the strategy is generally to practice them whilst you’re feeling more resourceful. Then, in the more ‘down’ periods, you already have the mental skills needed to help you come out more quickly.
When we look at folk who have made a permanent and lasting change, there seem to be two major components involved. These components are habits and strategies.
Firstly, are the alternative habits they have, especially those within their minds. For example, you probably noticed that some individuals always seem to focus on the dark side of life. Whereas, there are also others who can always find a joke in something. These are just mental habits, and developing the ones that are most useful for you will help you on the lasting path to recovery. Typically, we can develop new habits in about 90 days if we allow ourselves. Once this new habit is within us, then it can influence us for life if we choose to keep it in place.
Secondly, a strategy needs to be used that will ensure the desired habits stay in place. Strategies are no more than a plan that can be repeatedly followed. The difference between strategies and habits are that strategies tend to be complex and you tend to follow them consciously. Habits on the other hand, tend to be simple and once learned, done unconsciously.
Another area that seems to have a significant impact on our mood is the environment we are in. This is both the physical environment- the condition of the place where we live in, and the emotional environment created by the others around us.
What you see inside and outside your home and workplace may seem unimportant to you. However, it’s important to realize that this can have a great effect on how you think and feel. Making some changes in your physical environment can be a big factor in your recovery from depression.
Does your chair face a blank wall, or does it look out over through a window and a larger vista? Is your living environment or office clean and tidy, or is it full of dusty, disorganised ‘stuff’ and clutter? Does your environment seem depressing, or is it uplifting and inspiring?
We may not be able to change what’s outside our window, but we can change our internal environment and where we choose to look. Changing our environment and focus can often times be enough to improve things greatly for us.
The other people in our environment, also clearly make an impact on our mood and self esteem. We live in relation to other people and we all have an emotional effect on each other – even though we rarely notice. Being around an angry person can make us feel ‘shut down’ and guarded. Being around a caring person can make us comfortable and relaxed.
You would have thought that we actually can’t change other people. However, the reality is we probably can. If we change how we behave around others, often they will also change how they behave around us. So, figuring out better strategies to handle the friends, family, colleagues, friends and others that cause us emotional stress, will ultimately lead them to change how they interact with us. There’s no mechanical way of changing people. But a little change is worth paying attention to. Modifying what you’re doing and observing the results, can lead to a quick and significant improvement in your situation.
A great antidote to feeling down is to spend time with genuinely friendly, caring, loving people, funny people. If you have those people in your life go and spend time with them. If not, just understand that the reason a person is not a joy to be around is because they themselves probably aren’t happy. This is a key point to remember when we feel as if we are the only one suffering with low moods.
In life, nothing lasts forever. People come and go all the time. When important people move on and leave us it can be devastating. The cause may be death, a relationship split or somebody moving away from your day to day life. The effect can leave a big feeling of emptiness and despair.
A feeling of sadness loss and grief is normal. The challenge is to not get stuck in that empty state and find other new meaningful things and people to fill the hole.
For many, sleep is a contributing factor to their mental state. It could be too much or too little sleep. Much is said about how much people need, but the reality is we’re all different. The amount of sleep you need, compared with others are probably different. What you’ll need to do is figure out what the right amount for you is. You may need to have more or less sleep. Experiment to see how you can change your sleeping habits for the better.
It’s common for a depressed person off work to spend too long in bed, as there seems no real point in getting up and joining the day. In which case, it’s useful to make sure you get out of bed at a certain time and timetable tasks in for you to do, so you can get a sense of achievement in the day. Getting your sleep patterns right can take quite a large amount of work, and focused effort on your part. However, for many it can be a breakthrough in their lasting recovery.
Prolonged sleep problems can cause severe depression, and severe depression treatment can take a long time. Never underestimate to power of a good night’s sleep in your recovery from depression.
Another area that can have a significant impact on how we are is what we put into our bodies. These are the food that we eat and the things we drink.
These are considered to be alternative depression treatments but you should think of them as basic habits to support your good mental, physical and emotional health.
It’s certainly been shown that some people have deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals or essential fatty acids. Over an extended period of time, these can leave them feeling very low. Just supplementing the diet can be an effective alternative treatment and fairly quickly bring them back to normal. If you consider yourself possibly affected by this, the simplest solution is to take a decent quality multivitamin mineral tablet and an essential oils tablet. Take them according to the proper dosage and note how you feel over the next few weeks. Surely, you could spend time trying to figure out which particular vitamin you needed. However, taking slightly more than you need isn’t going to be a problem.
Drinking can also affect your mood. Alcohol becomes a depressant, and even coffee can become a depressant for many people. A good tip is to look at what you do lots of. Most things are fine in moderation but if you overdo something it may be affecting your mood. Relatively minor changes in your lifestyle can result in significant mood changes. The food we eat also has mood altering properties. A high-carbohydrate meal can lead to us feeling lethargic. A high-protein meal can leave us with more energy. What kind of diet do you have? Maybe you’ll benefit from tweaking your diet to help you with your recovery. If so, give a certain diet plan a go and monitor the results. Can you find an alternative to your regulat drink? One that you will also enjoy just minus the alcohol.
Taking traditional herbal remedies and supplements can also be effective forms of treatment. In some ways, they’re just an alternative for the antidepressants that can be prescribed by medical practitioners . However, the very fact that you choose how much and when to take them, already seems to have a positive impact. It’s like being more in control once again, rather than having to follow treatments prescribed by others.
For whatever reason some people believe that their depression is outside of their control. It’s not them, it’s their hormones, their genetics, or some factor in the environment or whatever. This leads to an overall sense of hopelessness. This also contributes to their depression. They look for treatments that change ‘out there’, rather than looking for an alternative that changes what is within them.
Certainly these sorts of factors can have an impact; however they’re not the whole story. At the very least there are things that you can do to moderate your condition. Techniques to improve things slightly, even significantly.
Explore your options. When you believe you have options often this will spark hope. If you have hope that you can recover. then you will put some active effort into your recovery. If you believe there is no alternative way of being, then you are trapped. We want you to see how you can help yourself.
Make a choice. See what things appeal to you and decide to do them. Work out carefully what you think you can do and plan when and how you can fit them in.
Do something. Just thinking about options, or even deciding to do something and then not doing it doesn’t help. Doing something to help yourself will give you movement in the right direction towards your recovery. The worst thing that could happen is that you find one way that doesn’t work. When you know that you can get on with experimenting with another alternative.
Be Patient and give your new habits the time to have a positive effect on you. Focus on the process of taking control, rather than focussing on the result not happening quickly enough.