Depression is a common and often serious medical issue that affects how one feels, thinks and consequently behaves. It can seem that it is overpowering and cannot be treated but fortunately, it can. There are ways to manage depression without medication.
Some people, depending on the degree of their depression, require medications and medical treatment provided by professionals. However, my list of 6 ways to manage depression without medication is intended for individuals that don’t need those medical treatments.
#1. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Everyone is aware that getting a good night’s rest inevitably affects one’s mood and outlook on an upcoming day. Unfortunately, those who are depressed often find it very difficult to get proper 7-8 hours of sleep. Some people may find that means they are not able to sleep at all – replaying the previous day over and over again.
Perhaps even sleeping far too much, feeling sluggish and without motivation to even get out of bed. Either way, you are not receiving the adequate amount of sleep your body requires to face the day in a healthy manner.
Try having a nighttime routine:
- Have a warm bath
- Use essential oils like lavender
- Remove yourself from the electronics
- Dim the lights
- Breath deeply
When you are in a depressed mood, you can feel like your mind is holding you prisoner and no escape is in sight. Fighting against and overcoming those negative thoughts can seem like a worthless task but it is critical if you are going to deal with your depression.
It is important to recognize those thoughts as just that – thoughts – so that they do not overpower you.
Meditation is a feasible strategy to help deal with such thoughts. There are numerous options on Youtube for guided mindfulness meditation or perhaps joining a group that practices meditation may prove beneficial.
Try this one from Great Meditation to draw in positive energy. Often if you are new to meditation, it is helpful to do it privately in your home so you can truly relax and I personally find YouTube videos such as this one to be very useful.
#3. You Are What You Eat
Eating properly is essential to not only your physical health because it provides your body with its required vitamins and minerals but also to your mental health. Your brain also needs those healthy foods if it is to operate properly. Although depression is a mental illness, it also affects one’s physical self.
What you put into your body can improve your mood. Think about what you feel like when you consistently are eating fatty, greasy, nutritionally-void food. Do you feel motivated to exercise? Are you filled with energy and a desire to tackle the day? Of course, you don’t!
Eat foods rich with colour and as little processing as possible as one of the ways to manage depression without medication. Your body is meant to handle those types of foods which can help to alleviate some of your gloomy feelings.
The types of foods you consume are important but also is the time of day you eat! The saying goes that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” for a reason. It provides your body with the fuel it needs to operate properly.
#4. The Outdoors Can Be Your Friend
When feelings of depression overwhelm you, often the only thing you want to do is hide under your blankets and avoid everything and everyone that is outside. Interacting with others or even getting dressed to face the sunshine can be daunting or perhaps even insurmountable. However, being outside has been proven to have substantial benefits on one’s mental health.
Exposure to sunlight is proven to improve one’s dopamine and serotonin levels. Increased levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) contribute to feelings of general well-being and happiness.
Take small steps and go outside – visit a park, go for a short walk, or even sit in your backyard or on your balcony. Listen to the birds sing and feel the sunshine upon your face.
Reflect on the beauty of the world and what it truly has to offer. Eventually, you will see that it becomes easier to step through your door and enjoy the world around you.
As mentioned previously, in order to alleviate the feelings of sadness and gloom, you must also feel physically well. The wellness of the mind and body go hand in hand. So if you are not treating your body properly, you cannot expect to be able to handle your depression naturally, without medication.
Exercise is a fundamental component in your personal battle and can help you to feel better. Chemicals known as endorphins are released when you exercise. These endorphins connect with the brain receptors to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body.
Do not be overwhelmed by the word EXERCISE. You do not need to be running marathons or be a part of a competitive team. Start off slowly with something like a walk around the block. (Yes! You will be getting outside AND exercising!).
As you start to improve, increase the amount of time or intensity of your exercise. Maybe you would like to ride a bike through the park or go for an early morning swim.
Often depression is just too overwhelming to deal effectively on your own and the training only found in a professional may be necessary. These are people who have studied the intricacies of the brain and how depression can affect individuals differently and can provide additional ways to manage depression without medication.
Do not expect that they are able to perform some magical problem-solving. Instead, they can work with you to discover and develop strategies in order that you may succeed in your journey to handle your illness.
It is important that you maintain the practices they have set out for you and reflect upon your own thought patterns. Recognize that you do not have to be trapped by your own thoughts and that hope is there.
Depression can often be a debilitating disease but it doesn’t need to be. Medication may be required but often trying the above-mentioned strategies may help to reduce or perhaps even eliminate the need for it.
The first step in dealing with your depression is recognizing and acknowledging that you do indeed have an illness that needs to be treated. You wouldn’t ignore a broken bone so why would you ignore an illness of the brain? It is not any different!
There may be the fear of being stigmatized as “crazy” or that you are the only one. Millions of people suffer from depression on a daily basis and it takes courage and strength to handle it. It may be challenging at the beginning but taking steps forward makes that road less difficult to travel.
Try the ways to manage depression without medication that have been mentioned. You have it within you to conquer your depression and you deserve to be happy!