What Helps Depression Other Than Medication?

Medication is often the go-to solution to address depression. But some alternatives can also alleviate the underlying causes of depression in women, especially if you or a loved one don’t want to take medication or are looking for additional ways to manage this mental health issue.

Let’s explore how incorporating natural therapies, following a healthy diet, mind-body practices, and committing to lifestyle changes are good alternatives to medication when dealing with depression.

Natural Therapies

Natural therapies have been used for centuries to help alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.

These natural therapies may be worth considering as complementary approaches to depression recovery.

Herbal Supplements: Nature’s Remedy for Depression

Herbal supplements –– capsules, teas, and tinctures –– are made from natural plant-based ingredients. Some of the most popular herbal supplements used to treat depression include:

  • St. John’s Wort: This herb is highly effective in treating mild to moderate depression. St. John’s Wort is also often used as an alternative to antidepressants.
  • SAM-e: S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring compound in the body that synthesizes serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters play a crucial role in regulating mood, and their deficiency can lead to depression and anxiety.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These essential fatty acids address depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

It’s important to note that before taking any herbal supplement, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional to ensure it’s appropriate for you and to discuss any potential interactions with other medications you may be taking. 

Additionally, the FDA has yet to regulate herbal supplements, and the quality of supplements can vary widely. So, only purchase herbal supplements from a reputable source.

Acupuncture: An Ancient Practice for Modern Mental Health

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and promote healing. 

The thin needles used in acupuncture are inserted into specific points on the body to promote relaxation, improve blood flow and trigger the release of endorphins, natural chemicals in the body that regulate mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. This results in the following: 

  • Regulating menstrual cycles
  • Improving fertility
  • Reducing stress
  • Balancing hormones
  • Alleviating menopausal symptoms
  • Improving sleep
  • Relieving pain
  • Reducing anxiety

Aromatherapy: Soothing Scents for a Calmer Mind

Aromatherapy is a holistic practice that involves the use of essential oils to promote physical and emotional well-being. These are ways aromatherapy may help address depression in women:

  • Hormonal Balance: Clary sage, geranium, and lavender balance hormones and alleviate symptoms of depression associated with PMS and menopause.
  • Reducing Stress: Lavender and bergamot have a calming effect on the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Improving Sleep: Chamomile and lavender promote relaxation and improve sleep, which can be beneficial for those experiencing insomnia or other sleep disturbances associated with depression.
  • Supporting Emotional Well-being: Ylang-ylang and rose can help to promote feelings of joy, love, and emotional well-being.

Nutrition: The Power of a Healthy Diet in Supporting Mental Well-being

A healthy diet is not only essential for overall physical health but also for maintaining a healthy mind.

  • Avoid genetically modified foods as they block the shikimate pathway in the foods that are consumed and do not allow the much needed amino acid – tryptophan.  Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin.
  • Proper Nutrient Intake: Deficiencies in nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and minerals like zinc and magnesium have been linked to depression.
  • Avoiding Processed Foods: Processed foods are high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemicals that can worsen depression symptoms.
  • Eating Anti-inflammatory Foods: In addition to reducing inflammation in the body, leafy greens, berries, fatty fish, and nuts improve brain function and promote overall well-being.
  • Regular Meals: Skipping meals or irregular meal patterns lead to blood sugar imbalances, which can exacerbate depression symptoms

Mind-body Practices

Mind-body practices, such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi, aim to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being, making them great alternatives to handle depression.

These are some mind-body practices that may be particularly beneficial for women’s depression treatment:

  • Yoga: Certain yoga postures, such as the corpse pose, promote relaxation and reduce feelings of tension and anxiety.
  • Meditation: Mindfulness meditation, in particular, promotes calmness, removing any depressive thoughts.
  • Tai Chi: The slow, flowing movements in Tai Chi attract relaxation and reduce feelings of tension and anxiety.

Lifestyle Changes

These lifestyle changes are simple yet effective ways to improve mood and reduce stress:

Regular Exercise 

Aiming for at least 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise, such as a fast walk, spin class, swimming laps, or jogging can help reduce depression.

Adequate Sleep 

Getting enough quality sleep is essential for overall health, including mental well-being. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is also a simple way to handle symptoms of depression in women.

Support System 

Building a support system of friends, family, and loved ones can be a powerful tool in managing depression. It is essential to have people in your life that you can confide in and who will support you during difficult times.

Kinder in The Keys: Where Comprehensive Care Meets Personalized Solutions for Depression Recovery

Natural therapies, nutrition, mind-body practices, and lifestyle changes all play a significant role in addressing depression and promoting overall well-being. Nevertheless, if you or someone you know is dealing with depression, don’t skimp on seeking professional help.

If you are looking for more information about depression and its underlying causes, check out our other article, “What are the main causes of depression.”

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Author Bio

Dr. Laura Tanzini, DrPh, MA, MFT

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a highly educated and accomplished professional with a background in biology and psychology. She received a BS in Biology from UC Riverside, an MA in psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute, and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University.

Dr. Laura Tanzini is a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, and PTSD Clinician. She has worked in multiple medical hospitals, mental health institutions, and inpatient eating disorder clinics. Also, Dr. Tanzini has written scholarly papers and spoken on various topics related to nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development.

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