Seven Alternative Approaches To Treat Depression


According to the World Health Organization, depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. While the exact cause of depression isn’t known, a number of things can be associated with its development. Generally, depression does not result from a single event, but from a combination of biological, psychological, social and lifestyle factors.

Although depression can happen at any age, it often develops in adulthood. In order for the diagnosis of depression to be established, symptoms must last at least two weeks. Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. A key distinction is also made between depression in people who have or do not have a history of manic episodes. Both types of depression can be chronic (i.e. over an extended period of time) with relapses, especially if they go untreated.

In terms of depression treatments, they are chosen based on a variety of factors. Some of them include but are not limited to severity and duration of symptoms, other mental health or physical conditions, medications being taken, and a variety of other factors, including what a patient is comfortable with. Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. However, since every antidepressant has the potential to cause particular side effects, and these can vary from drug to drug,  a significant number of people are turning to alternative approaches to treat depression. Alternative therapy for depression encompasses a variety of disciplines that includes everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes.

To help you decide whether alternative depression treatments are for you, we’ve rounded up seven most commonly used by patients instead of or along with conventional treatments.


Different forms of exercise can lower your stress; reduce depression; and increase your energy level, balance, flexibility, and ability to relax. In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression. Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins and taking your mind off worries. In addition, regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you gain confidence, get more social interaction, cope with whatever is in your life in a healthy way.

CBD oil

CBD oil has been found to be effective in the treatment of depression. The cannabinoids produced in our bodies (endocannabinoids) help to regulate several functions of the body such as mood, pain sensation, sleep, and appetite. These substances exert their actions by binding to specific receptors through which they potentiate the actions of the serotonin which acts to improve mood and reduce stress levels. Serotonin also acts by binding to its receptors in brain cells. When these hormones bind to their respective receptors, they trigger a series of events within each brain cell stimulating processes that improve mood and stress control. CBD oil helps with depression by directly improving the symptoms. As a natural compound, CBD oil modulates the actions of the endocannabinoids and also potentiates the effects of serotonin. In addition, CBD does not produce negative side-effects as many pharmaceutical medications for depression, which is why it’s proving to be an effective alternative to traditional treatments.


Hypnotherapy is a type of complementary and alternative medicine in which the mind is used to help with a variety of problems, such as breaking bad habits or coping with stress. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, hypnosis may help with issues such as depression, hot flashes, smoking cessation, and pain management. The overall goal is to create a relaxed but conscious state where individuals feel comfortable enough to discuss their circumstances without becoming overly anxious or emotional. Hypnotherapy for depression helps you enter the subconscious, identify the “unfinished business”, “finish” the “unfinished business” and release the stored emotions/experiences, replace the trauma with positivity and eventually use the power of hypnotic suggestion to create long-term improvement. Hypnotherapy is best used as an adjunct to other forms of psychotherapy or medical practice.


Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness or focusing their mind on a particular object, thought or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Precisely that heightened awareness could have far-ranging benefits for people with depression and anxiety. While the body is at rest, the mind is cleared by focusing on one thought, which could be a word, phrase, or particular scenery. In addition, a growing body of research supports the use of mindfulness techniques for preventing a depression relapse. However, even though meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, has been shown to be helpful in treating depression, it should be used as a part of conventional medical care under the supervision of a physician, and not as a substitute for conventional medical care.


Practicing yoga teaches you breathing techniques that can help to energize you when you are feeling down or to help calm you at the times you may be feeling anxiety. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, recent studies suggest that yoga can reduce the impact of stress, help with anxiety and depression, be a self-soothing technique similar to meditation, relaxation, and exercise and improve energy. It is a physical exercise that involves different body poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. The breath is the link between your mind and your body. Changing your breath can help you feel better mentally and physically and the postures and movements teach you how to hold your body and to create an improved sense of overall well-being.


In acupuncture, a practitioner inserts needles into the skin at points of the body thought to correspond with specific organs. In traditional Chinese medicine, the process is believed to improve functioning by correcting energy blocks or imbalances in the organs. A growing number of people claim that acupuncture may help ease depression symptoms, as well as treat the underlying condition. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that electroacupuncture—in which a mild electric current is transmitted through the needles—was just as effective as fluoxetine (the generic name of Prozac) in reducing symptoms of depression. Another research conducted in the United Kingdom suggests that acupuncture may even help clinical treatments work better and may be as effective as counseling when used as a part of a complementary care plan.


Massage uses touch to promote relaxation while decreasing tension and stress. The release of serotonin and dopamine and the decrease of cortisol during a massage may help improve the symptoms of depression, lessen pain and improve sleep. The American Massage Therapy Association takes the position that regular massage therapy can reduce symptoms of depression. A meta-analysis of several studies concluded that massage therapy is significantly associated with reduced symptoms of depression. Some trials showed only a moderate effect, but a positive effect was demonstrated across the board.

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