Experts on overcoming depression without medication

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that requires proper diagnosis and treatment by a professional psychiatrist or psychologist. However, according to experts, not all depressed patients need antidepressants for recovery, and there are various natural solutions that can prove extremely effective in managing depression. Shedding light on the same, Dr. Daniel G Amen, a psychiatrist, took to Instagram to share some natural solutions for depression. Can you overcome depression without medication? Absolutely, Dr. Amen said in a video.

The head-to-head exercise against antidepressants was found to be equally effective. Head-to-head against antidepressants, omega-3 fatty acids have proven to be equally effective. Learn to kill ANT (automatic negative thoughts) proved equally effective. Similarly, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression, he added.

While taking medications may be easier and helpful in the short run, Dr. Amen emphasizes the importance of natural solutions for depression in the long run.

Natural solutions for depression

Below are nine common things Dr. Amen recommends for patients before prescribing antidepressant medications. I am:

1. Check and (if necessary) correct Thyroid hormone anomalies.
2. Work with a nutritionally knowledgeable physician to optimize your folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, homocysteine ​​and omega-3 fatty acids. I’m convinced that without making these nutritional adjustments, patients are less likely to respond to medications, she said.
3. Try an elimination diet for three weeks.
4. Add colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet.
5. Eliminate ANTs (automatic negative thoughts).
6. Exercise walk like you’re late, for 45 minutes four times a week. This has been found to be as effective as antidepressant medication.
7. Add one of the following supplements to your daily routine: Saffron 30 mg/day; curcumin, not as turmeric root but as longvida, which is absorbed much more effectively; zinc as citrate or glycinate 30 mg (tolerable upper level is 40 mg/day for adults, 34 mg/day for adolescents, less for younger children); or magnesium glycinate, citrate or malate, 100500 mg with 30 mg of vitamin B6.
8. Consume probiotics daily.
9. Experience morning bright light therapy with a 10,000 lux therapy lamp for 2030 minutes.

Can you really overcome depression without medication?

Yes, it is possible to overcome depression without antidepressants, Dr Mazher Ali, psychiatrist, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, CARE Hospitals told indianexpress.com. While medications may be helpful for some individuals, they aren’t the only option for managing depression. The drugs are reserved for people with severe or clinical depression, he added.

He added that in mild to moderate depression, only psychotherapy (i.e. talk therapy) may be considered. Lifestyle changes, e.g dietary changesexercise, journaling, counseling and therapy can all play a part in overcoming depression, she said.

What lifestyle changes can help overcome depression?

Lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on mental health. Speaking to indianexpress.com, Dr. Amrita Roy, Assistant Professor, Jindal Institute of Behavioral Sciences shared: Many studies have shown that lifestyle changes including a nutrient rich diet, physical activity, meditation, sleep, recreation, and relaxation, are potential front line management choices along with medication and counseling.(1-4) In recent years, the health effects of yoga have been extensively studied and have shown fruitful results for various conditions of mental health, including depression.(5,6).

What dietary changes are helpful for fighting depression?

Dietary changes, in particular, can support overall well-being and help manage depression. Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish, flax seeds and chia seeds), saffron, curcumin (found in turmeric), fruits and vegetables can provide important nutrients that support brain health, she shared. Dr Ali.

Dr. Roy added, “Low-carb and low-protein diets can also precipitate depression, as they play an essential role in neurotransmitter functioning.”

Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for brain health. (Photo source: Freepik)

On the other hand, addiction to alcohol and other substances can increase the risk of both depressive and anxiety disorders in addition to its socio-economic impact. Processed foods must be avoided as they lack nutrients and contribute nothing to our health, said Dr. Roy.

Dietary supplements to help overcome depression

Nutritional deficiencies are known to be linked to several physical health conditions, such as iron and vitamin B12 deficiency which can cause anemia; iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid disorders. Similarly, nutritional factors are also intertwined with mental health and deficiency essential fatty acidsvitamins and minerals has been linked to depression (2), shared Dr. Roy.

Supplements such as magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate and vitamin B6 have been studied for their potential benefits in managing depression, Dr. Ali added.

While some people may find them helpful, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement to make sure it’s appropriate for your specific situation.

Can exercise help fight depression?

Exercise is an evidence-based modality in the management of clinical depression. Moderate-intensity, aerobic exercise regimens for 20 to 30 minutes three to five times a week have been shown by many researchers to be effective in treating depression.(3,4) Walking, cycling, I swimdancing, jogging or running regularly can effectively fight depression, said Dr. Roy.

Regular walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, jogging or running can effectively fight depression. (Photo source: Pixabay)

Dr Ali added: ‘Regular exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Physical activity releases endorphins, improves mood and promotes overall well-being. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise; moderate exercise such as walking or yoga can be helpful.

Can journaling also help depressed patients?

Journaling can be a helpful tool for managing depression. It allows people to express their thoughts and emotions, earn self-awarenessand track patterns or triggers that may be contributing to their depressive symptoms. It can also serve as a cathartic and reflective practice, Dr. Ali explained.

Journaling can be a helpful tool for managing depression. (Photo source: Freepik)

Things to keep in mind

It’s important to remember that depression is a complex condition and what works for one person may not work for another. It is crucial to seek professional guidance from a mental health professional who can provide personalized advice and support tailored to your specific situation.

Not all depressed patients require antidepressant medication. The appropriateness of medication should be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a mental health professional. Some individuals may find relief through non-drug interventions alone, while others may benefit from a combination of therapy, lifestyle changes and medications, shared Dr. Wings.

She concluded, “If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, it’s vital you contact a mental health provider for an appropriate assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.” Depression is a treatable condition and, with the right support, it can be overcome.

References:

1. Sarris, J., ONeil, A., Coulson, C.E., Schweitzer, I., & Berk, M. (2014). Lifestyle medicine for depression. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1), 1-13.
2. Rao, TS, Asha, MR, Ramesh, BN & Rao, KJ ​​(2008). Understand nutrition, depression and mental illness. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2), 77-82.
3. Heissel, A., Heinen, D., Brokmeier, LL, Skarabis, N., Kangas, M., Vancampfort, D., and Schuch, F. (2023). Exercise as medicine for depressive symptoms? A systematic review and meta-analysis with meta-regression.British Journal of Sports Medicine.
4. Roy, A., Govindan, R. & Muralidharan, K. (2018). The impact of a video-assisted structured aerobic exercise add-on module on mood and somatic symptoms among women with depressive disorders: A study from a tertiary care center in India. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 32, 118-122.
5. Gangadhar, BN (2023). Evidence-based integration of yoga into psychiatric practice. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 65(1), 5-11.

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