Depression is a mental health condition afflicting millions worldwide. Researchers from two universities, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and the City University of New York, noted an increase in depression.
Sadly, this increase in numbers did not equate to a commensurate increase in treatment. The same study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that 10 %of Americans have depression.
Depression can be debilitating if left untreated. It can cause sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, among other symptoms.
Fortunately, various treatments are available to help combat depression, including traditional therapy, medications, and more natural remedies. By combining these treatments, individuals can find relief from their depression symptoms and lead healthier lives.
Using natural remedies to treat depression has become an attractive option for many people. They are non-invasive, affordable, and lack the usual side effects. Natural therapies like yoga, exercise, meditation, aromatherapy, herbal supplements, and nutrition can all play an important role in depression management.
Combining medication and therapy for depression
Getting a depression diagnosis can take time. Not everyone with clinical depression will have the same presentation of symptoms. Some will show excessive sleepiness. Others will suffer from difficulty sleeping. Finding the proper medication to alleviate the symptoms is also challenging. It’s a delicate and complicated process.
Not everyone will respond to psychotherapy. Medications may not work for some because they may have other medical problems that can complicate their medications. For example, someone with heart disease may not take antidepressants.
It’s also worth noting that only about 43.5% of those taking antidepressants will be in remission, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
These are the reasons why some clinicians opt for combination therapy. The NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) suggests combining psychological interventions and antidepressants is effective for moderate depression.
Examples of psychological and medical interventions
Here are some of the treatments employed by most psychotherapists:
- Behavioural therapy. This psychotherapy establishes the connection between behaviour and mood to address current issues and presentations of depression. It aims to change negative thought patterns and behaviour to improve mood.
- Cognitive therapy. This focuses on changing inaccurate or unhelpful beliefs about oneself, others, and the world. It is found to be one of the most evidence-based psychological interventions for the treatment of depression. It is usually delivered in 8–16 sessions, depending on the severity of the depression.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This is the type of psychotherapy many psychotherapists use to treat depression. It typically involves working with a therapist in a structured setting, such as an office or clinic, to develop more balanced and constructive ways to respond to stressors. CBT teaches techniques such as relaxation skills, problem-solving skills, and cognitive restructuring. These techniques help reframe thinking during moments of heightened anxiety or panic.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT). IPT focuses on helping individuals understand and resolve their interpersonal problems and improve their ability to interact with others. It is based on the premise that an individual’s mood and mental health are influenced by the quality of their relationships with others. IPT aims to help people identify and build on the skills they need to communicate effectively and manage conflicts with other people.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). MBCT combines traditional CBT with mindfulness practices. It treats depression and other mental health issues by recognising and reframing unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaviour.
- Psychodynamic therapy. Psychodynamic therapy is also known as psychoanalytic or depth psychology. It’s a form of psychotherapy that helps individuals understand their emotions and behaviour. This understanding allows them to manage their mental health issues better. It is based on the idea that buried feelings, thoughts, and memories can strongly influence current behaviour and mental states.
- Medication therapy. Most clinicians will supplement psychotherapy with these second-generation antidepressants: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs); and norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs).
Effective natural remedies to cure depression
While medication and therapy can help with some symptoms of depression, they’re not always enough on their own.
Here are some natural remedies that show a positive effect on depression.
Engaging in any form of physical activity is an excellent way to improve mood. It’s not only is it easy to incorporate into one’s routine. It’s also proven to improve depressive symptoms. Research shows that walking three times a week effectively reduces symptoms of depression in insomniac adults. Aside from walking, dancing or biking are excellent choices to add physical activity to one’s routine. Aim to do any moderate activity for at least half an hour daily for best results.
Studies show that light therapy is an effective treatment method for those with seasonal affective disorder. It involves using an artificial light source to stimulate serotonin production, a hormone responsible for mood regulation.
Healthy food and nutrition
Some may be unaware that food choices impact mood and emotions. Some food items encourage neurotransmitters to control mood, appetite, energy levels, and other processes. A review of the literature shows that the Mediterranean diet improves depressive symptoms and remission rates.
Consumption of healing foods can offer a transformative experience to those with depression.
Here are some food items one can add to their diet:
- Omega-3 foods. A diet rich in omega-3 can help regulate mood. Fish oil supplements with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) improve depressive symptoms. The mechanism of action is still unclear. However, it is believed to be due to their effect on the serotonin receptors in the brain.
- Healthy fats: Studies show that healthy fats, such as organic coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, prevent depression-related free radical damage.
- Fruits and vegetables: Folate-rich food items are also critical in managing mood. Spinach, avocados, and broccoli fight the biochemical changes the body undergoes during stress.
How to combine therapy and medication with natural remedies to combat depression
Combining traditional therapies and medications with natural remedies is a great way to combat depression. By doing this, people can have access to a variety of treatments that are tailored to their needs.
This approach can be especially beneficial for those seeking an alternative solution to conventional treatments. Natural remedies can be combined with traditional therapies and medications to create a comprehensive treatment plan. By combining the two approaches, individuals can find relief from the symptoms of depression while also using natural solutions that are more sustainable in the long run.
If you’re looking to combine therapy and medication, it’s crucial to understand their differences.
Therapy can help one understand the cause of their depression and change behaviour so as not to let it happen again. It also supports those with mental illness by helping them build a support system.
On the other hand, medication is a chemical that helps your body heal from depression.
These treatment options can be complemented with natural remedies for the best results. Here are some ways to bring them all together.
Do light therapy with exercise
Light therapy is a treatment that uses phototherapy to treat depression. It can be used with other therapies, such as talk therapy and counselling. The light stimulates your brain’s serotonin production, improving mood and energy levels.
A light box with 10,000 lux of light and minimal UV light is best for at least 20–30 minutes in the morning. It’s said that it should be done with the eyes open, but users shouldn’t directly look at the light.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t officially approved light therapy for treating depression, so use it with caution. Whenever possible, alternate it with an outdoor exercise. This practice will allow the body to receive vitamin D, which is also great for bringing a bit of “sunshine” to one’s mood.
Drink tea and improve sleep
Clinicians consider sleep disorders, like insomnia, as core symptoms of depression. It’s essential to make a conscious effort to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
Tea is a natural remedy for depression and can help one sleep better. Tea has many different benefits. It helps one relax and feel calmer and happier. It also boosts energy, making one feel awake and focused on tasks.
Some teas proven to have a positive effect on sleep are:
- Lemon balm
- Valerian root
Calm nerves with yoga and meditation
Yoga relieves stress and anxiety. It helps relax and stretch muscles. Yoga promotes better sleep, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increases brain function.
Yoga teaches body movements in beneficial ways for the mind-body connection. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress hormones like cortisol, which is linked with depression. It does so while boosting serotonin levels.
Meditation trains the mind to remain calm. It’s the reason why some clinicians use mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Research suggests that it prevents relapse of depressive symptoms.
Some even use meditation as an adjunct therapy for patients who want to taper their intake of antidepressants. It’s found that there’s a low chance of depression and anxiety among those who attend regular yoga and mindfulness sessions.
Incorporate weight management and diet
Weight impacts one’s mood. People with weight issues are prone to depression. They often face stigma and discrimination from society. These experiences can lead to shame, guilt, and self-loathing, affecting their ability to form meaningful relationships, which can cause depression.
Weight management therapy and diet can treat depression in a few ways. By focusing on nutrition, those suffering from depression can ensure their body is receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep the mind healthy. Weight management practices like physical exercise can help release endorphins, boost mood, and reduce stress.
Those prone to overeating can undergo supportive psychotherapy to help them control their cravings and manage their weight.
Goal-oriented psychotherapy can also help depressed people limit their sugary and processed foods, which can negatively impact mental health.
Bond over food
Sharing a meal with a loved one is an age-old ritual that can help build and maintain meaningful relationships. Not only can it bring people together to enjoy delicious food, but it can also be a form of therapy. A good meal can bring comfort and joy, making it the perfect way to reconnect and cure loneliness.
Food can provide a distraction from depression while creating a sense of community. People can let go of their worries and feel a sense of belonging by sharing meals. This can lead to a more positive outlook and improved mental health.
Cooking with friends or family can be a great way to bond over food. Learning new recipes or trying different cuisines can be a fun and creative activity that builds relationships. Taking the time to talk and laugh while preparing a meal can foster a deeper connection and help people to relax.
Food can be a powerful way to maintain meaningful relationships and alleviate depression. Through shared meals, people can forget their troubles and focus on the positive, creating a sense of joy and connection.
Food is a great way to bond with friends and family, share a memory, and celebrate. It’s also an opportunity to incorporate healthy food into one’s diet.
Dealing with depression the natural way
Integrating therapy and medication with natural remedies has become increasingly popular in treating depression. Traditional treatments, such as psychotherapy or antidepressants, can be combined with alternative therapies.
People can combine these with natural remedies to provide a more holistic approach to managing symptoms. This combination of treatments is effective in reducing anxiety and helping individuals cope better with their depression.
To summarize, depression affects millions of people worldwide and is among the most common reasons for seeking professional help. However, only a few receive treatment. This means that many people are unaware that they have symptoms until they’ve reached a major depressive state.
Combining medication and therapy is a common practice among clinicians to treat depression. However, natural remedies can help those with depressive symptoms manage with fewer side effects.
Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.