11 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally
(Without Drugs!)


The other day I saw a report that said that one in 10 Americans over the age of 12 take antidepressants. That seems so sad to me. But what was truly shocking was that less than a third of the people taking these drugs have seen a mental health professional in the last year—and most people who take these drugs don’t need them. Antidepressants are taken mostly by white women, and their use has increased 400 percent since the early 1990s. It could be that these pharmaceuticals are just the new version of “mother’s little helper.” But it also could be that too many women (and girls!) are suffering and medicating their problems rather than solving them at the source.

I am not a doctor, but I have had periodic bouts of deep depression in my life…tell me, who HASN’T?!? Feeling depressed is a common feeling, and it’s usually a sign that something is wrong in your life. At least, that’s what I’ve found. It could be something as little as not exercising enough and working too hard or as large as not being happy in a job or a relationship. Depression is a tool for discovering the truth, if you are brave enough to face it rather than try to wish it away.  So here are my 11 tips for beating depression naturally that are both life-learned and based on medical evidence:

1. First, see a counselor. Don’t be afraid or ashamed! A counselor will be able to tell you if you need more serious medical help. It’s amazing how quickly talking about your depression with someone else (a professional counselor, not just a friend) can uncover things that afterwards might seem obvious but in the moment of darkness are impossible to see. I guess that is why depression feels so dark…it’s hard to see things!

2. Go for a long walk outside. In Europe, doctors prescribe exercise for their depression patients. I think the best is a combination of exercise and getting out in nature…along with giving your body and mind enough time of mindless walking to let the true feelings and thoughts rise to the surface. You will also see that nature has cycles too—there are times of joy and times of hibernation. Allow your body and soul to sync with nature and you’ll automatically feel better.

3. Let the sun warm your skin. A few years ago, vitamin D supplements were being touted as super-pills that could protect you from depression and other ailments. Well, it turns out that’s not really true. The truth is that people who spend time outside and eat plenty of fatty fish, such as wild salmon, have higher vitamin D levels and less depression. Is it the vitamin D or the lifestyle? I say, skip the pills and go outside and get your sun on!

4. Read a book. I recommend the Mind-Body Mood Solution, by Dr. Jeffrey Rossman, because he has helped me many times with my depressive bouts. As the behavioral health specialist at Canyon Ranch, he has taught me how to get to the real issue quickly and change my perspective on my problems. It really works!

5. Eat right. Eating crap, or overeating anything, literally feeds the depression cycle. Every time you eat crap, you feel bad, and then it just gets that much harder to pull yourself out of the dive. A few foods that are renowned for improving your mood are wild-caught salmon, walnuts, and dark chocolate.

6. Stop drinking and drugging yourself. Trust me on this: While drinking might make you feel better momentarily, all you are doing is swallowing your problems, where they eat away at you in even deeper darkness inside your soul. If you are using alcohol or drugs to anesthetize yourself against your problems, please stop. Get help if you need it!

7. Fall in love. With yourself, first! Treat yourself as you would a precious lover whom you adore, flaws and all. Pamper yourself with baths, naps, flowers, massages. Write love letters to yourself. Tell the voice in your head that says you are not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough to shut the f*ck up and hit the road, Jack, and don’t come back no more, no more, no more, no more.

8. Laugh. Studies have shown that laughter does really make you feel better. Watch some silly comedies! Or old I Love Lucy episodes. Go ahead, watch America’s Funniest Home Videos—at the very least, you’ll be thankful that you are not the one getting whacked in the groin, bonking your head on something stupid, or falling ridiculously from doing something no person in their right mind should really do.

9. Create. Write down your thoughts and secrets. Paint or draw pictures about how you feel. Build something. Garden! Actually, studies have shown that there is stuff in garden soil that works better than antidepressants. So get out there, and don’t wear gloves. Get dirty, get creative, and don’t worry about whether it’s good enough—if you made it, it’s AWESOME! And while you are doing all this, listen to music because that helps, too.

10. Connect with your dreams. Do you remember what as a child you dreamed your life would be like? Often, I find, I get depressed when I have strayed too far from my original dreams. Yes, sometimes we need to change our dreams, but it’s amazing the power of those deep original dreams and how they can guide us.

11. Have the courage to change. Truly, I believe the only way out of depression is to listen to what the darkness is trying to tell you and change your life accordingly. I’ve been shocked sometimes by what I’ve learned and heard in those darkest moments, but as long as you trust your heart and soul and what they’re trying to tell you, you will find the brightness again. The light is right there waiting for you to turn the corner and see it. It will get better, and then you will be so grateful and happy that you had the courage to get through the darkness awake and alive.

Now, I’m really going to sound like my mother when I say this, but I’m going to say it anyway: Always remember that after the darkest storm is when the rainbows come out.

Have you ever used medication for depression?

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19 Responses to 11 Ways to Beat Depression Naturally
(Without Drugs!)

  1. bj says:

    i wrote a blog entry on this very topic. recently it has begun to deeply concern me again because of a teenager in our community who committed suicide a couple weeks ago. everybody is talking about bullying in schools and the challenges of gay youth. but i came across an article which quoted the boy as saying that he had tried 4 different types of antidepressants since january. and NOBODY is talking about the possibility that this boy could have been the victim of a SIDE EFFECT since most anti-depressants warn of possible suicidal tendencies. this boy had loving parents, was in therapy, sang in the school choir, was a champion figure skater, and was working on starting a rainbow club at school to help support other gay teens. I AM CONVINCED its the anti-depressants. but nobody is talking about that, and i’ve been afraid to bring it up….since more than half the people are on them and sensitive about it. these conversations have never ended well. but people need to start talking about THIS.
    here is my blog entry: http://askthetealady.ca/2011/teazine/freedom-from-depression-2/

  2. Deetledee says:

    What a great article!! Such simple solutions…I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately big Pharma is funding the docs to prescribe meds that have side effects and perpetuate the sick cycle. (cha-ching)
    Slowing down and taking time with nature really does help clear your head.
    Love your website/blog!

  3. Laura K says:

    I love what you say about depression being a tool to discover the truth!

    As one of the 10%-ers, I can tell you that I’ve done everything on this list and it all works to help heal depression.

    I can’t agree with you more about seeing a counselor. I’m adamant to the point of annoying with my friends that having a good support system including a counselor and doctor is the way to get to the root of a serious depressive illness. For some of us, the drugs are extremely beneficial. But drugs alone, I believe, can not ease depressive symptoms enough. You have to take care of your whole body and soul. Thanks.

  4. Vanessa says:

    My list to battle depression:
    1. A good support system is vital, I couldn’t get through the winter without gingerbread latte chats with my friends.

    2. Yellow Hunter wellies. There is nothing more miserable than a grey English rainy day, and bright yellow wellies are my antidote.

    3. Flowers. RHS Hyde Hall is my new all-season favourite, because there is a new discovery around every corner, every season!

    4. Finding random international holidays to celebrate, which means every month has a highlight, a new food, a new drink!

  5. Maya says:

    All of the above! Seeing a professional really does help. And the company of a pet works wonders and is great incentive for long walks in the sunshine.

    Also…if you can…travel. Shock your system and routine if you can (in a nice way).

  6. Holly says:

    Don’t forget to open your armpits with Yoga;-)

  7. Lisa says:

    My antidepressants AND therapy, along with eating better, moving more, having a support system, books, favorite music, and my kitties elevates my mood and reminds me to be grateful of having many kinds of support. I have RA, too and take serious drugs to combat that. Be vigilant about what you’re taking and its side effects, minor and severe. A combo of a cortisone shot and hydrocychlor, both of which I learned (after the fact) can cause severe depression. In a matter of 10 days my mood plummeted and I was a danger to myself, the desire for suicide was so strong. You can’t rely on your doctors or the pharmacy to tell you these things–you are your best advocate.

  8. Laura K says:

    Wait – Holly, open your armpits? I’m intrigued!

  9. DavidR says:

    A little unknown secret that professional physicians are discovering. Folic acid, an essential vitamin in our foods plays a crucial role, once converted to L-methylfolate, in treating depression. The great thing (see the Deplin website) is that Deplin, which has to be prescribed, is as safe as a vitamin yet crosses the blood brain barrier, folic acid does not, and impacts overall mental health. See the attached articles.

    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/06/02/vitamin-that-fights-depression/

    http://dailywd.womansday.com/health/daily-dose/2011/antidepressants/

  10. It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few fascinating issues or advice. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles regarding this article. I wish to learn more things about it!

  11. jackie juniper says:

    Yoga, Meditation & Aromatherapy keeps me happy:) Smelling Lavender, Roses, Citrus, Peppermint, Cinnamon, Rosemary & Basil lift my mood, too

  12. george says:

    oh my GOD what a simple solution,i will implement your suggestion to my lifestyle and i hope it will work.One thing i share with you that omega 3 fatty acid intake can really help you with your brain chemistry.

  13. Ara says:

    I smile at people when I am sad, so they would smile back at me then I’ll be happy too… It’s so silly, but this is what I’ve been doing since childhood.

  14. Mark says:

    I read in your write up that dark chocolate helps with depression… In my case I have always had nightmares and trouble sleeping. I can’t even have a chocolate chip after 5 & expect to fall asleep b4 2am. I did a report on caffeine back in high school and know that there are many forms of caffeine and each one effects me different. My question is why do you think my body reacts this way to chocolate and why the horrid depression?

    Thx

  15. John Yannelli says:

    You all are so full of s___. You have no idea how debilitating depression is, it is not, “I had it once and I …..”, it is a freaking illness that no one understands, friemnds you think ae friends find ways to ignore you. Stop posting crap like this and look into the root causes. I get so disgusted when I look for something real, something to help me, and I read nonsense like this.

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  19. michelle says:

    I love this im going to try it and menchen ir to my friends

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