How to Get Over Depression Without Medication: 15 Things To Try

How to Get Over Depression Without Medication: 15 Simple Techniques for a Happier Life

Dealing with depression can be an uphill battle, and finding the right treatment is key to overcoming its hold on your mental health. While some people benefit from medication, me included, there’s a growing interest in exploring alternative methods to alleviate depression symptoms and that’s one of the reasons why I started this blog so many years ago.

If you’re searching for ways to get over your depression without medication, you’ll be glad to know that there are several effective strategies you can try. Also, it’s okay if you decide to use medications too. For me, a combination of these tools has been helpful in combating my depression symptoms.

how to get over depression without medication

Lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and therapy approaches can have a positive impact on your mental well-being. I have found that by consistently incorporating these methods into your daily routine it can help reduce the severity of your symptoms and improve your overall mood.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with depression is different, so it’s essential to explore various options and find the combination that works best for you.

Here, we are sharing helpful strategies and tips that can help you better manage your depression and take control of your mental health. These suggestions may prove invaluable on your journey to a happier, more balanced life.

 

Depression and Overall Mental Health

Your overall mental health plays a crucial role in how you experience and cope with depression. It’s essential to engage in activities that promote positive mental health, such as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Additionally, practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, may help improve your mood and alleviate depressive symptoms.

I wanted to share 15 easy things you can do to shift your mood naturally because I know how hard it can be to find the energy to try new things when you are depressed. Remember, baby steps are still steps forward here!

By incorporating any of these healthy habits into your daily routine, you can better manage your depression and ultimately enhance your overall well-being.

1. Mindfulness and Meditation

how to get over depression without medication

Mindfulness Techniques

Practicing mindfulness helps you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, allowing you to better manage them. One simple mindfulness technique is deep breathing. Here’s how:

  1. Find a comfortable position: Sit or lie down where you can relax.
  2. Place a hand on your abdomen: This helps you focus on your breath.
  3. Breathe in for 3 seconds: Notice how your hand rises as you inhale.
  4. Pause: Take a moment before exhaling.
  5. Breathe out for 3 seconds: Notice how your hand falls as you exhale.
  6. Repeat: Practice this technique for a few minutes each day.

Remember, staying present and non-judgmental are key aspects of mindfulness.

Meditation Practices

Meditation can be a valuable tool for reducing stress and fostering emotional well-being. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an 8-week program that combines meditation and yoga, teaching you how to increase mindfulness and cope with stress. You can also try other forms of meditation, such as loving-kindness or body scan meditations and I personally love using tapping meditation. You can try it here with Tapping Solutions for free!

To build a regular meditation practice:

  • Set a specific time: Choose a time that works best for you, like the morning or evening.
  • Find a quiet space: Minimize distractions to maintain focus.
  • Start small: Begin with just a few minutes each day and build up gradually.
  • Be patient: It takes time to develop meditation skills; don’t be too hard on yourself.

Cultivating Gratitude and Positive Emotions

Gratitude and positive emotions can improve your mood and overall mental health. Here are some strategies to cultivate them:

  • Keep a gratitude journal: Each day, write down 3 specific things you’re grateful for each day.
  • Celebrate small victories: Recognize and rejoice in your accomplishments, however small.
  • Practice loving-kindness meditation: Direct positive thoughts and intentions towards yourself and others.
  • Surround yourself with positive people: Spend more time with those who uplift and support you.

By incorporating mindfulness techniques, meditation practices, and gratitude into your daily life, you can enhance your emotional well-being.

2. Lifestyle Adjustments

Exercise and Physical Activity

Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity can help lift your mood and combat depression. Studies show that even just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per day can have a positive impact on your mental health.  Incorporating activities you enjoy, such as walking, running, swimming, or yoga, can make it easier to stick to a routine. Make exercising more fun by listening to your favorite music too – also great for your mental health.

If you’re new to exercise, start small and gradually increase your activity level. Find a workout buddy or join a group exercise class to keep yourself motivated and accountable. Remember, consistency is key, so try to make physical activity a regular part of your daily routine.

Diet and Nutrition

Certain nutrients are essential for maintaining brain function and mood regulation and so eating whole foods and eliminating processed foods is important for maintaining good mental health. Consuming a balanced diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and grains can help in your fight against depression. Limiting stimulants such as caffeine and sugar, and depressants like alcohol can also be beneficial.

To make healthier choices, try the following:

  • Focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, as they are known to help improve mood.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid sugary beverages and try incorporating herbal teas.
  • Plan your meals and snacks in advance to make it easier to make healthier food choices and avoid emotional eating.
  • Avoid foods that have historically irritated your digestion.

Incorporating these lifestyle adjustments along with regular sleep and self-care practices can help you fight depression without medication. Remember to listen to your body, and speak with a healthcare professional if these strategies don’t improve your mental well-being or if you have concerns about your health.

3. Natural Remedies and Healthy Habits

how to get over depression without medication

The Role of Supplements

Make sure you consult with a medical professional before adding supplements to your daily regimen.

Incorporating dietary supplements can be a great way to support your mental health and I strongly believe that you need bloodwork done in order to pinpoint the right combination of supplements before you take anything.

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3
  • Zinc
  • Methylated Complex B
  • Magnesium
  • 5-HTP

For instance, are all great supplements for depression but not all of these are great for everyone and there are so many supplements on the market. Your physican or naturopath will  be able to recommend good quality supplements. This is a time and financial investment that will pay off long-term.

Reducing Stimulants and Alcohol

Sometimes it’s more important to eliminate things that could be holding you back in life and it’s essential to pay close attention to what you consume, especially when dealing with depression. Limiting the intake of stimulants such as caffeine found in coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages can help prevent anxiety and agitation.

Reducing or eliminating alcohol from your diet is crucial too, because it’s a depressant. Consuming alcohol can lead to negative emotions and worsening of depressive symptoms.

Instead, focus on hydration and a healthy diet to help manage your depression.

4. Sleep Hygiene

Sleep is essential for your mental and physical well-being, and maintaining good sleep hygiene can help you combat depression without medication. Here’s how:

  • Create a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Consistency is key, and establishing a routine can improve your sleep quality.
  • Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Ensure it is comfortable, quiet, and dark by using blackout curtains, white noise machines, or a comfortable mattress. Keeping your room cool and with proper ventilation is also essential for a good night’s sleep.
  • Develop a nightly wind-down routine. It’s crucial to allow yourself time to unwind before bedtime. Engage in relaxing activities like reading a book, practicing mindfulness, listening to calming music, or taking a warm shower.
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake as they may negatively impact your sleep quality. Avoid consuming these substances, especially in the afternoon and evening.

Remember, good sleep is fundamental to your overall well-being.

5. Engaging Hobbies

how to get over depression without medication

Incorporating hobbies into your daily routine can be a great way to help you overcome depression without relying on medication. For me, gardening and taking care of my plants has been very therapuetic and in many ways became a healthy distraction this last winter when my depression was bad. By engaging in activities that you enjoy and are passionate about can distract you, help you relax, and boost your mood. Here are a few hobbies you might consider introducing to your lifestyle:

  • Yoga: Practicing yoga not only offers physical benefits but also helps improve your mental health and you can do it from home.
  • Creative pursuits: Drawing, painting, writing, or any other form of creative expression can provide a channel for your emotions and help you shift your focus away from negative thoughts.
  • Cooking: Preparing healthy meals can be therapeutic and enjoyable. Plus, consuming a diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and grains can have a positive impact on your mood.
  • Listening to music or playing an instrument: Music has the power to evoke strong emotions and can help you find balance during difficult time.

While hobbies are not a replacement for professional help, they can be a valuable tool in your recovery process. The key is to find activities you genuinely enjoy and make time for them in your life.

6. Cognitive Behavioral Techniques

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a powerful and effective tool in combating depression without medication. By making changes to your thought patterns and behavior, you can significantly improve your mood and overall mental health.

Identifying and challenging negative thoughts is at the core of CBT. When you notice a negative thought, like “I’m a failure,” try to replace it with something, like “I have successes and setbacks, but I can learn and grow from them.” This way, you’re training your brain to develop healthier thought patterns.

It takes time, patience, and practice.

Let’s break down some techniques:

  1. Thought journaling: Keep track of your thoughts throughout the day, especially the negative ones. Identify situations triggering these thoughts, and practice reframing them with a more positive outlook.
  2. Behavioral activation: Engage in activities that bring you happiness or a sense of accomplishment. This can be as simple as going for a walk or as complex as volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about. Gearing up towards a more active lifestyle helps uplift your mood.
  3. Graded exposure: Gradually face the situations or activities that scare you or make you anxious, starting from the least intimidating and building up from there. This will help you gain confidence and break the cycle of fear and avoidance.

By using these cognitive behavioral techniques consistently, you can work towards overcoming depression without medication and create a healthier mindset for yourself. Remember that progress takes time and changing the way you think about difficult things or your depression is challenging. I think you can do it!

7. Journaling

Journaling can be a powerful tool and can be a catalyst for how to get over depression without medication. By expressing your thoughts and emotions on paper, you can gain insight into your feelings, reduce stress, and track your progress. Here are some tips to help you get started with journaling.

how to get over depression without medication

Journaling should be simple. And you don’t have to over think it. Sometimes I just grab a pen and paper and set a timer for ten mintues and write. You’d be surprised at how fast ten minutes goes by! I find this method of journaling very therapuetic because it’s free form and it’s okay if it’s messy and disjointed. It’s such a relief to get all the chatter out of my head.

If you like something more organized, try these journal prompts for depression as a starting point. These prompts can help you explore your emotions, relationships, and experiences related to depression. As you become more comfortable with journaling, you might transition to free writing or developing your own prompts.

Here are some example journaling prompts to get you started:

  • What were your high and low points today?
  • Describe a time when you felt happy or at peace.
  • List three things you’re grateful for in your life.

When writing in your journal, remember to write honestly and openly. Focus on expressing your thoughts and feelings, rather than worrying about grammar or punctuation. Your journal is a private space for you to reflect and process your emotions.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to journal. The most important thing is that you find the approach that works best for you.

8. Service Towards Others

Helping others can be an effective way for how to overcome depression without medication. It not only enables you to step outside your own problems for a while, but it also provides a sense of purpose and increased self-esteem. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate service towards others in your daily life.

  • Volunteer: There are numerous opportunities to volunteer in your community. You could choose to work at a local food bank, mentor children, or participate in neighborhood clean-ups. These activities can bring you a sense of accomplishment.
  • Practice Random Acts of Kindness: Incorporate small acts of kindness into your daily routine. Hold the door for someone, compliment a co-worker, or help a neighbor with their groceries. These simple gestures can foster positive feelings within you and also brighten someone else’s day.
  • Support Local Charities: Research charities that align with your values and interests, and contribute your time, talent, or resources. This will not only grow your sense of accomplishment but also provide a sense of connection to the broader community.
  • Connect with Others in Need: Start a conversation with someone who seems lonely, or offer your help to a friend going through a difficult time. Providing a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on can be a valuable form of support.

Remember to maintain a balance when helping others; do not overextend yourself, or it may exacerbate your depression. Set realistic goals and boundaries and continue to take care of yourself.

9. Nature Therapy

how to get over depression without medication

Spending time outdoors has been proven to have significant mental health benefits. It can help refresh your mind and manage emotions like loneliness and irritability1. In this section, we will discuss various ways you can incorporate nature therapy into your life.

Take a walk in the park: Going for a walk in a natural setting can be an effective way to relieve stress, improve mood, and increase energy levels. Parks, trails, or even your neighborhood can serve as a therapeutic environment. Remember, consistency is important, so try to make these walks a regular part of your daily routine.

Gardening: Gardening can not only be a relaxing outdoor hobby and meditative experience but also provide you with a sense of accomplishment.

Wildlife observation: Observing animals in their natural habitat can bring a new perspective to your life. It allows you to appreciate the beauty and interconnectedness of the ecosystem.

Outdoor activities: Engage in activities such as hiking, cycling, or canoeing. Not only do these activities provide a good form of exercise, they also allow you to immerse yourself in nature and explore the beauty of the great outdoors2.

When my depresssion or anxiety are bad, I like to go outside and lay in the grass and watch the clouds, stars, trees swaying, birds flying over head, and then I realize my focus is upward towards big things and it makes my feelings seem smaller.

By incorporating nature therapy into your daily life, you might find an improvement in your emotional well-being.

  1. The mental health benefits of nature
  2. How to Fight Depression Naturally

10. Mind-Body Practices

Incorporating mind-body practices into your daily routine can help manage depression without relying on medication. Here are a few techniques, in addition to the aforementioned techniques, that you can try:

Light therapy: Getting enough sunlight is important for mental health, as it helps increase vitamin D levels, which are connected to mood. Try spending some time outside in natural sunlight or, if you live in an area with limited sunlight, consider investing in a therapeutic light box.

Guided imagery and music: Listening to soothing music and practicing guided imagery can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. By focusing on positive images and calming music, you can redirect negative thoughts and improve your overall mood. I love the Tapping Solutions and Insight Timer apps for guided meditations.

By adopting these mind-body practices, you can promote a healthier mental state and work to overcome depression naturally. Give yourself time and be patient, as change doesn’t happen overnight.

11. Building a Support Network

how to get over depression without medication

Building strong relationships and maintaining them is essential in overcoming depression. It can be hard to reach out to your friends and family to let them know you need their support when you aren’t feeling good.

I know from my own experience, that your friends and family want to support you and having their love during your difficult days can been tremendous in your recovery.

To create meaningful connections, communication is key. Open up to people you trust and practice active listening when they share their thoughts and feelings.

Professional helpers, therapists, and doctors can also be a part of your support system. It’s part of their job!

Remember that the key to overcoming depression without medication is fostering strong relationships. Embrace every opportunity to expand your social network and maintain a friendly, compassionate approach in your interactions.

12. Creating a Balanced Routine

Establishing a Daily Schedule

One of the most effective ways to overcome depression without medication is by creating a balanced routine. Start by establishing a daily schedule that includes activities that give you a sense of accomplishment and meaning. Design your schedule to include a mix of work, social interactions, self-care, and leisure. For example:

  • Wake up at the same time every day
  • Make time for healthy meals
  • Schedule physical activity (e.g., daily walk, yoga)
  • Set aside time for hobbies or interests
  • Include social interactions (e.g., call a friend, attend a support group)

Your daily schedule should be realistic and achievable.

Setting Achievable Goals

To maintain motivation and foster a sense of accomplishment, it’s important to set achievable goals. Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. For example:

  1. Be specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve.
  2. Set deadlines: Allocate a timeframe to complete your goal.
  3. Prioritize: Focus on the most important tasks first.
  4. Track progress: Record your accomplishments to acknowledge your achievements.

Remember to be flexible with your goals, as life can sometimes throw unexpected challenges your way.

Start small and take baby steps!

Incorporating these elements of a balanced routine can help you gradually overcome depression, foster a sense of accomplishment, and boost your quality of life. Stick with it and be patient with yourself–progress may take time, but a well-planned routine can ultimately make a positive difference in your life.

13. Seeking Professional Help

how to get over depression without medication

Understanding Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is an effective way to get over depression without medication. It involves discussing your feelings, thoughts, and concerns with a mental health professional who can help you understand and work through your issues. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and Psychodynamic Therapy, and EMDR Therapy can all be effective forms of depression related therapies you can look into.

CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns, while IPT helps improve your relationships and address interpersonal issues contributing to depression. Psychodynamic Therapy explores deeper emotions and experiences to identify the root cause of depression. EMDR Therapy is an effective treatment for trauma related depression.

I have also found acupunture to be a very effective treatment for depression.

When to Consult Professionals

If your depression feels overwhelming or affects your daily life, it’s crucial to seek professional help. Some signs that indicate you need assistance are:

  1. Persistent sadness or hopelessness
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  3. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  4. Sleep disturbances or changes in appetite

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional or a support group or dial 988 for the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a step towards a healthier, happier life.

14. Self-Compassion Practices

One of the ways to combat depression without medication is by incorporating self-compassion practices into your daily life.

1. Remind yourself that depression isn’t a choice. Remember that depression is not a sign of weakness or a personal failure. It is a mental health condition, and practicing self-compassion means acknowledging this and treating yourself kindly as you would to a friend who’s going through the same struggle1.

2. Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgment. You can try various exercises, such as meditation, deep breathing, or even just spending a few minutes in silence and focusing on your breath1.

3. Take one step at a time. Break down your tasks and goals into smaller, manageable steps. This will make it much easier for you to achieve them and boost your sense of accomplishment1.

4. Journal your thoughts and feelings. Writing about your experiences and emotions can help you process what you’re going through and gain some clarity. This can also help you identify any negative thought patterns and work on reframing them.

5. Develop a self-compassion mantra. Come up with a phrase or statement that reminds you to be gentle with yourself and offers encouragement during difficult times2. For example: “I am worthy of love and compassion” or “I am doing the best I can.”

By incorporating these self-compassion practices into your daily routine, you can support your journey towards overcoming depression without the use of medications. Remember to be patient with yourself, as it takes time and practice to develop these habits.

  1. Self-Compassion in Depression: 7 Methods to Try 2 3 4
  2. How to Practice Self-Compassion: 8 Techniques and Tips

15. Setting Realistic Goals

Depression can make even simple daily tasks challenging. One way to cope is by setting realistic goals that can help you regain a sense of control.

First, start by breaking down your goals into smaller, more achievable tasks. By doing this, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by your ambitions. For example, if your goal is to improve your physical health, you can begin with simple tasks like:

Next, be gentle with yourself and accept that ups and downs are natural when working towards your objectives. It’s important to stay patient and not to compare your progress with others. Remember that everyone has their unique path and pace.

To stay organized and keep track of your progress, consider using a planner or journal. This will help you visualize your achievements and adjust your plans as needed. Additionally, it can serve as a reminder of your successes when depression tries to cloud your perception.

Don’t forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments, no matter how small. Celebrating your achievements can help boost your self-esteem and motivate you to continue making progress. This could be as simple as treating yourself to a favorite snack or watching your favorite TV show.

Lastly, seek support from friends and family who can help keep you accountable and encourage you during your journey. Sharing your goals with someone you trust can be a powerful motivator and may even inspire them to join you.

Remember, be patient, and take each day as it comes.

Final Thoughts

Depression is challenging to live with. I just got through a very difficult winter and medication adjustments, and I used many of these tips to manage my feelings too.

I know that by adopting some of these natural strategies, you can improve your overall well-being and work towards overcoming depression without medication, or with it. There is no shame in taking medication!

Remember, recovering from depression is not a one-size-fits-all approach. So, don’t be afraid to try different techniques and see what works best for you. Know that you’re not alone in this journey, and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can make a significant difference in your progress.

get over depression without medication

Elena Breese

Elena is a Boston Marathon bombing survivor and lives with post-traumatic stress disorder. Through her website, Still Blooming Me, Elena shares how she learned to embrace her trauma and mental challenges, advocate for herself, and grow from her experience. She is passionate about bringing awareness about PTSD and sharing resources that have helped her heal. Elena has contributed to various blogs, podcasts, and speaks publicly.

Elena is a dedicated wife and mother. Her family lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

Subscribe

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.
We respect your privacy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *