“I need alternative depression therapy. I couldn’t find my happiness, peace of mind or joy at the bottom of my pill bottle!”.
Sound familiar? Said as a wisecrack, this a quote that has stuck with me for a few years now.
One of my former depression therapy clients, Susanna (not her real name) said it to me in our first phone call.
As we talked more, she went on to share details with me that showed me that her use of these drugs had not been without steep cost to her. Susanna told me about how she had suffered with a host of side effects brought on by her use of anti-depressant drugs.
She was indeed depressed and anxious. But her difficulties worsened after a rushed conversation with her doctor. It was then that her primary care physician gave her a prescription for SSRIs and benzodiazepines.
Once she began taking the pills, the adverse effects she contended with ranged from annoying to disturbing. Her side effects included:
- Sexual difficulties -including low desire and extreme difficulty reaching orgasm
- Sleep problems
- Discontinuation Syndrome Symptoms– (Drug withdrawal effects).
Over the years her doctor had switched her from drug to drug, all the while seeking elusive depression symptom relief. Eventually Susanna learned more about some of the harm done by psychiatric drugs. And then she began to seek more benign options for herself.
If you are like Susanna, you want to feel better. And you want to nurture your body and mind by putting natural, wholesome things in it. And here is the good news: we have excellent options for you if you are seeking safe, natural treatments for depression.
Alternative Depression Therapy
After years of feeling like she was “spinning her wheels” with her psychiatric drugs, Susanna sought alternative treatment for depression. She wanted a depression counseling approach that would help her “heal depression on all it’s fronts”. Together, we embarked on a depression treatment program that ultimately provided her with great relief.
Biofeedback and Neurofeedback-
One of the safest and most effective treatments for stress, anxiety and depression is biofeedback.
Biofeedback is what I call “technology assisted therapy”. It’s a psychotherapy modality that teaches you to have better control over your physiology. So instead of trying to change your state through taking a drug, you train your nervous system and your brain to function more optimally.
Our bodies powerfully affect our minds. Using a simple tool, in this case, a heart rate monitor, Susanna was able to see on a screen how certain thoughts produced changes in her body. The heart rate biofeedback training equipment was super sensitive. And so, she quickly learned how to more accurately read her mood and her stress level. She also learned to adjust them.
With just a little practice, she began to successfully manage her mind and body. She learned to calm her nervous system effectively.
Massive work stress was a trigger for Susanna’s depressive episodes. So, in our depression therapy sessions, we also used EEG neurofeedback to help directly train her brain to better handle stress. Her neurofeedback sessions helped her depression in a few ways;
Susanna’s Neurofeedback Brain Training:
- Improved her sleep
- Lowered her stress,
- Freed her from chronic dread and fear
- Helped improve her concentration
- Stabilized her moodiness
Biofeedback and neurofeedback are used to help a variety of physical and mental health issues. They are common treatments for high blood pressure, chronic pain, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), anxiety and ADHD
Biofeedback and neurofeedback provide a type of training for your brain and your nervous system. Because of this, they are safe, natural and effective. These modalities are especially helpful for people who are seeking alternative depression therapy. Please feel welcome to poke around my blog, where you will find a number of articles on neurofeedback.
EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
Like many of my clients, Susanna had been through some fairly difficult times early in life. Painful memories sometimes haunted her. A target of childhood bullying, her struggle with shame began early in life. So too did her her tendency to be “a nervous person who takes things too personally”.
To help her nervous system learn and heal from the past, we turned to EMDR. Originally developed as a treatment for PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), it’s now used to treat a variety of problems.
EMDR helped Susanna to:
- Let go of painful memories and old feelings
- Make connections -which shed light onto areas in her life that were keeping her depressed
- Heal core negative feelings about herself
- Improve her self esteem
- Helped her find her inner strength
I’ve also got a few articles on EMDR on my blog, so please feel welcome to look those over too!
Natural Treatments For Depression Aplenty!
Sometimes I think it’s helpful to remember that we humans have many layers. And depression effects many of them. Given that, I’ve seen a number of wholistic health approaches help my depressed clients feel better- and recover from depression.
These have included:
- Reducing or eliminating alcohol use
- Creating healthy relationships (Therapy is a great relationship skill builder)
In addition, an important drug free depression treatment is psychotherapy. A good depression counselor can help guide you to:
- Learn skills to lighten your mood
- Identify habitual ways of looking at things that keep you down.
- Help you build relationships that are supportive, nurturing and enjoyable
Non Medication Depression Treatment
We are fortunate to live in a time when we know a lot about treating depression. And while taking psychiatric drugs might be the right choice for some, it’s not a choice that everyone feels comfortable with.
If you would like to learn more about alternative treatments for depression, please visit my Depression Counseling page. You can learn more about my work there. And please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help!