When you’re having a bad day or week, you can often find self-help ways to soothe yourself. Depression, of course, is much more than a bad day. It’s a diagnosable mental health disorder that requires treatment from a professional. One big reason why people with depression may shy away from reaching out for help is the fear of being medicated. Some people are afraid of the negative side effects that come with taking psychiatric drugs. Others, want to find natural ways to to manage their depression without medication.

But there are other reasons that some want to steer clear of drug based interventions. Many have watched a loved one struggle to free themselves of pharmaceuticals. Coming off of psychiatric drugs can be very difficult for some.

Some realize that antidepressants have, at best, a questionable success rate.  Factor in the depression relapses and the long-term success rate drop even more. Then, of course, there are the side effects. Surely, there must be ways to manage depression without medication.

It Depends on the Person

Every case of depression is different. Also, every case of depression must be taken seriously. Left unchecked or untreated, it can create dire circumstances. So, before deciding you don’t need medication, you will need to consult with your doctor and therapist. But, rest assured, once you’ve been given a green light to try self-help, the options abound!

7 Ways to Manage Depression Without Medication

1. Maintain Steady, Healthy Sleep Habits

  • Keep your bedtime and wake-up times consistent and you will see an improvement in your mood.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine that involves powering down your devices and giving your mind space to decompress
  • Get outside during the day and experience some natural light
  • Set up your bedroom in whatever way is conducive to you getting restful sleep

2. Healthy Eating and Daily Exercise

Physical activity sets off a positive chemical reaction in your brain. It’s been shown — in study after study — to improve mood. But you must be consistent. For starters, aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least three days a week and adjust from there.

Also, what you consume plays a major role in how you feel. Some elements to consider:

  • Eat in moderation
  • Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and don’t stare at a screen while doing so
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Caffeine and alcohol are not your friends
  • Reduce intake of sugar and simple carbs

It’s been found that depression can be linked to certain nutritional deficiencies. Talk to your doctor about exploring this possibility.

3. Set Goals

Work with your therapist on goal-setting. This is an essential part of recovering from depression. As you first set out on this work, here are some basics:

  • Start with workable, reachable goals
  • Choose something that is measurable to get that full sense of accomplishment
  • Set goals that do not depend on the actions of others
  • When you hit an inevitable snag, see it as a chance to learn

silhouette of person walking on beach4. Actively Seek Out Joy

  • Cultivate healthy hobbies
  • Literally, schedule a pleasant time each day
  • Be grateful for the joy you create
  • Never wait until you’re in the mood to do something nice

5. Help Others

Some clichés exist for a good reason: they are universally true. Healing others lifts your spirits. Even the smallest acts of kindness have value for everyone involved.

6. Practice Mindfulness

Stay as present as possible while going through your day. Recognize the patterns of self-judging and second-guessing. Identify them and come back to the present moment. Work diligently to introduce self-compassion into your life.

7. Connect with Trusted Loved Ones

Nurture these relationships. Feed off of your closeness and allow it to lift you up when you need that support. Be ready to send that same love and support back to them.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

You can try to wish yourself out of depression or you can take steps to complement your treatment. Medication is not always suggested, so why not reach out today to learn more? Together, we can address this in a natural, non-invasive way through depression counseling.