Are you suffering from depression? Have you heard about all the side effects of medications and are afraid to try them? Do you feel depressed but maybe you don't think that it is bad enough that you want to try taking medication? In this video we're going to go over the 7 natural ways that can help treat your depression without having to take medication. Welcome to Family Med, I'm Dr. Richardson and this is your home for practical and accurate information to help your family make healthy decisions.
This is the channel that focuses on bringing better health to your home. In this episode we're going to be going over some simple, safe and natural things that you can do to help treat your depression. These suggestions are most helpful when you are suffering from mild to moderate depression. They aren't meant to replace your current treatment and certainly should not be stopping any medications except under the care of your doctor. So hopefully you've been able to visit with your doctor and get a good diagnosis. If you are having severe symptoms like suicidal or homicidal thoughts you need to be getting help right away. Talk to friends or family, your doctor or go to the Emergency Room or even call the number below which is the national suicide prevention hotline. Remember, there is help out there. So you've talked to your doctor and you feel that medication isn't right for you or maybe you are taking a medication and you are still looking for some things that you can do to decrease your reliance on them.
What are your options? Well, the first non-medication option that I recommend in treating depression is something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. This is something that has been widely studied and can be just as effective as medication in treating mild to moderate depression. CBT is usually done through a therapist like a psychologist or Licenced clinical social worker. A CBT therapist helps identify negative thoughts that you are having and helps you see how they are impacting your mental health.
Persistent negative thoughts can have a real impact on the chemicals in your brain like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine that are in charge of your feeling of well being. By helping us recognize our negative thoughts and develop strategies to turn those around, a good therapist has shown to be very effective in treating depression. What I've noticed though is that I frequently get a lot of hesitation with my patients to do therapy. They feel that somehow there is a negative stigma about going. What I tell them though is that I see it as, "physical therapy for the brain". When you injure your knee you wouldn't have second thoughts about going to a physical therapist and learning exercises that help your knee get better. We wouldn't look at that person and think that they are weak, we see them as being smart and taking control of their health.
It's no different going to a mental health therapist. Sometimes all you need to do is learn a few good mental exercises to work on to get your brain back in good health. So don't sell a good therapist short. They can do wonders in treating depression. The second thing that I recommend is often a dirty word in many of our vocabularies.
That's the "E" word, or "Exercise". You heard me right. Exercise is very effective in treating depression. Studies show that both High intensity and moderate intensity exercise can be effective in treating mild to moderate depression. I always thought that runners were crazy when they referred to their "runners high". I still think they are crazy but there is an actual release of the chemicals in the brain that happens that can affect mood in a positive way.
When we talk about moderate exercise, it's been shown to release certain chemicals that help the nerves grow and create new connections in the brain that are responsible for mood. Just like antidepressants, it takes a few weeks for this to start to work. I recommend that you do at least 5 days of at least 30 minutes a day of some sort of exercise. Pick something that you enjoy, and if you don't enjoy it, at least pick something that you don't hate that much. Unfortunately when you are depressed exercise may be the last thing you want to do but stick with it and you will start to notice a difference. The Third thing you need to do, is work your diet. Here in the United States our diet is horrible. The things we oftentimes call food is usually garbage.
I did an earlier video on simple steps for a healthier diet, you can click on the link here above if you are interested. As part of it, I walked around my local Walmart and filmed what was being sold. If you step back and really look at what we are putting into our bodies, most of which we can't even pronounce, its obvious that all these chemicals, preservatives and additives are wreaking havoc on our bodies. This isnt food, this is edible drugs meant keep us hooked. "Bet you can't eat just one" is real. Another analogy is that If we put bad gas into your car you get bad performance. Our bodies are no different. Stay away from the processed foods, cut back or eliminate the refined carbs and sugars from your diet.
Decrease your caffeine intake-Did you know that higher amounts of caffeine can actually decrease your levels of serotonin? But its not just about what you shouldn't eat. We need to focus on having a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and healthy proteins. Eating foods higher in Omega 3 fatty acids like Salmon, mackerel, sardines, healthy fats like coconut oils have found to be serotonin enhancing foods which can have a positive impact on your mood. The fourth thing you need to do is manage your stress. Long term, chronic stress increases the level of a hormone called cortisol which causes physical changes in your body and your brain increasing your risk for depression. Take an honest look at your life.
What things are causing you stress. Are you stuck in a job you hate? are you having relationship problems? are you living with feelings of guilt or have you overscheduled your life? Sit down and do an real brutal assessment of yourself and where you are at. Write down which things you can change and what things you can't. Work on changing what you can. Those things you think you can't change, figure out how you can better deal with it or oftentimes there really are ways we can change those, we just may need to think in a different way.
This is something that a good counselor can help you work through. Besides this exercise, learn some better stress management techniques such as meditation, prayer, Yoga or massage. All of these things have shown to be helpful so start to incorporate one or all of them into your life and see what kind of a difference it can make. The fifth thing that you need to work on getting adequate sleep. I know this is a hard one. Believe me, I have 5 kids and most of them are teenagers who don't feel like they need to go to bed.
Sleep is a struggle for us all but it is so important. We need to get our 7-8 hours of sleep as an adult and even more for our teenagers to have optimal health. Sleep is when the body repairs itself. Its when all the nerves in the brain solidify and lay down new memories. When we don't get the sleep we need, everything is off. If you are having trouble sleeping work with your doctor to find ways to improve it. Make sure you aren't dealing with sleep apnea, a condition where you don't breathe well at night. There is a strong correlation between sleep apnea and depression. Get online and do some research using the term "sleep hygiene" for thoughts and ideas that you can do to improve your sleep. The sixth recommendation that I have for you is to surround yourself with good people and influences.
We as humans are a social species. We need human interaction. Unfortunately one of the biggest problems that you face when you are dealing with depression is the desire to isolate yourself. You start to see the world as against you or that it doesn't need or want you, so the best thing that you can think to do is isolate yourself. This is the worst thing that you can do. Surround yourself with friends and family and stay away from those who are constantly trying to pull you down. Negativity often breeds negativity. If you are surrounded by people who are dragging you down, who are using you or don't have your best interest in mind then get away.
If you are in a destructive relationship find ways to either improve it or leave it. OK so the seventh and last one that I'm going to talk about today can also be one of the hardest when you are suffering from depression but I think can also be one of the most effective. I want you to get out and serve somebody else. Get involved in charity work. Find a neighbor who is in need, volunteer at a homeless shelter. It's amazing how when we forget ourself in the service of other people what a positive impact that has on our mental health. We are ever living in a self-centered, me-first society and this is having a negative impact on our overall health as well as our mental health. Get out and make a regular habit of serving and looking out for others and you will see a positive impact in your own life. If you struggle finding opportunities that make a fit might I suggest a website for you. For those in the United States there is a site out there called Justserve.org that you can go to that shows volunteer opportunities in most communities.
So get out and help somebody else and see what a difference it will make in your life. Depression is a real condition and it can have a huge impact on your life. There are many different ways that you can treat it and oftentimes it takes several different avenues to find something that is going to work for you. It's important to remember though that if these or other things you are trying are not working there are other options out there. Sometimes despite all you do the symptoms still will not go away. If you find yourself in that position go talk to your doctor. Sometimes just like when you have diabetes or blood pressure you need to take medication to help control it. Depression is no different, and taking a medication doesn't mean that you somehow have failed or are weak. If you are interested in learning more about medication options to treat depression check out my playlist on different options that are available to treat depression. The best part of these suggestions though is that they can be used no matter where you are in your depression treatment.
Adding these suggestions to your treatment even when you are taking medication can really help. Treating depression can be a long term game and treating the condition from many different angles can give you the best chance of living a life where this no longer controls you. This list of suggestions certainly doesn't cover all the non-medication options for treating depression. I'm interested in hearing about things that you have done to help your depression and even better what your experiences have been with any of these suggestions. Go ahead and comment below and let us know. Remember though, My purpose in sharing this information is to help give information that you can think about and discuss with your own doctor.