Depression occurs on a spectrum of severity. Some people experience acute episodes and others experience decades of chronic depression. It starts from any number of factors from social interactions, family issues, diet, hormonal imbalances, and more. Usually, it is a combination of factors that contribute to the onset of depression. One option to treat depression is the use of antidepressant drugs. However, this is not a viable or desirable route for everyone. Some people end up struggling with depression due to the use of drugs or they have a history of substance abuse and are looking to find a non-pharmaceutical route for treatment. Others simply prefer to attempt alternative methods before going that route. In order to know how to get out of depression without the use of drugs, it helps to understand why the condition developed in the first place.
What Triggers Depression
- Major life events or changes (ie: moving or starting a new job)
- Financial struggles
- The death of a loved one
- Relationship issues (ie: family conflict, divorce, infidelity)
- Childbirth (ie: postpartum depression)
- Chemical substance abuse
- Work stress (ie: losing a major client, or taking on a big project)
These are just some examples of what can trigger depression and is by no means a comprehensive list. Any stressful event or drastic change could be a reason for depression, and sometimes there is no one thing that could be pinpointed to understand why it develops.
Not Sure What Triggered Your Depression?
If you are not sure what triggered your depression, or even when it started, then a great place to start is seeking a medical professional. Ideally, a patient would meet with both a medical doctor and a psychiatrist. Physicians can run tests to see if there is a physical or hormonal indication of why you may be experiencing feelings of depression. Psychiatrists and Psychologists can help identify social, behavioral, and emotional factors that may have contributed.
Non-Medication Based Depression Therapies
Therapy sessions with a psychiatrist or psychologist don’t just help with identifying the psychological issue that leads to depression but also helping work through them. Therapists will often assign activities and exercises that allow their clients to develop an understanding of their thoughts and actions, as well as build positive habits. Many psychiatrists will offer to combine therapy with medication, but clients always have the ability to decline medication if they are not comfortable with it.
Simple lifestyle changes such as exercising more can actually have a major impact on one’s mental health. Exercise can actually naturally trigger the release of hormones that promote energy and positive thoughts. This can put the individual into a positive cycle and frees them of depression
Get A Proper Amount of Sleep
Too much sleep can be just as unhealthy as too little sleep. Some people need more sleep than others, but 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night is a normal range that works well for most people. Make sure to set aside time to settle down and give yourself enough time to get adequate sleep, but also set alarms and wake up when you are supposed to. Avoid caffeine(this includes tea and soda) in the late afternoon and evening as it can make falling asleep difficult for many people. Instead, try going for a short walk or doing some jumping jacks for a boost of energy.
Adjust Your Diet
We all know that our diet is important to be physically healthy. What most people don’t realize is how much what we consume affects our mental wellbeing. Fast food fried in low-quality oils and loads of simple carbs can weigh you down physically and emotionally. Alcohol is one thing some people consume to try and overcome feeling sad. In reality, alcohol is a depressant that amplifies feelings of sadness. On the other hand, adding certain foods to your diet can fight depression and boost your mood. Food and nutrients that are well known to help with depression include tree nuts (such as cashews, walnuts, and almonds), lean protein (such as wild-caught fish), and probiotics (yogurt and kombucha are common options).
Although it is easy to let our minds wander, we can control what we think, and our thoughts are tied to our feelings. Keep a journal where you write down your thoughts. This brings awareness to negative thoughts, allows an opportunity to release these thoughts, and creates space to reframe the thoughts into positive ones. Additionally, meditation can help improve breathing and reduce stress. Challenging your negative thoughts is a critical aspect of fighting depression.
When you don’t feel like doing anything, it is understandable that even doing these small things may be challenging. The good news is you don’t have to do it all at once and you most certainly don’t have to do it alone. Take it one day at a time and start where you feel most comfortable. Even taking a minute a few times a day to meditate is a great start. Also, go easy on yourself. Figuring out how to get yourself out of a depressive episode or chronic depression, without drugs, is not a process that happens overnight. However, making these changes can lead the way for lifetime improvements in mental and physical health.