Depression is a Problem, and Drugs aren’t the Only Solution
Depression isn’t just a bad mood. Depression, also known as clinical depression or major depression, is a pervasive pattern of sadness, despondency, hopelessness, or sense of worthlessness that lasts longer than two weeks (Hall-Flavin, 2009). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 out of every 4 Americans will experience depression at some point in his or her life (2010).
Large pharmaceutical companies would like Americans to believe that drugs offer the only hope of recovery. While prescription antidepressants have provided help and healing for thousands of sufferers, and may be the best choice for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, there are other options for those who cannot or do not want to pop pills. Read on to learn about other things that can provide depression relief.
The Exercise Connection
Recent science suggests that regular exercise may be as effective as drugs in treating major depression. In a study published by the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, 45% percent of patients doing regular, structured exercise were no longer depressed after 16 weeks, while 47% of those taking a popular antidepressant had achieved the same level of recovery (Norton, 2007).
Since exercise is free and carries no risk of drug interactions or side effects, it is certainly worth trying if you’re fighting depression (or even if you’ve just got a case of the blues). However, when you’re depressed, “getting some exercise” is a lot easier said than done. Depression makes you tired. Depression makes you not want to do anything.
Exercising for short periods of time can help. Going to the gym may not be possible, and a 30 minute walk may seem overwhelming, but 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes after dinner may be doable. If not, even smaller segments, such as marching in place for 5 minutes, can still provide relief. If you can, exercise outside: daylight and nature also help relieve depression symptoms.
Changing One’s Thinking
Doctors aren’t sure what causes depression, but they (just like anyone who has ever experienced depression) knows that it usually comes with negative thoughts. While negative thoughts can produce feelings of sadness, the reverse is also true. If feeling sad has kept you from working, keeping your house clean, or just doing the things you need to do, pretty soon you’ll be hearing yourself thinking things like “I can’t even do the dishes…I am such a worthless failure.”
Learning to recognize and change these kinds of thought patterns is the goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a proven technique for treating depression. A licensed therapist can teach you how to use the principles of CBT to aid your recovery, but if you can’t afford mental health care, or simply don’t want to go that route, consider MoodGYM, an online, self-paced CBT program created by the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University, which is free to all participants.
Need Help Right Now? Want to Know More?
Need more help?
If you’re feeling suicidal, call 911 or the national Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE immediately.
If you live in another country, look online or in your phone book for a hotline you can call.
For more information on depression treatment, check out these great Bright Hub articles.
Hall-Flavin, Kenneth (MD). (2010). What Does the Term ‘Clinical Depression’ Mean? MayoClinic.com. Retrieved 15 July, 2010 from https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/clinical-depression/AN01057
National Institute of Mental Health. (2010). The Numbers Count: Mood Disorders in America. Nimh.gov. Retrieved 15 July, 2010 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml
Norton, Amy. (2007, 17 September). Exercise on Par with Drugs for Aiding Depression. Rueters Health. Retrieved 15 July, 2010 from https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSCOL96941220070919