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Depression Relief and Prevention using Alternative Therapies
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Depression Relief and Prevention using Natural and Alternative Therapies
Increasingly there is now available a wide range of natural, self-help measures and alternate therapies which many people find useful for some types of depression, they are used alone or sometimes in conjunction with other options - anti depressants or psychological treatments
Tthe more serious biological types of depression - melancholic and psychotic depression are more unlikely to respond to these alternative and natural therapies alone but some people find them helpful if used in conjuction with the usual physical treatments.

Many people prefer to not manage their depression using drug therapy, they choose from the number of alternative therapy options available

If you prefer a more natural, self-help or home remedy approach there are several natural therapy options available

Alternative Therapy options
Alternative and Complementary treatments include therapies such as cognitive therapy, counselling or psychotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, group therapy, art, music or drama therapy, or aromatherapy, light therapy and yoga which can all be supplied by therapists or can be self administered.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
    Cognitive therapy is a powerful form of psychotherapy based on the belief that psychological problems are the products of faulty ways of thinking; it is a self-help technique that combats depression and other negative emotions by consciously changing the way we think. It focuses on identifying negative thoughts and developing new ways of thinking about situations. The therapy has proved to be effective in helping many people cope with depression. It is usually considered to be a short term solution typically 4-8 sessions can be sufficient.
    We may think that because we are depressed, we are never going to get better and that your life is depressing. This in turn will make us more depressed and we can end up locked in a cycle of negative thoughts and depression.
    The cognitive behavioural therapist will be teach hoe to identify fears and recognise the symptoms when we feel ourselves becoming depressed. The next time we feel those symptoms developing, we should be able to understand why we are behaving that way and start to avoid it.
  • Counselling or psychotherapy
    There are many different forms of counselling and therapy now available and it can be difficult to choose which will suit you.
    Often doctors have a counselling service that they will refer patients to or they might be able to recommend one to you.
    The majority of counselling and therapy treatments are called 'talking treatments' because they encourage patients to talk through their problems and identify any areas in their lives that may be triggering depression.
    These counselling and therapies can be extremely helpful for people with depression, enabling them to speak in confidence about events or triggers that may have first caused the illness. Often, being able to discuss your deepest feelings or traumas with trained therapists can lead to a feeling of release as if a burden has been lifted, and can contribute to a permanent solution. The different types of therapy suitable for depressive people include psychotherapy, psychiatry, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and counselling.
  • Massage therapy
    Massage therapy is often helpful for people with depression, it produces chemical changes in the brain that result in a feeling of relaxation, calm and well-being. It also reduces levels of stress hormones - such as adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine - which in some people can trigger depression.
    To learn more about Massage Therapies see our:- Guide to Massage Therapy and Therapists

  • Acupuncture
    Acupuncture is an ancient form of healing developed within the traditional medicines of China , Japan and other eastern countries. Acupuncture is based on the principle that stimulation of specific areas on the skin affects the functioning of certain organs of the body. Fine needles are inserted into specific points (called acupuncture points) just below the surface of the skin.
    Treatment aims to rebalance the flow of vital energy, or qi, and focuses on points along certain meridians, such as the heart meridian.
    It is believed that acupuncture can help to relieve depression, along with anxiety, nervous tension and stress.

    To learn more about Acupuncture see our:- Guide to Acupuncture and Acupuncturists

  • Art therapy
    Art therapy is like talk therapy a means of connecting with your emotions only instead of words, creative expression becoming the outlet. Art forms most often chosen by therapists include: painting, drawing, sculpting, dance, drama/storytelling and music.
    Art Therapy benefits people by providing a bridge between their inner thoughts, feelings and communication with others. Often patients in Art Therapy sessions comment that without creating a piece of art first in a session they would find it difficult to talk directly about themselves. The client can communicate using the art work to explain. The art work helps to open up communication and increase self awareness. Using the example of someone who feels they are trapped in a dark tunnel, this image could be utilised in an art therapy session as a starting point for the client to describe their experience.

  • Music therapy
    Music Therapy consists of using music therapeutically to address physical, psychological, cognitive, behavioural and/or social functioning.
    Music therapists will use music activities, both instrumental and vocal, designed to bring about changes that are non-musical in nature. The therapy programs are usuall custom designed for each individual and often with the therapists working as part of a multidisciplinary team of healers. Both individual and group therapy are offered based on the needs of the individual
    Slow, relaxing music helps some people deal with the root causes of their depression, such as anger, frustration, sadness or anxiety. Listening to the music for at least 20 minutes each day can help slow down your heart rate and other body functions and can help you focus on your feelings.
  • Light therapy
    Light Therapy is an alternative therapy used to help relieve a variety disorders, ranging from seasonal affective disorder, sleep disorders, chronic pain and depression. Light therapy uses bright, colored, and low-level forms of light delivering beams to various areas of the body in order to trigger hormone release and healing. Practiced by physicians, physical therapists, and psychologists.
    Light therapy involves exposing someone to bright light for around a half an hour each day. The bright light can be either in the form of conventional fluorescent lamps or bright sunlight.
    Getting enough sunlight has been shown to be effective for seasonal mood changes that happen in the darker winter months where depression occurs on a regular basis in particular seasons (especially autumn and winter) and then goes away in the alternate seasons (spring and summer). This condition is more common in the northern hemisphere..Exposure to light in the morning helps the body's sleep/wake cycle function properly. Production of serotonin, a brain chemical that key in influencing our mood, is turned on in the morning upon exposure to light. During the winter when there is less sunlight, serotonin levels can drop, making us feel tired and prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
  • Aromatherapy.
    Aromatherapy uses essential oils taken from plants and flowers to produce different emotional and physiological reactions boosting your physical and emotional health.
    It is well known that fragrance can lift and enhance your mood. The aroma of many plants, such as orange-blossom, neroli, petistitgrain or jasmine, sandalwood, and ylang ylang can all help to relieve depression and anxiety.

    There are approximately 400 essential oils that will have different effects on your body and brain - they are used to relax, invigorate and de-stress. The oils will usually be massaged into your body, but they can also used in your bath or inhaled using an oil burner. You can also buy essential oils yourself, or find an aromatherapist to give treatment or offer advice and help.
    To learn more about Aromatherapy see our:- Guide to Aromatherapy and Aromatherapists
    Here we descibe Aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.

  • Yoga.
    Yoga is an ancient Indian exercise philosophy that provides a gentle form of exercise and stress management. It consists of postures or 'asanas' that are held for a short period of time and are often synchronised with the breathing. It is very helpful for reducing stress and anxiety which are often precursors to depression.


Natural Therapies
Many people prefer natural therapies to treat depression. However, some people with depression may feel that home remedies can help cope with the condition.

  • Nutritional Therapy.
    Nutritional therapy offers a way of treating clinical depression often triggered by chemical imbalances in the brain or nutritional deficiencies. Most convential medicine uses drugs to correct the brain's chemical upsets, nutritional therapy employs a range of nutritional supplements to do the same thing.
  • Herbal Medicine.
    Several herbs can restore function to the nervous system, ease muscle tension, and promote sleep, and effect other mood-altering actions. However, they usually work slowly. St. John's worthas long been used to treat emotional upsets. This herb's flowering tops are commonly taken in the form of a tea or tincture. According to a recent study, St. John's wort eased the symptoms of mild to moderate depression for two-thirds of the people tested. Other helpful herbs include:
    •lady's slipper
    Using an herbal supplement requires caution and should be taken only after consulting your doctor as some supplements could interact with medicines that you are also taking, and use could be dangerous for people with certain conditions
  • Homeopathy.
    Homoeopathy is a system of medicine that treats the whole person, as as well as the symptoms of the disease.
    The remedies are made by grinding plants or other substances and then dissolving them in alcohol to produce the 'mother tincture'.
    From this mother tincture the remedies are made after diluting (usually 100:1) in alcohol or water and then a process of repetitive violent shaking that is believed to energise the medicine.

    Homeopathic treatment for depression stimulates the mind and body to return to a healthy, fully functioning state. For example, a homeopathic remedy may help someone open up to express himself better and talk about troubles and concerns, thereby furthering the recovery process. This therapy uses highly diluted doses of natural substances, which would cause the symptoms of depression if given in full strength to a healthy person. The substances are from plant, mineral, and animal sources.
    A remedy is tailored specifically to individual patients and depends on their particular emotional and physical symptoms, as well as their general state of health. Common remedies for depression include:

    •Arsenicum album:- made from white arsenic.
    •Aurum metallicum:- made from gold
    •Calcium carbonicum:- made from the inner layer of an oyster shell
    •China officinalis
    •Ignatia amara
    • Natrium carbonicum
    •Natrum muriaticum
    •Pulsatilla nigricans
    •Sepia:- made from cuttlefish ink.

  • Natural Therapies - Self Help
    There are a range of self-help measures and natural therapies which can be useful for some types of depression, either alone or in conjunction with physical treatments (such as antidepressants) or psychological treatments

    Regular exercise is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to improve mood Aerobic exercise, releases mood-elevating chemicals in the brain and can decrease stress hormones.
    Taking a brisk walk each morning for at least 30 minutes five days a week. going to the gym, signing up for dance classes, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, or gardening can all be enjoyable ways of taking exercise.

    Some practical, common sense techniques you can use to relieve Depression
    Get some rest and relaxation by getting plenty of sleep, Overtiredness and depleted nerves create a feeling of depression.
    Eat healthily avoiding junk food and too many sugary foods.
    Avoid alcohol which is known to aggravate a depressed mood.
    Learn to laugh. Laughing actually triggers the same endorphins that are affected by exercise.
    Think happy thoughts. A recent study found that people who learn to have a more optimistic attitude are less likely to become depressed--even if they were naturally pessimists. Changing the way you perceive life can have a dramatic affect on your mental health.
    Deep Breathing Exercises: witin ten minutes, you can oxygenate your body and relieve your depression by practicing deep breathing and relaxation.
    Change of environment, such as occasional holidays are extremely helpful.
    Volunteering and helping others is another way to focus on someone other than yourself and your own problems.
    Keep yourself busy. Take up projects and hobbies such as gardening, woodworking, traveling, and other projects. This will prevent you from dwelling on whatever is making you feel unhappy.
    Drugs, caffeine, and cigarettes can induce depression.
    Melodious, harmonious and soothing music can uplift and improve the outlook on life.
    Take some time to sit down and analyze the situation, if you can pinpoint the source of your depression, you'll feel a lot better and understanding the problem can help you do something about it.

Books to help with depression

Scores of self-help books and booklets have been written on the subject and have proved to be very successful, we have included some that will help you in your quest to help alleviate depression.


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