I have dealt with depression for my entire life and in so doing I have developed ways to deal with it when it comes without resorting to drugs or supplements. I have tried medications in the past but they never worked very well and I didn't like the side effects and I just don't like the idea of them. I also tried all the natural supplements out there, they too didn't work and they are rather expensive. Now at the ripe old age of 48 I think I have a pretty good handle on fighting the monster of depression through natural depression remedies without using drugs or supplements.
First and foremost when seeking natural remedies for depression is prevention. I use exercise, a light box, and eating well to prevent the onslaught of depression. These methods do help and if you aren't exercising on a regular basis I would highly recommend it. Start out slow and build up to at least ½ hour a day and if you can do it outside all the better, try to sweat (I have this thing about sweating; I think it's good for you :). This alone will help you to feel better almost instantly. When I exercise inside I do so with a light box in front of me. I did some research and there seems to be ample evidence that a certain amount of light helps to defray depression. So I exercise in front of the light box and it does seem to help, but then again it could just be in my head :). Lastly, eating well helps me to keep from becoming depressed in the first place. I don't know about you but feeling like a fat pig never helps me to get out of a depression.
Oh and I didn't mention one other common remedy for depression and that is getting enough sleep. I purposely didn't mention this because usually when you are depressed you get too much sleep (or at least I do). So a little common sense goes a long way regarding sleep...don't get too much, make sure to get enough...enough said.
Ok, now that we have the basics for prevention taken care of what can you do when you are sliding down the slippery path of depression in spite of your best efforts at prevention?
Here are a few things that have helped me in the past:
1, DO SOMETHING OUTSIDE:
This can be something as mundane as chopping wood to playing with your dog in your yard for awhile or playing your guitar, but whatever it is do it outside for at least ½ hour and longer if you can.
2. DO SOMETHING CREATIVE:
Make something, cook something, work on your car, learn to knit, mend some clothes, bake bread, paint a picture, create a You Tube Video, write a poem (it may be a sad poem but hey some of the saddest poems are the best). Write for hubpages or wordpress! Sometimes just getting something on paper (or a computer screen) will make you feel better. Some of my best poetry was created when I felt really down.
3. GO SOMEWHERE:
Take a drive, go to a movie, go to a bookstore, to to a museum, visit with a friend, go window shopping. Try take a short trip for a weekend to another place. Change up the scenery. This will help to distract yourself and sometimes that is all you need to help your body lift out of the depression. Make a list of places to go to when you aren't depressed and refer to it when you are.
4. DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE:
It always helps to get out of your own head and also I have found that misery loves company! Find someone else who is hurting and help them, it will make you feel better. One thing I would avoid are inordinately happy people. Inordinately happy people make me more depressed when I am already depressed, if you are not like that then go for it but that's the way I am so I avoid them like the plague when feeling low.
5. GET A PET:
This is is more of a long term solution but it really helps. Some of the greatest joy in my life was with my dog and there is nothing more wonderful than having a companion greet you in the morning and when you come home. Also, it helps to have something to take care of so I would heartily recommend getting a pet. I had one and I can truly say he was the joy of my life in so many ways.
6. DEAL WITH YOUR ISSUES INTELLECTUALLY:
What do I mean about this? If there is a particular problem you are having that is causing you to succumb to depression, deal with that problem, research solutions, talk to a therapist or with friends and come up with a game plan. Don't let specific problems go unanswered to fester into a long term depression but search out solutions and then put a plan into action. Make a goal and take a step towards that goal, even if it is a small step, then figure out the next step and do that, don't think about the endgame, just think about the next step. The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time! Just working on the problem will give you hope and help your depression.
7. CUT OUT THE SUGAR!
Taking sugar out of your diet will elevate your mood tremendously. Stop eating all refined sugar and replace it with a limited amount of honey or maple syrup and/or fresh fruit. In less than a week you will notice your depression lifting, anxiety fleeing and a sense of calm that wasn't there before.
8. LAST BUT NOT LEAST:
Call a friend. I recommend this last because I don't like to burden my friends with my bouts of depression. Sometimes it can wear down a relationship. But, there are people out there that are just plain good to talk to (you don't even have to tell them you are depressed) so I definitely didn't want to leave this out, besides all that good company is a balm to the soul.
I hope that some of these ideas will help you as they have helped me. Depression is not about character flaws or moral deficiencies, depression is a problem like any other and there are methods that help. In the end you have to get to know yourself and what works for you, there are no hard and fast rules. These ideas have helped me and I hope that they will help you too!
Good luck, God bless and just remember this too shall pass!
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passionatelearnr on September 09, 2015:
hey,Brie i too have written about depression.there's one common tip in yours and mine sugesstions--keeping pets.It really helps.
Rick on August 02, 2011:
Thanks for the wonderful post! I've been suffering from severe depression for a few weeks now, and its been pretty rough. I bought a sunlight desk lamp to keep next to my bedside to help improve my mood and its helped a little bit. Hopefully some of these suggestions will stick and I can get out of this. Thanks!
Marc Carillet on July 30, 2011:
I have been on prozac form almost 17yrs. In the beginning it worked good. Have gone off a few times for short times but I feel better when I take it. Since it has been so many yrs I worry what side effects it could have on me. The doctor wants me to take cheap prozac 40mg.a day now but not to sure if I should. I would love to hear from anyone who has been on it a long time and if its ok.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on April 02, 2011:
I use a Vitamin D Lamp and it seems to help too.
WindingPaths from Michigan on April 02, 2011:
Excellent! I also just discovered (this winter) that if you live where it is often cloudy (like Michigan) you can benefit from vit. D3; and this is the first year I didn't think I was losing my mind by March from all the gloominess of winter!!
deepthir on March 21, 2011:
I personally found the steps very realistic and something all of us can adopt for a better life. Working on a problem step by step without thinking about the outcome is something i realized i need and will definitely give that a try. Thank you for sharing!
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on February 27, 2011:
Thank YOU for commenting Kamran, glad to be of help.
Kamran100 on February 27, 2011:
depression is a world wide problem. today it is very common and your hub is providing a good piece of information, thank for sharing with us, nice work!
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on February 27, 2011:
Thanks Cheryle, you just made my day!
Cheryle on February 27, 2011:
I need to be very aware of the first signs when my mom is in a funk and when she is turning the point of starting to spiral into a depressive episode. I try to keep myself in check as well -- as I know that there are not just outside influences involved, but a genetic link as well.
I believe in the natural before the use of the manufactured, however, the combined use of both have helped my mom deal with basic functional daily living. The methods and resources that you expressed has increased her enjoyment tremendously as she focuses on taking it one day at a time with greater enjoyment in living.
Thank you for giving people another angle at looking at depression - an empathetic, humanistic, holistic angle. You are helping to lift the still help stigma, that is still, to some degree, entrenched in our society.
You and others are helping to lift the heavy weight of the dampened veil of depression. It is getting better for people who have this predisposition.
I respect your work.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 10, 2011:
Thanks, I think that was excellent advice...take her to look at some, that might help her decide. Thanks for writing.
fucsia on January 10, 2011:
To mother of friend of mine, that suffer of depression after the loss of the husband, I recommended to take a kitten. Now I have a confirmation that my tip was right.... But she has not decided yet ...
All your tips are very useful: I am convinced that they can work even better than a drug.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on January 10, 2011:
Thanks for writing, I think it's important to stress natural methods because the medication that they want to give people is very dangerous and in many cases not necessary. Good luck and God Bless
Lisa Stover from Pittsburgh PA on January 10, 2011:
Great Hub! I also have suffered from depression for all my life and I'm starting to figure some things out that help me, I don't take medication at all either. Exercise DOES help, it is hard to get up and do it when you are depressed but you feel DO better afterwards! I'm not very big on it, so I just turn on the radio and dance, even 30 mins of being silly dancing around will put you in a better state of mind! Thanks for sharing!
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on December 20, 2010:
You're welcome I hope it helps rune.
rune on December 20, 2010:
Thank you for posting this
denden mangubat from liloan, cebu, philippines on October 03, 2010:
advices on depression should be realistic and hopeful
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on April 11, 2010:
Thanks for the comments rosariomontenegro, however I do not allow outside urls on my hub, if you would like to resend it without the url that would be fine.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on March 30, 2010:
Yeah, I loved having my dog and will get another one soon. Thanks for commenting.
jitu66 from New Delhi on March 30, 2010:
Getting a pet is really a great idea. Pet is a symbol of unconditional love.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on March 28, 2010:
I know what you mean, I had a dog and I sure do miss him. Someday I'll get another.
Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on March 28, 2010:
Great article on how to be proactive about depression. My two cats are a life saver for me.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on March 26, 2010:
I've never tried it, maybe I will, thanks.
Portamenteff from Western Colorado, USA on March 26, 2010:
Well, I"m sorry that you suffer from this affliction. I think everyone goes through chemical imbalances sometimes. I've found that in winter, St. John's wort helps. It makes you more sensitive to the sun, and you will get more 'therapeutic' effect of it. In summer, I try to exercise outside a lot. It seems to help with the sunlight, and fresh air, as well as tons of oxygen in me from breathing harder.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on March 03, 2010:
Sunbunny, what herbs do you use?
sunbunny from Canada on March 03, 2010:
Unfortunately exercise doesn`t work for me. I use mostly herbs. They are great and have no side effects. Never have used meds, some of them can be so addictive, worse than a cocaine!
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on March 02, 2010:
Thank you, I will look into it.
Dan on March 02, 2010:
There is a great book out called " The Depression Cure" by Stephen S. Ilardi,PhD. I suffer with bouts but my son has it bad. We tried 2 different meds with terrible side affects so I am trying everything in the book. I am seeing results in my son after 1 week. You can check out the reviews at Amazon.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on February 25, 2010:
We all need help now and then.
DaveHPT from Melbourne, Australia on February 23, 2010:
good advice Brie.
It's important to have a strategy to deal with depression the moment you recognize that it is starting to come on, and just like you said, getting active, eating right and spending some time outdoors is the best place to start.
Russ Baleson from Sandhurst, United Kingdom on February 20, 2010:
Hi Brie, this is really good, a complex subject yet simply written. I too am affected. I love the way you've captured the simple activities that I agree, certainly help prevent or lift one when slipping down. So many people suffer from depression and I believe there is place for more of this type of hub. Thank you! Russ
John on February 20, 2010:
My teenage son suffers was diagnosed with depression and was perscribed Lexapro. After much research into this drug, i declined to give it to him and decided to try a more natural approach. I started giving him Sam-e with a vitamin B-100 every day. This combo has tremendous testimonies of success and is not only safe to ingest, but beneficial to your health. After two weeks of the program, he says he feels better, as in more excited and energitic towards things.
Brie Hoffman (author) from Manhattan on February 17, 2010:
Thanks Robert: I don't really know the difference between depression and "the blues", I just know that I have had to deal with this my whole life and these methods help me to keep it at bay. I have no judgment against people using medication or whatever helps them, I just prefer not to and if you can make it better without then all the better, in my opinion.
Robert on February 17, 2010:
These are excellent ideas. I especially find light, exercise, and helping others most effective. Sometimes I read the Bible or Craigslist Rant & Rave and realize others have it worse. And I hate loose ends. They wear me down so I get those resolved quickly. And set positive goals, like a trip to Paris or a cruise then strive to make it happen. Depression is not the same as having the occasional blues. I think depression is genetic. It's an ongoing struggle to stay level with life. But I also believe in mind over genes. Whoops! Back to work! Thanks for a great post.