Experts on whether it is possible to ‘overcome depression without medication’


While medication can be helpful for some individuals, it is not the only option for managing depression. Medications are reserved for individuals with severe or clinical depressionWhile medication can be helpful for some individuals, it is not the only option for managing depression. Medications are reserved for individuals with severe or clinical depression (Pic source: Freepik)

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that requires a proper diagnosis and treatment by a professional psychiatrist or a psychologist. However, according to experts, not all depression patients require antidepressants for recovery, and there are various natural solutions that can prove to be extremely effective in managing depression. Shedding light on the same, Dr Daniel G Amen, a psychiatrist, took to Instagram to share some natural solutions for depression. “Can you overcome depression without medication? Absolutely,” said Dr Amen in a video.

“Head-to-head against antidepressants exercise was found to be equally effective. Head-to-head against antidepressants omega-3 fatty acids have been found to be equally effective. Learning how to kill ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts) was found to be equally effective. Similarly, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been found to be an effective treatment against depression,” he added.

While taking medication can be easier and helpful in the short run, Dr Amen stresses the importance of natural solutions for depression in the long run.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. (@doc_amen)

Natural solutions for depression

Below are the nine common things Dr Amen advises patients before prescribing antidepressant medication. They are:

1. Check for and (if necessary) correct thyroid hormone abnormalities.
2. Work with a nutritionally informed physician to optimise your folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, homocysteine, and omega-3 fatty acids. “I’m convinced that without doing these nutritional fixes, patients are less likely to respond to the medications,” he said.
3. Try an elimination diet for three weeks.
4. Add colourful fruits and vegetables to your diet.
5. Eliminate the ANTs (automatic negative thoughts).
6. Exercise — walk like you are late, for 45 minutes four times a week. This has been found to be as effective as antidepressant medication.
7. Add one of the following supplements to your daily routine: Saffron 30 mg/day; curcumin, not as turmeric root but as longvida, which is much more efficiently absorbed; zinc as citrate or glycinate 30 mg (tolerable upper level is 40 mg/day for adults, 34 mg/day for adolescents, less for younger kids); or magnesium glycinate, citrate, or malate, 100–500 mg with 30 mg of vitamin B6.
8. Consume probiotics daily.
9. Try morning bright light therapy with a therapeutic therapy lamp of 10,000 lux for 20–30 minutes.

ALSO READ | Feeling constantly depressed, irritated, and having bad mood swings may indicate a deficiency of this hormone

Can you actually overcome depression without medication?

“Yes, it is possible to overcome depression without antidepressants,” Dr Mazher Ali, psychiatrist, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, CARE Hospitals told “While medication can be helpful for some individuals, it is not the only option for managing depression. Medications are reserved for individuals with severe or clinical depression,” he added.

He added that in mild to moderate depression, “only psychotherapy (ie talk therapy)” may be considered. “Lifestyle changes, such as dietary modifications, exercise, journaling, counseling, and therapy, can all play a role in overcoming depression,” he said.

What lifestyle changes can help in overcoming depression?

Lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on mental health. Speaking with, Dr Amrita Roy, Assistant Professor, Jindal Institute of Behavioural Sciences shared, “Many studies have shown that lifestyle changes, including a nutrient-rich diet, physical activity, meditation, sleep, recreation, and relaxation, are potential front-line management choices alongside medication and counseling.(1-4) In recent years, the effects of yoga on health have been vastly studied and have shown fruitful outcomes for various mental health conditions, including depression.(5,6)”.

What dietary changes are helpful in fighting depression?

Dietary changes, in particular, can support overall well-being and help manage depression. “Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds), saffron, curcumin (found in turmeric), fruits, and vegetables can provide important nutrients that support brain health,” shared Dr Ali.

Dr Roy added, “Diets low in carbohydrates and proteins can also precipitate depression, as they play an essential role in the functioning of neurotransmitters”.

Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for brain health. (Pic source: Pixabay) Including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is good for brain health. (Pic source: Freepik)

On the other hand, dependence on alcohol and other substances may increase the risk for both depressive and anxiety disorders in addition to its socio-economic impact. “Processed foods must be avoided as they lack nutrients and do not contribute any good to our health,” said Dr Roy.

ALSO READ | Protein and mental health: Understanding the critical connection

Dietary supplements to help overcome depression

Nutritional deficiencies are known to be linked with several physical health conditions, such as deficiency of iron and vitamin B12 can cause anemia; deficiency of iodine can lead to thyroid disorder. “Similarly, nutritional factors are also intertwined with mental health, and deficiency of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals has been linked to depression (2),” shared Dr Roy.

“Supplements such as magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, and vitamin B6 have been studied for their potential benefits in managing depression,” added Dr Ali.

While some individuals may find them helpful, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplements to ensure they are appropriate for your specific situation.

ALSO READ | Know the ‘top anxiety triggers’ and ways you can manage them

Can exercise help fight depression?

Exercise is an evidence-based modality in the management of clinical depression. “Many researchers have demonstrated that moderate-intensity and aerobic exercise regimens for 20 to 30 minutes, three to five times per week, are efficacious in treating depression.(3,4) Walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, jogging, or running regularly can effectively fight depression,” said Dr Roy.

Walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, jogging, or running regularly can effectively fight depression Walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, jogging, or running regularly can effectively fight depression. (Pic source: Pixabay)

Dr Ali added, “Regular exercise has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Physical activity releases endorphins, improves mood, and promotes overall well-being. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise; even moderate activities like walking or yoga can be beneficial”.

ALSO READ | Exercise is even more effective than counselling or medication for depression. But how much do you need?

Can journaling also help depression patients?

Journaling can be a helpful tool for managing depression. “It allows individuals to express their thoughts and emotions, gain self-awareness, and track patterns or triggers that may contribute to their depressive symptoms. It can also serve as a cathartic and reflective practice,” explained Dr Ali.

Journaling can be a helpful tool for managing depression Journaling can be a helpful tool for managing depression. (Pic source: Freepik)

Things to keep in mind

It’s important to remember that depression is a complex condition, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s crucial to seek professional guidance from a mental health professional who can provide personalised advice and support tailored to your specific situation.

“Not all depression patients require antidepressant medication. The appropriateness of medication should be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a mental health professional. Some individuals may find relief through non-pharmacological interventions alone, while others may benefit from a combination of therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication,” shared Dr Ali.

He concluded, “If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, it’s crucial to reach out to a mental health provider for appropriate evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. Depression is a treatable condition, and with the right support, it is possible to overcome it”.

ALSO READ | Change your life for the better by learning the art of eliminating ‘Automatic Negative Thoughts’


1. Sarris, J., O’Neil, A., Coulson, C. E., Schweitzer, I., & Berk, M. (2014). Lifestyle medicine for depression. BMC psychiatry, 14(1), 1-13.
2. Rao, T. S., Asha, M. R., Ramesh, B. N., & Rao, K. J. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian journal of psychiatry, 50(2), 77-82.
3. Heissel, A., Heinen, D., Brokmeier, L. L., Skarabis, N., Kangas, M., Vancampfort, D., … & Schuch, F. (2023). Exercise as medicine for depressive symptoms? A systematic review and meta-analysis with meta-regression. British Journal of Sports Medicine.
4. Roy, A., Govindan, R., & Muralidharan, K. (2018). The impact of an add-on video assisted structured aerobic exercise module on mood and somatic symptoms among women with depressive disorders: Study from a tertiary care centre in India. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 32, 118-122.
5. Gangadhar, B. N. (2023). Evidence-based integration of yoga in psychiatric practice. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 65(1), 5-11.

📣 For more lifestyle news, follow us on Instagram | Twitter | Facebook and don’t miss out on the latest updates!

Source link


The author comredg

Leave a Response