19+ natural ways to treat depression without drugs

Natural treatment for depression. So, NO medication!

By your searching for natural ways to treat depression – I already know that you clearly want to stay in control of your own recovery.

You want to take charge and thereby avoid becoming reliant on antidepressants. Great!  Know that feeling in control of your own destiny is an inborn emotional need! And antidepressants come with far more side effects and risks than you’ve probably been led to believe.

And you know what?

You’re much less likely to suffer a relapse further down the line when you are in control

Depression is a serious condition, though. Left untreated, it can cause no end of misery, for you – if you’re the sufferer – and your loved ones.

(Not entirely sure you have depression? See my depression questionnaire.)

“Can depression be cured?” you might ask yourself, because you may have already suffered several episodes.

Let me reassure you: mostly, it can.

Sadly, though, some people are left having to struggle through repeated episodes of deep depression. And all too often, loved ones just don’t get it.

However, I’ve witnessed hundreds of clients get better – mostly without medication (some were already on antidepressant by the time they came to me).

So, let’s get started!

They learnt to meet their essential emotional needs in balance. They also made full use of their inborn resources. This strategy is one of the best natural cures for depression as it involves encouraging your body/mind’s own healing mechanisms.

Just in case any of the following apply to you…

… I have also written about alcohol and depressiondepression in men (including postpartum depression) and how to survive the perimenopause.

Choosing natural ways to treat depression

Being proactive is THE best way of treating depression without medication

Unfortunately, some of my clients were already on antidepressants (mainly SSRIs) when they came to see me. They’d consulted their doctor who may have had…

… little time for them
… limited knowledge of how to treat depression without medication 
… no easy access to a suitably qualified therapist to refer their patient to

The protocol is often to prescribe antidepressants and/or offer talking therapy at the same time (depending somewhat on where in the world you reside).

Oh, how that frustrates me as a therapist!

If you do both at once, how would you ever be able to realise that you’ve made progress because of your own efforts, and not because of the medication?

Most people can get better with time, and without any medical intervention. However, they do need good information to help them find ways to treat that depression without medication.

(If you’re already on antidepressants, be sure to read my warnings further down about coming off the medication.)

Fortunately, though, these days doctors are increasingly prescribing exercise and other health-promoting lifestyle changes.

What should you do if you’re depressed

  • Firstly, if you’re feeling suicidal, please go straight to my page: Help with emotional problems to find where you can turn to right now.
  • Secondly, there are numerous medical conditions (e.g. an over- or under-active thyroid). So, do have a health checkup if you haven’t had one yet.
  • Thirdly, check the side effects of any medications you’ve been prescribed. Drugs prescribed for high blood pressure, hot flushes (flashes), prostate enlargement, pain, digestive system or lung problems, epilepsy, and – would you believe it – depression and anxiety, are linked to depression. (Source: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/mood/article/your-medication-causing-depression)
Photo: lavender. Text: how to treat depression without drugs
Opt for a natural treatment for depression so *you* are in control of your recovery!

How to deal with depression without medication

In this article, you’ll find advice and tips on how to treat depression naturally and effectively.

But, I would really like you to try and figure out if there could be any underlying cause(s) of your depression. Unless you know what’s wrong, you’ll have a much harder job of making it right again and healing!

So, what’s is going on for you? What has happened and what is happening to you now?

Are you unhappy in your relationship, or unfulfilled at work?

Are previous unresolved difficulties in any area of your life rising to the surface again?

Do you have money worries, or are you stressed about the children?

Are you feeling anxious about something – or everything?

Do you have relationship problems? Are you in need of relationship advice?

If you can identify the root cause(s) of your worries and troubles, you can start taking practical steps to address them.

Can’t seem to put your finger on what’s making you feel depressed? Think most of your life is “fine”?

In that case, too, I can really recommend you talk to a therapist or even a trusted friend. An outside perspective can really help you to figure out what’s going on for you right now.

Picture quote:
How do you use your energy?

Natural ways to deal with depression

How to cure depression by yourself

You’ll want to be able to see that you’re making progress in your recovery.

Here’s how to do that…

What do you do when you’re feeling so depressed?


Consider how down you’re feeling between 0 and 10 now and later – before and after any activity.

  • 0 = suicidal and 10 = ‘deliriously’ happy. You can fill in the ‘in-betweens’.
  • Then choose your desired natural ways to fight depression and keep moving forward every day, step-by-step…

3 tips for treating your depression without medication

  1. Plan your day – hour-by-hour.
    Set realistic, achievable goals, so that you can measure your success and tick some boxes on your to-do list.
  2. Focus on what is going well,
    and do more of it. Taking baby-steps is absolutely fine (and remember to reward yourself).
  3. Cut yourself some slack.
    without succumbing to hours and days of doing nothing. Fatigue and depression can go hand-in-hand.
Photo: Woman with umbrella, looking down. Text: Need help? Click here.
Chat with a licensed therapist to get some reassurance, support and help with your depression. It can be such a relief to get things of your chest and get the advice you need.

Natural cures for depression

None of the following ways of treating depression at home requires you to take any medication. And yet, all can contribute to improving your mood significantly.

5 Ways to treat your depression at home

1. Stop ruminating!

That is – stop yourself going over and over the same problems, as that is what’s maintaining your depression. Give yourself a maximum of 2 x 20 mins a day to confine your worries to specific times.

2. Familiarise yourself with earthing to deal with depression

For further information, see ‘earthing‘.
(search also YouTube for videos on how to do it safely).

3. Pick up something creative

Dig out your long-forgotten projects or find a new course to take (there are plenty of, often free, internet offerings these days to enjoy from the comfort of your home). Get in the zone in the right way instead of becoming transfixed on everything that’s depressing in your life.

4. Stop giving yourself a hard time

Constantly undermining and humiliating yourself generates depression.

5. Stop procrastinating to beat that depression

Notice the stories you tell yourself as to why you can’t or won’t do something. Challenge yourself!

Despite that depression and fatigue, I really want you to take action. You’re not going to get better by hiding under the duvet. Staying slouched on the couch aimlessly flicking through TV channels makes you even more depressed.


I found your website very very good.  It has everything wanted to know about depression and such. I plan on reading thru the different articles and have bookmarked it.  Thank you for being there for people. I can actually feel how you come across on the website.

– Diana

Are there natural ways to treat depression?

For sure there are plenty of natural ways to treat depression!

Choose from the list below anything that even ‘kind of’ appeals to you right now, if you find it hard to make a decision. You can always change direction later.

Focus on what you can do – not on what you think you can’t – and give it time.

Photo: flower opening up. Text: 19 ways to treat depression naturally.

19 natural ways to treat depression

  1. Meeting your essential emotional needs in balance, as I mentioned earlier – it’s the best way to treat depression without medication.
  2. Exercise! Yes, I already mentioned that! :-)
    If you have exercised in the past you can start with a little more rigorous exercise now. Go for a brisk walk, a cycle ride or go swimming (at least 30 mins three times a week). Aerobic exercise increases feel-good hormones (endorphins) in your body (see further down for more information).
  3. Light therapy – we have become rather shy of the sun with all the warnings about cancer. BUT… the sun is life-giving.
  4. Self-development – getting to know and accept yourself, without judgement, and taking actions that are known to increase happiness.
  5. Personal therapy – connect with a professional, licensed therapist (online now).
  6. Relationship counselling – about 50% of those suffering from depression have relationship problems. If you and your partner are falling out, talk to an online relationship expert.
  7. Aromatherapy, reflexology, and massage are known to improve mood.
  8. Psychobiotics – supplying your bowels with specific bacteria that have a particularly beneficial influence on your mental health [1]. I know – you might find that hard to believe right now… but watch this space! To be honest, you can make a huge difference simply by adjusting your diet.
  9. Religious practices – the sense of community, meaning and purpose – all human givens – can help you find great relief.
  10. Make decisions – particularly those you have been putting off – no matter how small. Get back in the driving seat of your life. 
  11. Meditation – See my article on how to deal with a nervous breakdown.
  12. Practising gratitude
  13. (Re)build your self-esteem – see my article: How to improve your self-esteem.
  14. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT): one of the best natural ways to deal with depression. See this clinical study.
  15. Hypnosis for depression – it’s powerful, affordable and very user-friendly. See my article: Self-hypnosis FAQ and downloads.
  16. Relieving boredom – see my article: Bored with life?
  17. Undertaking new and different activities to break the cycle.
  18. Dance
  19. Music therapy [1] – watch the inspiring talk by violinist Robert Gupta from the LA Philharmonic. Robert has a special interest in music and mental health. Enjoy this wonderful treat…

Natural ways to treat depression: exercise

I so want you to take to the streets – in the right way!

Walk out of your front door and carry on walking. It is as simple as that. I’m serious! I know you’re likely to have trouble motivating yourself to do anything at all at the moment. However, we’ve already established that, in order to treat your depression without medication, you need to stretch yourself.

So, just start with 10 minutes, if that is all you can face right now. Then walk a minute further every day or at the very least 3 times a week. Make it an unbreakable habit. I know you can do it! And see how far you can get eventually.

Here is the result of a huge study:

Reported in the Lancet

Individuals who exercised had 1·49 (43·2%) fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise matched for several physical and sociodemographic characteristics.

All exercise types were associated with a lower mental health burden (minimum reduction of 11·8% and maximum reduction of 22·3%) than not exercising.

The largest associations were seen for popular team sports (22·3% lower), cycling (21·6% lower), and aerobic and gym activities (20·1% lower), as well as durations of 45 min and frequencies of three to five times per week. [2]

Motivate yourself by creating an account in MapMyWalk.com and chart your progress.

Home remedies for depression

Whatever you swallow affects your brain and body

Everything you swallow provides the raw material (or not) for the production of important ‘chemicals’ (hormones, peptides, neurotransmitters etc.) in your body/brain. All that stuff ensures that your body does what it’s supposed to do.

These substances have an effect on all processes in your body – not just what happens in your head. That’s why tablets – like antidepressants – manufactured by pharmaceutical companies have significant ‘unexpected’ side-effects.

And therefore you also have to be choosy about your natural remedies for depression!

In addition, the foods you eat – and don’t eat – have an effect on how you feel mentally and emotionally.

It’s vital to make sensible food choices. Good quality food contains all the natural ingredients for the production of those important body chemicals.

We need proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. We need them in a particular combination to achieve optimum mental and physical health.

A healthy, varied diet is, therefore, one of the best natural remedies for depression.

Uplifting image: beautiful orange flowers
Take time to deliberately look at beautiful things every day.

Natural remedies for depression and fatigue

Considering taking herbs for depression?

Sure, they’re natural. But, remember that herbs can still be considered ‘psychotropic’ drugs and not necessarily safe.

St. John’s Wort, for example, is one of the most recognised natural remedies for depression. But it comes with a safety warning. You’ll need to consult your doctor before taking it if you are on any medication (particularly antidepressants) or the contraceptive pill.

And while we’re talking about the contraceptive pill, research has shown that the pill can cause anxiety, depression and low libido [3]. So it might be worth asking your doctor to review your medication to make sure it’s suitable and appropriate for you right now.

Nothing works unless you do. -Maya Angelou
How to cure depression by yourself.

Natural ways to beat depression

Natural remedies for depression

This healing system is based on energy. Dr Edward Bach discovered that the energy emitted by specific flowers could heal particular character traits and emotional states.

He distilled 38 plants and flowers into special preparations. Here are some natural remedies for depression (or really – depressive states):

  • Agrimony -for when you’re feeling tortured on the inside, but appear cheerful on the outside,
  • Cherry Plum- fear of going mad,
  • Gorse – for a sense of hopelessness and despair,
  • Sweet Chestnut – for extreme mental pain.

Nutrition and depression

These days we are much more likely to suffer from nutricial deficiencies.

We just eat far more food with empty calories (you know the ones I mean!) and/or food that’s grown on soil depleted of natural substances that might have added the necessary minerals to our diet.

In addition, there are extra demands on your body, and thus its needs for vitamins and minerals, if you…  

  • are stressed,
  • have health problems,
  • have food sensitivities or allergies,
  • take medication,
  • have a genetic condition or predisposition that thwarts the absorption and use of vitamins and minerals.

Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals are known to contribute to mental health problems.

The following supplements are often suggested and may help you to achieve better mental health – hence my having included them here. I encourage you to do your own research on natural ways to treat depression, though. Dr Mercola’s website is an excellent resource for this.

Natural ways to treat depression
7 supplements to improve your mental health

Be sure to always ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice prior to taking any of the following and know that you’re much better off ensuring you have a healthy diet:

  • Vitamin B6 – particularly if you are on the contraceptive pill!
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Folic acid
  • 5-HTP
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Fish oil -considered one of the best supplements, but please see: Omega 3 side effects and Fish Oil and Depression.

Unfortunately, gobbling up the average supplement you find on the shelves won’t do you any good. Often supplements are chemical ‘lookalikes’ – there’s a good chance your body doesn’t even recognise them as something it can use – if it’s able to absorb it at all.

So, it comes as no surprise then that the safest, most effective ‘supplementation’ comes from eating the right foods…

Natural ways to treat depression: home remedies

No matter how rubbish you feel, think again when you’re just about to eat another ice-cream, cake, sweet, doughnut, bagel, bag of crisps, chip, lump of bread, etc. These provide only ’empty’ calories – they fill you up and provide a temporary sense of comfort – but crucially they don’t provide the nutrients you need to help you recover.

Did you know, for example, that Vit B6 and B12 are called the mental health vitamins?

In addition, I’m really sorry to have to tell you that sugar “causes chronic inflammation, which disrupts your body’s normal immune function and can wreak havoc on your brain” [4].

So, instead of junk think fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olives, fermented foods (such as kefir and sauerkraut. I know… you’ve probably never heard of it – just google it). These are the best home remedies for depression!

Don’t just stop taking antidepressants

Conventional antidepressant medication should not suddenly be stopped.

I totally understand that you want to come off the antidepressants, but do ensure you’re well-informed and have the right kind of medical support (see Dr Kelly Brogan’s website).

Your brain will have made changes to adapt to the presence of antidepressants. Coming off them can be really difficult, but I would encourage you to go for it (once you’ve sought medical advice), as they are not nearly as safe as you’ve probably been led to believe! Your body has to work hard to compensate for the withdrawal.

Please see: http://rxisk.org/guide-stopping-antidepressants/


There are plenty of natural ways to treat depression. You choose what suits you most – medication or no medication!

If you choose to treat depression naturally, you won’t be having to deal with the added burden of antidepressant side effects.

You can do it – I’m rooting for you!

Background photo: silhouette of woman's face. Text: Need advice? Get help. Chat with a licensed therapist now.
Your problem is never too big, too small or too embarrassing to get personal advice from a professional counsellor!

Other helpful links


[1] Wium-Andersen M, Ørsted D, Nielsen S, Nordestgaard B. Elevated C-Reactive Protein Levels, Psychological Distress, and Depression in 73 131 Individuals. Elevated CRP Levels and Psychiatric Illness. Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012; DOI: 10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.102

[2] Mercola, J. The Forgotten Organ – Your Microbiota. 09 December 2013, via Mercola.com

[3] The Contraceptive Pill: How Safe Is It? BBC Horizon

[4] Ramsey, Drew, MD, and Phillip R. Muskin, MD. Vitamin Deficiencies and Mental Health. How Are They Linked? Current Psychiatry, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2013.

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