The best treatment for depression without (prescribed) medication

Category: Better Mood | Author and Publisher: Elly Prior | First published: 28-09-2010 | Modified: 10-09-2018

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By looking for the best treatment for depression - without medication - you clearly want to stay in control of your own recovery. Natural or alternative treatments help you to recover without having to suffer the burden of any nasty side-effects.

"Can depression be cured?" you might ask yourself.

Absolutely, it can!

I've witnessed hundreds of clients overcome the condition - mostly without medication (some were already on antidepressant by the time they came to me). Instead, they learnt to meet their essential emotional needs in balance by making full use of their inborn resources - THE natural cure for depression, along with some alternative remedies!

So, let's get started!

(Just in case you’re not sure exactly what depression entails, hop over my page: Depression Warning Signs. I'll still be here when you come back.)

Picture quote: How do you use your energy?

Choosing an alternative treatment for depression

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
... very little knowledge of how to treat depression without medication 
... no easy access to a suitably qualified therapist to refer their patient to

The protocol usually is to 'ideally' prescribe antidepressants and offer talking therapy at the same time. 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 get better with time, and without any medical intervention at all.

If you're already on antidepressants, be sure to read my comments further down about coming off the medication.

I'm so glad, though, you’re being pro-active right now in searching for information about alternative treatments and how to get better - a sure sign that you will recover sooner rather than later!

And you know what?

You're much less likely to suffer a relapse further down the line if you take control!

First things first

  • Firstly, if you're feeling suicidal, please go straight to my page: Help with Emotional Problems
  • Secondly, there are numerous medical conditions (e.g. an over- or under-active thyroid) and prescribed medications which could cause depression. So, do have a health checkup to rule out anything like that!

How to overcome depression without medication

In this article, you'll find both practical tips and alternative remedies/therapies that all can help you to beat depression.

But, it's also worth taking some time to try and figure out the underlying cause(s) of your low mood. Unless you know what's wrong, you'll have a harder job of making it right again! So, what's your story? 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?

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

If you can't seem to put your finger on what's making you feel depressed, and you think most of your life is "fine", have you considered talking 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.

Taking practical steps

You'll want to be able to see that you're making progress in your recovery. Here's how to do that...

Grade your mood first

  • Consider how 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 way to get better and keep moving forward every day, step-by-step...

4 Tips for treating your depression without medication

  1. Decide on - and commit to - actions that are most likely to make you feel good before you go to bed.
  2. Plan your day - hour-by-hour. Set realistic, achievable goals, so that you can measure your success and tick some boxes
  3. Focus on what is going well, however small a step (and remember to reward yourself)
  4. Cut yourself some slack. Fatigue and depression can go hand-in-hand.

Natural cures for depression

None of the following activities require you to take any medication and yet all can contribute to improving your mood significantly.

6 Tips to improve your mood today

  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' (search also YouTube for videos on how to do it safely).
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. Stop giving yourself a hard time! Relentlessly bullying yourself generates depression.
  6. Stop procrastinating! Notice the stories you tell yourself as to why you can't or won't do something.

Despite that depression and fatigue, I really want you to take action. You're not going to get better by hiding under the duvet or being slouched on the couch aimlessly flicking through TV channels.

Making things positive, doesn't mean a sunny outlook. I means making the choice to see problems as opportunities. Brahma Kumaris


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

The best natural depression treatments

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.

18 Ways to treat depression without medication

  1. Meeting your essential emotional needs in balance, as I mentioned earlier - it's the best treatment for depression
  2. Light therapy - we have become rather shy of the sun with all the warnings about cancer. BUT... the sun is life-giving.
  3. Self development - getting to know and accept yourself, without judgement, and taking actions that are known to increase happiness
  4. Therapy - connect with a professional, licensed therapists (online now). For more information, see my page on professional depression counselling
  5. 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.
  6. Aromatherapy, reflexology, and massage are known to improve mood
  7. Natural sleep remedies - sleeping well is absolutely vital for healing. Remedies of any kind are only effective for a while. For a much better solution, take a look at what these people have achieved with Dr Kelly Brogan's blueprint for a recovery without medication.
  8. Psychobiotics - supplying your bowels with specific bacteria that have a particularly beneficial influence on your mental health*. I know - you might find that hard to believe right now... but watch this space!
  9. Religious practices - the sense of community, meaning and purpose can help you find great relief
  10. Make decisions - particularly those you have been putting off 
  11. Meditation
  12. Practising gratefulness
  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
  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. Here is a free download of a simple list of pleasant activities that will get you moving.
  18. Music therapy - watch the inspiring talk below by violinist Robert Gupta from the LA Philharmonic. Robert has a special interest in music and mental health. Enjoy this wonderful treat...

Exercise and depression

I so want you to take to the streets - in the right way! Walk out of your front door and carry on walking. Simple. I'm serious! Stretch yourself - walk a little further 3 - 5 times a week and build up to a 45 minute walk.

Here are 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.*)

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

Best natural 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.

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.

Uplifting image: beautiful purple tulipsTake time to deliberately look at beautiful things every day

Herbal treatment for depression and fatigue

Remember that taking any medication - herbal or otherwise - doesn't deal with the underlying cause.

Also, the following herbs can still be considered 'psychotropic' drugs - they do have an effect on your brain (and other parts of your body). Nevertheless they come with far fewer (if any) side-effects and are not habit-forming like prescribed antidepressants.

5 Herbs to help treat depression

  1. St. John’s Wort – but do consult your doctor if you are any taking medication or the contraceptive pill! Definitely do not take it if you're already on antidepressants
  2. Ginkgo biloba - maybe helpful for elderly people
  3. Damiana - traditionally used, but not researched
  4. Vervain - traditionally used, but not researched
  5. Chamomile - to relieve anxiety and insomnia - often accompanying symptoms of depression

Homeopathic remedies for depression

Homeopathic remedies for depression

The supposedly best homeopathic treatment for depression can only be achieved by visiting a qualified homeopath. He or she will treat your condition based on very specific mental and physical symptoms. The nuances of your symptoms are said to matter.

There's absolutely no problem in taking these natural remedies long-term as, unlike antidepressants, they don't cause any harm. You'll also find them completely free of side effects (they are sugar pills).

Your practitioner will probably tell you that you may experience a brief worsening of your symptoms and that's an indication that you're taking the right remedy.

For further information visit the website of the British Homeopathic Association.

However, according to Ben Goldacre, there's often little evidence that homeopathy works with makers referring to poor quality studies. Goldacre writes extensively about this in his book Bad Science and on his website.

The healing power Bach flower remedies

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 examples with reference to 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 deficiencies.


We just eat far more food with empty calories (you know the ones I mean!) and/or food grown on soil depleted of natural substances that would 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 though (and Dr Mercola's website is an excellent resource for this).

7 Supplements to improve your mental health

  • 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 is unlikely to 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...

Home remedies for depression

Maya Angelou -

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"*.

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 your home remedies for depression!

In fact, I can do even better by recommending you take a look at what Dr Kelly Brogan has to offer. She was a conventional prescription-happy psychiatrist, until she found a far more successful way of treating patients...

(I may earn a commission from the referral. This is how I can continue to produce a ton of free material and run an honest business.)

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:


You can absolutely find a natural cure for that depression. Be sure to deal with the underlying causes too, though, to prevent a recurrence. You'll find whole lists of articles here:

Remember too that it's perfectly fine to get some help, if only to get you started. Consider connecting with a professional, licensed therapist - online for easy access. Scroll down to the blue box or for more information, see my article on professional depression counselling.

Just in case... no, you're not 'mental'. You're going to be okay again - I'm rooting for you!

Please, rate this article ...

I really hope this article is of help to you. :-)

I frequently update my articles based on feedback, therefore I really value your vote.

Thank you so much in anticipation. :-)

Related links

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How to Choose the Right Counsellor
Natural Sleep Remedies
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The Human Givens
Dealing with Toxic Shame
'Bored' with Life
Alcoholism and Depression
How to Treat Severe Depression


*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

*Mercola, J. The Forgotten Organ – Your Microbiota. 09 December 2013, via

*Mercola, J. Five Ways to Help Beat Depression Without Antidepressants. 09 March 2010, via

*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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