How To Stop Feeling Depressed (Without Medication)
Are you wondering how to stop feeling depressed without medication?
Have you been feeling sad and overwhelmed recently and, while you want it to go away, you aren’t quite ready to consider medication?
It IS POSSIBLE to stop feeling depressed without medication but first let me tell you a little bit about depression.
There are two basic types of depression: situational depression and chemical depression.
Situational depression is the result of things that are happening in your life. Perhaps a family member died or you are very unhappy at work or maybe you are going through a divorce.
All of these ‘situations’ can lead to feelings of sadness and overwhelm. And, in most cases, situational depression can be dealt with without medication.
Chemical depression is a whole different thing. People who are chemically depressed have brain chemistry that is slightly off, off enough to affect their mood. Chemical depression can be caused by genetics and traumatic events, among other things. Chemical depression is very hard to treat without medication and will not just go away. Chemical depression also tends to get worse the longer it goes untreated.
So, before you read this article, ask yourself what kind of depressed are you? For more information on the difference, check out this article.
If you are situationally depressed then read on. If you are chemically depressed then this article might be better for you.
So how DO you stop situational depression without medication?
#1 – Get your thyroid and your Vitamin D levels checked.
Many of my clients first come to me because they are feeling depressed. Without exception, as part of our work together, I ask that they see their primary care doctor and have their thyroid and Vitamin D levels checked.
Many women who are depressed, and many who aren’t, have thyroid issues. Your thyroid is the body’s regulator so it’s important to get your thyroid checked regularly to keep your body running properly. An under-active thyroid can lead to depression so if you are feeling depressed it’s a good thing to check out.
Vitamin D is a vitamin that we can only get from two places: fortified milk and the sunlight. And for many of us who live in the USA, and those of us who use sunscreen, we just don’t get enough sunlight. As a result, our levels of Vitamin D are low and low vitamin D levels can lead to depression.
Fortunately, both thyroid and Vitamin D levels can be checked with a simple blood test so get to your doctor right away to have that done!
#2 – Get motivated.
One of the viscious circles about depression is that when we are depressed our productivity lags. The prospect of cleaning the house or doing work or driving to see our mother fills us with such an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and dread that we just don’t want to do it.
So we don’t. And it makes us feel bad about ourselves and then we get even more depressed.
One of the best antidotes for depression is being productive. There is nothing like getting up off the couch and getting something done that can raise one’s spirits.
I know. The idea just kills you doesn’t it. Does it seem impossible?
If yes, start small! Perhaps you can get up off the couch and clean your coffee mug. Or you can stay on the couch and organize your coffee table. Something little that will make you feel productive and therefore better about yourself.
And you just might find that, if you start small and get that little thing done, you will be inspired to go bigger. And going bigger just might be what you need to kick that depression to the curb.
#3 – Get your heart rate up.
Getting your heart rate up is a proven way to stop depression in it’s tracks.
When you exercise, and get your heart rate up, your body produces dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. The dopamine usually lasts for about 5 hours and has a significant lightening affect on the mood.
Furthermore, if you exercise instead of sitting on the couch eating ice cream, you will get and/or stay fit which is also a good antidote for depression. Nothing like feeling good about yourself in that new pair of jeans to lift the sadness clear away.
So get out and get your heart rate up. Walking for 15 minutes is a good place to start, working your way up to 30 minutes and beyond. Or you can ride your bike. Or walk your dog. Or have sex. Whatever you like to do to get your heart racing.
Orgasms, BTW, are an excellent producer of dopamine so having those as often as possible when you are depressed is always a good idea.
#4 – Get out of the house.
Another key signifier of depression is the tendency to isolate.
For people who are depressed, the prospect of getting out of the house to spend time with people is incredibly daunting. Way more attractive is the idea of staying home, in your pjs, binge watching UnReal. Which, yes, is fun but which most likely won’t lift your depression.
So pick up the phone and call some friends. Make some plans to go out and do something. Anything. Being with friends, smiling, laughing and being distracted from your troubles, is an excellent way to deal with situational depression.
It’s hard to be depressed when you are laughing.
#5 – Get help!
A key part of dealing with depression is knowing that you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are tons of resources out there for people living with depression, either situational or chemical.
Seeing therapist or a life coach can be very helpful. A therapist will help you work through your feelings about what is going on in your and a life coach will help you be more productive and maybe find that new job!
Seeing your primary care doctor is always a good idea. They can give you a full medical workup and confirm that there is nothing physical that is causing your sadness.
Holistic healers can be helpful too. Chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists, cranial sacral workers, massage therapist and many others are excellent resources for dealing with depression.
And last, but not least by far, are your friends and family. Going it alone when you are depressed is not a good idea. You don’t need to broadcast how you are feeling to the world but having one person who knows that you are struggling is wise. That person can keep an eye on you, to see if matters worsen and to be there should you need help or a friendly ear.
If you are depressed reach out for help right now. You don’t have to go this alone.
There are ways to stop feeling depressed without medication.
It is important, however, that you seriously consider what type of depression you might have before you try to deal with it. What works for situational depression doesn’t work for chemical depression and vice versa.
So, if you are situationally depressed, follow my steps above. Get your thyroid and Vitamin D levels checked, get motivated and be productive, get some exercise, get out of the house and get some help. Hopefully, following this protocol will help you deal with your depression so that life can go on!
If you are chemically depressed it’s essential that you reach out to your primary care doctor immediately and let her help you deal with your depression. Chemical depression that goes untreated will only get worse.
Good luck! You can do it!
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.