The use of alternative medicine in the treatment of depression is nonconventional and largely unproven, but it is an option. As always, if you are interested in exploring alternative medicine options for depression, speak to your primary care provider first.
There are three common supplements associated with depression treatment:
- St. John’s Wort
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These are herbal and dietary supplements that are believed to alleviate the symptoms of depression. If you choose to try any of the above, talk to your doctor first, as they can interfere with other medications that you may be taking.
Integrative medicine practitioners believe that the mind and the body must be connected or in harmony to maintain your health and well-being. As such, many mind-body techniques are believed to help in the treatment of depression, including:
- Yoga or Tai Chi
- Meditation and Mindfulness
- Music/Art Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Aerobic Exercise
There is evidence to support that some of these techniques may assist in the alleviation of depression.
Meditation and mindfulness have grown in popularity in recent years, as they can assist in stress management. These techniques teach relaxation and can make it easier to deal with stressful situations.
Best of all, treatments like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and tai chi are easily accessible to a large number of people. Several books and videos teach the basics, available online, through mobile apps, or in stores.
Generally speaking, many of these alternative treatment options do not work to treat depression on their own, but they may be used in conjunction with other methods to increase their effectiveness.
Medications for Depression
When it comes to effectiveness, medications and psychotherapy have long been regarded as the best ways to treat depression. These medications are not available to the general public and must be prescribed by a primary care physician or a psychiatrist.
Medications for depression can ease many of the emotional and physical symptoms of depression, making depression much easier to deal with daily.
Many different medications have been proven to relieve some or all of the symptoms of depression, but the effectiveness of each entirely depends upon the individual.
With so many to choose from, it can be a struggle to find which form of medication will work best for your case. This is why it is so important to work with your doctor to find what works best for you, no matter how long that process may take.
Antidepressants are organized into groups, based on what they do to treat depression symptoms, as explained below.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are often regarded as a good starting platform for doctors to begin prescribing medications for depression. These drugs are very common antidepressants, used by many different individuals for the treatment of their depression.
SSRIs are usually considered a safer option when it comes to medication. They do not cause as many side effects as other forms of antidepressants often do. Not only are they a great place to start, but many individuals with depression find lasting relief as a result of taking SSRIs.
Some common SSRIs include:
- Fluoxetine (Prozac or Sarafem)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro or Cipralex)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat, or Pexeva)
- Vilazodone (Viibryd)
Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
SNRIs are similar to SSRIs, in that they help to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Both medications inhibit the absorption (or reuptake) of serotonin, causing an increase in feelings of well-being and happiness.
The difference is that SNRIs not only blocks the reuptake of serotonin but norepinephrine as well. This increase of norepinephrine in the brain leads to alertness and focuses attention, but can also lead to restlessness and anxiety.
Some common SNRIs include:
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq or Khedezla)