Just as there is more than one type of depression, there is more than one way of treating it.
Many people choose to use alternative therapies to treat their depression, whether as the core of their treatment or to supplement traditional therapies. Reasons for using alternative therapies range from skepticism towards traditional medication to the belief that the body can heal itself.
Alternative therapies—also called complementary therapies—range from taking nutritional supplements daily to alternative forms of talk and other therapy. It is also important to note that while practitioners may tout the effectiveness of certain treatments, there is often little factual evidence to support its effectiveness.
Before you start any type of therapy for your depression, consult your doctor to see if this is the best approach for you to take. This is extremely important as some nutritional supplements can interfere with medication or cause an allergic reaction, and some types of therapy may involve topics you might find difficult to discuss.
When seeking out alternative therapies, be sure to ask for a practitioner’s credentials, including training and any available accreditations.
Below are brief introductions to a few popular alternative therapies for depression. Read more about the therapies by clicking on the links to Healthline’s partner site, HelpForDepression.com.
Acupuncture uses thin needles inserted into the skin. It’s a technique that has been used for thousands of years in Eastern cultures to treat a variety of symptoms, from a stuffy nose to bodily pain. Research indicates that acupuncture can be used to stimulate key chemicals in the brain to elevate mood and alleviate body tension and pain associated with depression.
Aromatherapy operates on the principle that certain oils derived from plants can help stimulate different emotions, whether it’s relaxation to ease anxiety or invigoration to encourage positive moods.
Guided imagery is a form of therapy where a patient begins by entering into a calm state of mind. In that state, an instructor has the person focus on a specific image for a variety of reasons, including releasing negative emotions and creating a positive mindset.
Hydrotherapy embraces the healing powers of water. It can involve swimming as a means of exercise, or simply soaking in warm waters to ease pains and elevate mood.
Hypnosis involves going into a trance by a trained professional. The goal is to have the patient more focuses on specific topics and open to suggestions in an attempt to be more receptive to suggestions.
Light therapy uses real or artificial sunlight to help ease the symptoms of different kinds of depression, namely seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that changes with the seasons. While not recommended as a primary means of treating depression, it can help as supplemental therapy.
Muscles can store tension, which can lead a person to feeling sluggish. Depression is no different, especially if you’re having trouble finding the energy to get out of bed in the morning. Massage practitioners also recommend this treatment as human touch is believed to help ease feelings of alienation common in people with depression.
The focus of meditation isn’t about changing the world around you—it’s about changing your reaction to it. Using this ancient Buddhist technique, a person with depression can improve his or her outlook on life while strengthening the mind-body connection.
Listen to most music and you’ll feel the pain and sorrow the artist is working through with his or her words and sound. Music therapy utilizes this very idea by having a patient listen to music, write music or lyrics, and perform music. The goal is to allow a person to explore their feelings and express them in a constructive manner.
Pet therapy is used in a variety of scenarios, including aiding the impaired and elderly. Pet therapy can also be used to help people with depression, as it can help foster a connection between the depressed and another creature.
Yoga therapy combines gentle physical movement and meditation practices to help a person feel connected with his or her environment while fostering a healthier physical and emotional self. As exercise is the most common recommendation for people with depression, the different available types of yoga ensure you’re find to the right fit.