Healthy depression treatments (that don't include meds or drugs)

Scientific evidence shows that when people are depressed, they usually prefer a non-pharmaceutical approach to treatment where possible.[1]

How do I start to deal with my problems?

Many people experience 'reactive' depression, meaning that their negative feelings are related to a particular event or situation in their life. Once you know what the problem is you can develop a strategy to deal with it, but the first thing you must do is talk to someone. Talking through your problems and accepting the support and understanding of people you trust whether that's a GP, a friend, relative, work or university colleague, will give you the breathing space you need to address your difficulties.

What if I don't want to use drugs or meds?

For people with mild to moderate depression, there are non-pharmacological therapies that address a change in behaviour, and results show positive outcomes for patients with anxiety and depression.[2]

  • Guided Self Help - a range of books designed to treat depression selected by professionals for their evidence-based content, and prescribed by healthcare providers.
  • 'How Your Brain Can Turn Anxiety Into Calmness' - an excellent online public lecture from University of California Television (UCTV). If you don't know how to start helping yourself, this is a good place.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) - a proven psychotherapy technique that helps you identify and change thoughts and behaviours that may be preventing you from getting better. Computerised CBT is now available to access on your own or in conjunction with a therapist. The following packages may be beneficial:

'Beating the Blues' - 8 weekly sessions of approximately 50 minutes each. This package is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) but is only free in England (NHS).

'MoodGYM' - a free, interactive web program designed to help prevent depression in young people. There are currently over 200 000 registered users worldwide.

'Living life to the full' - an online 'life skills' course developed by the University of Glasgow. The course is free and supported by workbooks.


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