6 Ideas for Overcoming Depression Without Medication

With more than 21 million adults in the United States experiencing major depression,  it needs to be something that we talk about without fear of judgement and fear. After all, it can affect any of us.  Some of the signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Sadness that you can’t seem to shift
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Guilt
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Loss of interest 

The problem is, lots of people who suffer from depression do not want to take medication. There is nothing wrong with medication – for so many people, it is the only thing that can help if all other avenues have been explored. However, we often tend to jump straight to medication to treat depression without trying out other things first. In some cases, depression can be overcome without the use of medication and a few fairly simple lifestyle changes. In this article, we will look at six ways to overcome depression without the use of medication.

No meds

TLDR Summary:

  1. Take Steps to Reduce Stress Levels
  2. Make Sure You are Getting Enough Sleep
  3. Exercise Regularly and Eat Properly
  4. Practice Mindfulness
  5. Think About your Difficult Relationships
  6. Set Small Goals and Chase Them!

1. Take steps to reduce stress levels

Stress, according to a 2012 study conducted with students, had a negative impact on mental health, life satisfaction, and general health, the researchers discovered.

However, even though it is not always possible to avoid stress, taking steps to do so may be beneficial. These are some examples that are covered in more detail below:

  • Obtaining sufficient sleep and rest
  • Exercising Regularly and Eating Properly
  • Practicing Mindfulness
  • Thinking about your difficult relationships

2. Make sure you are getting enough sleep

Sleep and depression. are inextricably linked. If you get too little of the former, your mood is almost certain to suffer, whether or not you experience depression at the time. Make sure you practice what sleep specialists refer to as “good sleep hygiene.” in an effort to enhance your emotional well-being. 

Keeping consistent bedtimes and wake-up hours, making sure your bedroom is conducive to quality sleep, having a peaceful bedtime routine that does not include sitting in front of a device are all examples of good sleep hygiene.


Here’s 5 ways how adequate sleep can help with depression:

  • Brain Function and Emotional Regulation: Sleep is essential for various brain functions, including cognition, concentration, productivity, and emotional regulation.. People who are sleep-deprived often report feelings of irritability, sadness, and stress. Adequate sleep can help stabilize emotions and mood, potentially reducing depressive symptoms.
  • Stress Reduction: Sleep can lower stress levels by reducing the production of stress hormones. Elevated stress hormones, particularly cortisol, have been associated with depression. By reducing stress, one can also reduce the risk or severity of depressive symptoms.
  • Physical Health: Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to various health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Physical health problems can make your depression worse.
  • Improves your Immune System: Sleep is essential for a well-functioning immune system. A compromised immune system can lead to physical illnesses, which can further influence mood and contribute to feelings of depression and make things worse.
  • Body Repair: During deep sleep, the body goes through various restorative processes, like tissue growth and repair. This is essential for overall physical health, which is intrinsically linked to mental well-being.

3. Exercise regularly and eat properly

A nutritious diet may aid in the prevention of depression and the enhancement of mental well-being. According to a 2019 study, dietary adjustments may have a role to play in the treatment of depression. Aim to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy fats, whole grain foods and oily fish.

Increasing physical activity does not necessarily imply training for a marathon; rather, it entails engaging in a half-hour or so of low-intensity activity each day, which has been shown to be useful in boosting mood. 

Here are 5 ways Exercise can specifically help with Depression:

  • Endorphin Release: Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins contribute to the “runner’s high” and can bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being.
  •  Brain Health: Exercise promotes neuroplasticity by stimulating the growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain. It also encourages the growth of new neurons, a process known as neurogenesis.
  • Increased Energy: Though it might seem counterintuitive, exercising can actually increase your energy levels, helping to alleviate some of the fatigue commonly associated with depression.
  • Self-esteem Boost: Setting and achieving fitness goals, whether small or large, can boost self-esteem and self-worth. This sense of accomplishment can combat feelings of worthlessness that often accompany depression.
  • Distraction: Engaging in physical activity can serve as a positive distraction from ruminative or negative thoughts.  It can also provide more Social Interaction as another distraction.

4. Practice mindfulness

More and more studies indicate that mindfulness (paying attention to your present thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judging them) has the potential to improve depression in people who are suffering from it. A number of studies have suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is equally effective as medication in preventing depression relapse among adults who have a history of recurrent depression as well as in reducing depressive symptoms among those who are currently experiencing active depression.

Here are some specific ways Mindfulness can reduce Depression:

  • Breaking the Rumination Cycle: One of the hallmarks of depression is rumination, a repetitive, often negative, pattern of thinking. Mindfulness trains individuals to observe their thoughts without getting caught up in them. By doing so, it becomes easier to recognize and break out of rumination patterns.
  • Reduces Reactivity: By cultivating a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, mindfulness helps reduce emotional and cognitive reactivity. This means that instead of instinctively reacting to negative events or thoughts, there’s a space created to choose a response consciously.
  • Enhanced Self-awareness: Mindfulness practices can lead to a deeper understanding and awareness of oneself. This self-awareness can be pivotal in recognizing the onset of depressive symptoms early and taking proactive measures.
  • Improved Concentration: Mindfulness enhances focus and concentration, which can counteract symptoms of depression like distractibility and indecisiveness.
  • Improves Resilience: By fostering a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, regardless of whether it’s perceived as “good” or “bad”, mindfulness can enhance resilience to life’s ups and downs.

5. Think about your Difficult Relationships

A person’s ability to manage the symptoms of depression is enhanced by having strong and healthy relationships. In certain cases, these interactions can even have a significant impact on whether or not a person becomes depressed.

Their presence provides us with a support network – someone to talk to and loved ones on whom we can rely when times are tough. They can assist us in maintaining our perspective and making us feel less alone in general. Relationships with friends and family are at the top of the list, according to the Office for National Statistics, when it comes to what matters most to our well-being. 

People who are in difficult relationships, on the other hand, are three times more likely than those who are not to suffer from depression, according to research. Relationships that are unhappy or unsupportive are a risk factor for developing depression. 

Here are some ways in which challenging relationships can contribute to depression:

  • Constant Stress: Stressful relationships, whether with a partner, family member, or friend, can lead to chronic stress. Over time, chronic stress can significantly increase the risk of developing depression.
  • Isolation: Difficult relationships can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially if the relationship restricts social interactions or if the individual withdraws from other relationships to avoid conflict.
  • Trauma: Relationships characterized by abuse (whether emotional, physical, or sexual) can lead to traumatic responses. Trauma, especially when unresolved, is a well-established risk factor for depression.
  • Unmet Emotional Needs: Healthy relationships often meet emotional needs like belonging, love, validation, and security. Difficult relationships can lead to these needs going unmet, contributing to feelings of emptiness or sadness.
  • Increased Conflict: Regular conflict, especially if it involves personal criticism, can erode well-being and contribute to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and anger, which can develop into or exacerbate depression.

6. Set small goals – and chase them

No matter where you are on your journey to overcoming depression, working toward specific goals can help you live the life you want. You can start with setting one small goal to accomplish each day, such as writing down three things you are grateful for in your journal or going to bed ten minutes earlier. Aim for SMART goals – make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based

As you put these coping techniques into action, keep in mind that you are on the road to recovery from depression.

Patients who invent a rationale for why they are unable to accomplish these tasks, on the other hand, are more likely to experience depression. Doing many of these things every day — even when you do not feel like it — is critical to the treatment of depression, regardless of whatever medication you are taking. 

Depression Help in the Denver Area

You don’t need to battle depression alone. Seek the help of a professional counselor who can make you feel more empowered, fulfilled, and able to take on the challenges of the world.   We invite you to call us at 720-551-4553 for a free 20-minute phone consultation with an anxiety specialist. You can read more about our Depression therapy Services here.

Self Care Impact Counseling envisions a new age of counseling for adolescents, adults, couples & groups that makes a REAL difference with core values of GROWTH | BALANCE | COMPASSION | INNER HARMONY.