- Sahaja Relieves Depression
- Other Treatments
- Depression - Natural Remedies
- Overview of Depression
- Forms of Depression
- Gender, Culture & Age Variations
- Diagnosing Depressive Disorders
- Causes Overview
- Depression in the Brain
- Genes & Family Links
- Psychosocial Stressors
- Negative Thinking - Depression
- Immunity-Related Causes
- Depression Due to Medical Disorders
Other Treatment Approaches for Depression
Psychotherapy is a standard treatment for depression. Psychotherapy involves talking to a trained mental health professional (such as a psychiatrist or psychologist) to discover the root causes of your depression and to develop effective strategies for conquering it. Most psychotherapists consider Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) to be the talk therapy of choice for depression, though, in practice, most therapists are eclectic, and will draw upon other therapeutic frameworks as necessary to achieve individual treatment goals. (For example, Interpersonal therapy (IPT) may also be used to help people understand and work through troubled personal relationships that can contribute to depression.)
Evidence-based Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) is an effective approach to treating depression.
CBT focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings and behavior. It helps change self-damaging behaviors by helping people change the faulty thought process (e.g., beliefs, attitudes, mental imagery) behind those behaviors. A cognitive-behavioral therapist helps you learn to recognize distorted thinking, challenge those distortions, and alter the thought processes that are causing and perpetuating depression. Once you learn to recognize distorted perceptions, it becomes easier to break bad habits and stop reacting to situations in self-destructive ways.
Successful treatment involves you.
Recovery is a partnership. The collaborative patient-therapist relationship of CBT encourages patients to actively participate in getting better, which tends to yield faster results and lower recurrence rates. CBT is a process of learning, exploring and testing that helps you acquire new coping strategies, as well as enhanced awareness, introspection and evaluation skills. CBT helps empower you to make good choices by effectively processing and controlling thoughts and feelings, which reduces the likelihood of relapse and, ultimately, reduces your reliance on therapy. A good therapist, in other words, helps you learn how to help yourself.
Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT) can be used alone or in conjunction with pharmacology.
For some people with mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy alone can be as effective as antidepressants for treating depression and prevent recurrence. For moderate to severe depression, psychotherapy, paired with antidepressant medication and/or other adjunct therapies such as meditation and natural remedies may be the most effective course of treatment.
The following simple strategies will enhance any treatment for depression:
- Do things you enjoy. Participate in activities that make you feel better — feel good. Do whatever works for you. Sit on a park bench, listen to music, launch a creative project, go to a movie, a ballgame, a party. Participate in fulfilling spiritual, humanitarian and social activities that you enjoy.
- Move. Get those feel-good brain chemicals circulating! Exercise is also a great self-esteem booster.
- Stop beating yourself up. Take your mental health seriously, but don’t beat yourself up for “feeling bad.” Criticizing yourself or feeling embarrassed because you feel depressed only decreases your self-esteem, exacerbates your symptoms, and demotivates you to be proactive, seek help.
- Let others help you. Confide in someone rather than remaining lonely and secretive. Discuss your problems with people who know you well and can take a more objective, distanced view of your situation.
- Slow down. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Make coping easier. Postpone major decisions, if possible. Avoid significant life changes, such as changing jobs, getting married, getting divorced. Break large tasks into smaller ones, set priorities, and just focus on doing as much as you can, as you can.
- Do something else. If you feel yourself becoming paralyzed by negative thoughts and feelings, don’t use avoidance behaviors (such as comfort eating or crawling into bed). Jot down those thoughts in a journal, set them aside and distract yourself in a healthy way. Call a friend, exercise, dive into a creative project. When you later reread what you wrote, chances are you’ll view your thoughts with a more objective perspective.
- Exercise. Most therapists will tell you that some form of physical exercise should be a part of any depression therapy. Depression makes the body heavy and sluggish, and feeling heavy and sluggish exacerbates depression and fuels the cycle. Energetic, aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate stimulates brain chemicals, and provides an easy, safe outlet for releasing negative emotions. Exercise triggers endorphin secretion. Endorphin are an endogenous or natural opioid that energizes the body and mind and endows a sense of well-being. Physical fitness also boosts self-image, self-esteem and confidence, all of which help counter depression.
- Eat well. Diet plays a huge role in mood, energy and sense of well-being. For example, high-fiber foods boost energy and metabolism. The omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood help bolster mood. On the other hand, a high intake of caffeine, sugar and alcohol can contribute to depressed mood.
How Family and Friends Can Help
The most important thing anyone can do for a depressed person is to offer emotional support… understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Help the person understand that depression is a common illness, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Family and friends can help people suffering from depression with regular encouragement and support.
Don’t expect a depressed person “to snap out of it.” Don’t accuse the person of “faking it” or being lazy. Engage him or her in conversation, and listen. Point out distorted thinking when it occurs, but carefully, without invalidating his or her feelings. Always offer hope. Keep reassuring the person that, with time and help, he or she will feel better. Encourage him or her to stick with treatment until symptoms vanish, or to seek different treatment if there’s no improvement.
Be gently persistent, allowing them to recover in their own way, in their own time.
Encourage the person to participate in activities that once gave him or her pleasure, but don’t push too hard. Being pressured by others or taking on too much too soon can cause a depressed person can increase feelings of failure. Invite him or her to social events; if your invitation is refused, be gently persistent.
Natural, Complementary and Alternative Extensions to Therapy
Natural therapies tend to be most effective for mild to moderate depression. However, since the odds of side effects or adverse interactions with medications or herbal medicines is extremely low, many are also effective in combination therapies, even for severe depression.
Sahaja meditation is safe, effective, and serves as a wonderful complement to other therapies.
In general, Sahaja meditation is safe, effective, and tends to partner extremely well with other natural complementary and adjunct therapies. However, this website cannot certify the effectiveness of any of the following treatments, nor can it present data to support the effectiveness or safety of any combination therapy; i.e., any treatment used in conjunction with Sahaja meditation or any therapies you may currently be using. (Exceptions may be healthy exercise and diet; Sahaja meditation is certainly compatible with those!)
Give Sahaja meditation a try.
While there has always been evidence suggesting that various forms of meditation have been used commonly, safely and effectively with popular adjunct therapies, the body of research supporting them is relatively small. Thus, it’s virtually impossible to say that these therapies would not interfere with the quality of any one individual’s meditation sessions. The Sahaja organization cannot necessarily offer any collective wisdom for adjunct therapies, nor does it adopt a black-and-white view of what works and what doesn’t; rather it leaves that decision to practitioners. The best advice may be to try Sahaja meditation as a standalone therapy first and if you feel that additional therapies are warranted, discuss them with your doctor.
Common complementary or adjunct therapies include:
- Acupuncture may help balance blood flow throughout the body and resolve underlying energetic imbalances contributing to depression. Stimulating acupuncture points has been shown to release endorphins and enkephalins, evoking a calming, mood-elevating effect. *NOTE: The view amongst Sahaja practitioners is that acupuncture can be potentially harmful to the subtle energy system, thus acupuncture may be contraindicated with Sahaja meditation.
- Acupressure can alleviate physical symptoms of depression, as well as the lethargy of mild depression. Acupressure is performed by applying steady, firm pressure on specific points along the body. According to Chinese medicine, depression can occur when you repress certain emotions, such as anger or guilt.
- Biofeedback (Neurotherapy): Receiving EEG (brainwave) feedback can reduce the severity of depression. Biofeedback is obtained by attaching an apparatus that measures physiological responses ( heart rate, muscle tension, skin temperature and brain waves) to the subject while he or she focuses on a sensory cue that induces relaxation. The goal of biofeedback is to alter brainwave patterns through training. Biofeedback training is a systematic approach to learning how to relax and achieve more positive physiological responses by making us aware of how we respond to stress. Refocusing energy in a self-empowering way enables the subject to have greater control over autonomic nervous system reactions, including those triggered by stress (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure).
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): Some NIMH studies have suggested that repetitive magnetic stimulation of nerve cells in the brain’s left prefrontal cortex can help relieve symptoms for some depressives. A large electromagnetic coil is placed against the scalp near the forehead and an electromagnet creates electric currents that stimulate nerve cells. More studies are needed to conclusively determine TMS’s effectiveness and any possible long-term side effects. For this reason, TMS is generally not a first-line treatment. It is typically used when other depression treatments have failed.
- Hypnotherapy can be effective in treating mild depression and anxiety in some cases, particularly when used as a relaxation technique. Clinical hypnosis can help people bring harmful repressed memories to the surface in order to deal with them. *NOTE: The view amongst Sahaja meditation practitioners is that hypnotherapy or hypnosis may not be compatible with meditation as it could potentially have a long-term impact on attentional control in meditation.
- Aromatherapy. For some, mild depressive symptoms may be mitigated by applying certain essential oils on the skin, such as: basil, bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, jasmine, myrrh, neroli, rose, sandalwood, spruce, orange, and ylang ylang.
- Chiropractic. Chiropractic involves manipulating the spine, joints and soft tissue to improve the body’s structural integrity and nervous system functioning, thus improving overall mental and physical health. By relieving neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction, influencing neurochemicals, and balancing sympathetic and parasympathetic system functioning, chiropractic treatments can often help relieve the somatic symptoms of depression, such as insomnia or hypersomnia, appetite dysregulation, fatigue, lethargy and energy loss. Chiropractic can also elevate mood, relieve stress, and restore an overall sense of well-being.
- Phototherapy, also known as light therapy or light box therapy, can be effective in treating mood disorders, including both bipolar and unipolar depression. In phototherapy, the eyes are directly exposed to full-spectrum bright light from a special light source, such as a light box or light visor. Phototherapy can be particularly effective for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during affected seasons (e.g., winter), though studies suggest that at least half of those with SAD cannot conquer depression with light therapy alone.Phototherapy tends to provide quick results. Sessions generally occur in the morning hours and last for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the strength of the light and severity of symptoms. Phototherapy has been known to trigger a manic episode in some bipolar individuals, thus it should be used cautiously and only in short courses (for example, to alleviate symptom severity or shorten a depressive episode). Side effects are rare, but may include eye-strain, headaches or insomnia. Scheduling only morning sessions tends to prevent insomnia, and all side effects may be reduced through dawn simulation, a technique in which light intensity is gradually increased over time to simulate a naturally rising sun.
Herbal Medicines & Other Natural Remedies for Depression
Some herbal and homeopathic medicines can be taken in conjunction with pharmaceutical antidepressants, or can, in some cases, even replace them, especially for those with mild to moderate depression. Herbal medicines generally partner well with other natural or alternative therapies, as noted in the above section.
Remedies commonly used to treat depression include: St. John’s Wort, Omega-3, Rhodiola Rosea, Zinc, 5-HTP, and SAM-e.