Non-phamaceutical remedies for depression

I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, at least since adolescence. Right now life is pretty tough,what with my kids moving out of state, my cruddy dead-end job, the stress of the end of the semester, and not knowing if I’ll be in school next semester (meaning I’ll have to pay back those student loans.)

I have no health insurance, and if I did the co-payments would probably eat me alive, so drugs and therapy are not really options. What else can I do to get this monkey, or gorilla, or whatever off my back? A change in diet, exercise, what?

Exercise is one of the things that I consistently hear recommended by physicians to help counter depression or a generally “down” mood.

Here’s a link about depression from the Mayo Clinic site. I’d say you should read the whole thing, but it sounds like the section on Self-Care is especially a good one for you. Check out the Coping Skills (recommends a couple of support groups) and Complementary and Alternative Medicine sections as well.

Just FYI, if you do get health insurance, most HMO copayments are only about $5-10 per visit - I’m not sure if a therapist would be covered, but a primary care physician could at least make a referral to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. So please don’t let fears of big bills prevent you from even trying to get help if you do get coverage.

There’s also a SDMB online support group for depression - hopefully someone else will be along soon to tell you where to find it.

Make sure to eat your fish, or take an essential fatty acid supplement. There’s research being done into those as a treatment for depression, and they seem to work.

I have had great luck with St. John’s Wort. Also, there are some groups across the country that get together a few times a week just to laugh. They laugh out loud for a duration of 10 or 15 minutes. I have read that it can be effective. I have found too that if I force a smile, my mood lifts some, but you must be diligent.

I agree with the exercise argument. It helped me. Also, keep a sense of humor.

Exercise, plus stop drinking alchohol. And try to keep yourself busy doing things you find interesting. If you just have a mild case, this may be enough. Good luck!

There are no words to tell you how wonderful it is to come out from under the cloud of depression. I hope you can.
Try local free or reduced fee clinics or Medical schools. You may need a doctors help and you can find and afford it if you try.
There is no magic pill by Rx or otherwise that I know of. It takes a lifetime of work that only you can do to find happiness.
My first suggestion is to love a pet. Dogs are great for loving you back and making you get out of the house.

Take one puppy and call me in the morning. :slight_smile:

Another vote for St. John’s Wort. Whilst it should IMHO be regarded as a ‘pharmaceutical’, it doesn’t have the associated costs. I’ve heard it lacks some of the undesirable side effects of regular antidepressants, but since I’ve never used those, I couldn’t comment personally.

St. John’s Wort works well for some, but do remember that it has the unpleasant side effect of increasing the speed with which other drugs leave your system. So birth control pills, antibiotics, etc… may not work as well.

I have seen some of those reports and asked my Doctor about them. He did not give them credance and was supportive of me using St. John’s Wort. HOWEVER, some studies do report what msichievous said - and in any case, it is wise to consult your Doctor before taking anything.

An alternative, one that does not have the effect that mischievous reports is called SamE. I have not used it so cannot testifiy to its efficacy and will also mention that it is much more costly.

I’m getting through depression, here’s how you do it:

Coffee (not sure if Caffeine in general) is a mild anti-depressant, and always makes me more outgoing and productive. A good diet and excersize are good. Find an area -any area- in your life that you can bulid confidence in. Maybe your good at school and bad with people (me) or vice versa. Be succesful at one, it helps with the other. Also I cant stress this enough: sleep regularly and sleep exactly 8 hours. Get into a natural rhithym(sp?). Minimize your stress, but try to still have things to work on for fun. For instance dont try to balance a million things at once, but maybe there’s a small, fun project youre looking to dedicate serious time to. Get outside. take risks ESPECIALLY the ones you think are hopless.

Also - See if you can work with therapists on rates, some cities (my hometown does) will offer

You mentioned that you’re in school now . . . do they have a therapist? If so, you’ve probably already paid his or her fee with your tuition. Go see if your university has anything like a “Counseling Services Center.”

Sorry I don’t have anything else constructive to add. Sounds like you’re dealing with some pretty hard stuff right now. Hang in there!

Some people’s depression is caused by a lack of sunlight. Open up the curtains and get yourself outside.

Don’t assume that there’s no possibility of affordable treatment. There are institutes that will charge on a sliding scale depending on your ability to pay. Even if you can’t get health services through your school, there must be some sort of counseling services. Since you are definitely not the first student to feel this way, they should at least know where to refer you if they can’t help themselves.

Since no one else has mentioned it –

Find (if necessary, FORM) a support group, composed entirely of yourself and other depressed folks. Come together, listen to each other, try to be there for each other. Care, because you know what it’s like. Come to realize that someone cares about you too, and that they know what it’s like. Share what gets you through, and how you cope with the times you just want to turn out the lights and slip under the bed with a blanket and stay there indefinitely.

The best mental health system ever devised by our species is the user-run self-help group.

Thanks to all who have posted–I appreciate it.

I have a dog–knothead that he is, I generally enjoy him, except when he keeps making that whiny sound…

I thought of the counseling center here at school, but if I’m dropping out next semester (I learned a long time ago that depression and school do not mix–I almost flunked out as an undergrad several times due to end of semester blues) I don’t think starting something I can’t finish is the way to go.

As far as getting enough sleep goes, I’m a security guard on the night shift, so if I get more than 4 hours of sleep in a row I’m lucky.

I’d like to do things I enjoy, but the problem with depression is that you don’t enjoy anything. Besides I have nobody to do it with, and that’s no fun either.

The last therapist I saw was 25 bucks a week copay, not including the medicine, and that’s a big chunk of my limited income. I have issues (pun intended!) with therapists, because either I’m supposed to get better on my own (but keep those payments coming in) or if I would just suck it up and be a man I wouldn’t have this problem.

I don’t mean to sound all whiny, and I’m not trying to throw a big pity party, but I’m just trying to feel better. I guess I don’t know what it’s like to feel happy, because I never have.

I can only speak for what has worked for me in the past: regular and high intensity exercise.

Regular sex also helps because it helps me battle insomnia and hence avoid the insomnia-depression spiral that I can fall into.

Some good advice here; I’ve tried almost everything listed (not the St. John’s Wort), and have found them alll helpful to varying degrees at different times.

Also, I’ve found music very, very helpful in altering my moods. Sometimes I need to listen to something really schmaltzy and cathartic. Sometimes I need to listen to something bouncy to whack me out of my funk. And sometimes I just need to pick up my guitar and play until my fingertips turn purple. They all have their time and place. Plus, I find that my guitar classmates are really nice, and I have a major crush on the teacher, which always helps cheer me up!

If you can’t pring for a class or other group activity that you enjoy, why not try to join a group that does things for free? A bike club or something, if that’s your thing? Kill two birds with one stone; get exercise and meet new people at the same time!

I am not a physician, only a survivor of clinical depression.

I know that you asked for non-pharmaseutical suggestionss and you have been offered very sound advice. I would add not to do any recreational drugs, including pot and alcohol.

But I hope that you will treat yourself with the respect that you deserve and see that you have a serious illness that needs treatment. And you are not to blame for it!!! I hope that if your depression continues, you will consider medication.

If medication works for you, you wouldn’t have to see your therapist once a week. I see mine once a month. Others see a therapist maybe every three months. And the sessions are only 15-20 minutes long. Our focus is on the present and not on the past. Also, a regular physician may prescribe the medication for you and not require frequent visits. (Be prepared to take your medicine regularly. It may take four to six weeks to take effect. Meanwhile, keep in mind that prozac and its generic forms are not “happy pills.” But they can allow you to be “who you really are.”

It sounds to me like you had a bad therapist. Find someone you can trust. If your therapist told you just to “suck it up and be a man,” she or he is bad news. A good therapist would not say that anymore than an oncologist would say that to a cancer patient. Clinical depression is not a matter of attitude. The source of a person’s attitude is in the brain. If you have depression, your brain is probably not functioning as it should. So you can’t rely on it to take control of your getting well. The depression may actually have a physical cause.

Treat yourself as though you have a serious illness. You do. Don’t let it get to the terminal stage.

I don’t pay very much for a month’s supply of the generic form of prozac – about $25. I don’t know if that is a mistake on the part of the pharmacy or not. At any rate, you might ask your pharmacist.

Depression is not a character flaw. Ease up on yourself.

I wish you speedy relief whichever path you choose.

Actually researching depression online and realizing that one is not alone and people get out of it and have happy fulfilling lives is one succesful way I deal with it.

Have you tried marijuana? Seriously!..occasional use has done wonders for me, and a few others I know…