Seven Methods To Combat Depression Without MedicationSeven Methods To Combat Depression Without Medication

A theme that has been recurring throughout my coaching sessions recently is that of depression and what to do about it if you don't want to resort to psychotropic medication.

Some will tell you there is a chemical imbalance in the condition of depression. I am not here to argue that point one way or another. I do believe, however, our bodies are capable of creating the chemicals we need to alleviate depression without medication. The medication will do it physiologically, but I believe each of us is capable of generating the endorphins and serotonin we need to be happier and more content.

In thinking about my answers, I have organized them into seven categories. Because I believe we only have control over the things we do and the things we think, those are the areas on which I'll focus.

1. Gratitude: In thinking about the first place I like to go whenever I am feeling down, it's gratitude. It's very difficult to stay depressed when you are focusing on and enumerating the many things in your life to be grateful for. Just yesterday, I took a beautiful drive through northwestern Pennsylvania. The sky was a beautiful blue, the white clouds created a lovely contrast against the sky. The autumn leaves had turned gorgeous colors. During that drive, I was grateful for the season of the year, the sun to warm the earth, the fact that I have a reliable car and enough money to put gas in the gas tank. I was happy for another day on the Earth. I was grateful for my health.

Whenever you are feeling depressed, you can keep your thoughts focused on all you don't have or you can consciously focus them on the things you do have. Which do you think will help you feel better?

2. Say Thank You: This is a behavioral extension of the cognitive method of gratitude. Saying thank you is actually taking the time to let the important people in your life know you appreciate what they do or have done for you.

Throughout my life, I have had teachers and helpers who have made my life better in some ways. One year, when I was feeling particularly down about my husband dying, I decided I didn't want to feel that way anymore. I wanted to thank all the people in my life who had significantly and positively impacted the lives of my sons during that challenging time.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I wrote thank you notes. I wrote about 30 of them to those individuals who had made a difference in my life by helping my children. There were friends, relatives, teachers, principals, and church families to thank. By the time I was finished, I was brimming with beautiful, wonderful thoughts and feelings.

3. Volunteerism: No matter had bad things seem, you should always be able to find someone who needs help that you can offer your services to. I was working with a client who was missing her mother who had died within the past year. She decided to volunteer helping the family of a child who was dying of cancer. This obviously wasn't the best choice, because it made her feel even worse so be careful with your choosing your cause but find something or someone and offer to help. Seeing your positive impact on others and the usefulness you bring is bound to boost your spirits.

4. Connection: Relationships are the root of all influence. When you are feeling depressed, often it is because you are feeling disconnected from important people in your life. The antidote for disconnection is connection. If you have become disconnected from loved ones who are still here, then attempt to connect. Try to correct your part in the rift. This may require forgiveness.

If the person has died or left by decision, then reach out for others who are available to you in such a way that you are adding to the relationship and not simply coming from a place of need. Connect with people who care about you.

5. Passion: Everyone was put here on Earth with a particular passion or passions--things that we get a supreme enjoyment from, are good at, and their performance contributes to the good of others. When was the last time you engaged in the thing or things that are your passion? Now would be a great time.

6. Laughter: Science has shown us that laughter creates the very endorphins we need to lift our spirits. If you can't find something funny to laugh at, just start laughing even if you don't feel like it. "Fake it till you make it" and the laughter will become genuine.

7. The Story You Tell: In our depressed moods, many of us are telling ourselves things that simply aren't true or at least we don't know they are true. Our thoughts and cognitions are often the very thing that is creating our depression in the first place. So, ask yourself what are you telling yourself that is contributing to your mood and then, inquire of yourself if you really know that to be true. If the answer is no, then what could you tell yourself that would improve your mood? If you are going to make it up anyway, why not make up something that will benefit you?

If you try these seven methods and find no improvement, then perhaps you might benefit from some counseling or coaching to help you determine what is at the root of the depression. Sometimes we have subconscious programming running in the back of our lives, telling us things we aren't even aware of, sabatoging our best efforts. Bringing those things to consciousness can help you really look at those beliefs and assumptions to learn if they are truly serving you. If they are not, then you can change them with some professional guidance.
by Kim Olver
References and Bibliography
Kim Olver is a life coach and public speaker. She has worked in the helping profession since 1982 and has spent her entire life helping people get along better with the important people in their lives. Kim works with couples, parents and children, and individuals seeking to improve their lives. Sign up for Kim's newsletter and receive a free chapter of her forthcoming book, Secrets of Successful Couples.
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