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Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Alternatives for Mood Disorders

There are lots of alternative treatments for clinical depression and anxiety disorders, but you may need tried-and-true treatments.
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Again, omega-3 is not intended to replace other medications, but it can help in treating clinical depression. There's no downside to eating an omega-3-rich diet, experts say.

Mind-Body Relaxation

Whether it's guided imagery, meditation, or yoga, anyone who suffers from clinical depression or anxiety disorders can benefit from some mind-body relaxation technique, says Glick.

"We feel it's really key that someone experiencing clinical depression, anxiety disorders, fatigue, or insomnia get hooked up with a mind-body technique," he tells WebMD. "It can help with mood, concentration, and energy."

Indeed, studies of meditation -- an ancient spiritual tradition -- show that daily meditation can have long-lasting positive effects on heart rate and other physiological processes, reports Herbert Benson, MD, president of the Mind/Body Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Yoga, tai chi, Lamaze breathing, and repetitive prayer (like a rosary) can do the same thing, says Benson. Any condition that is caused or exacerbated by stress can be relieved by these means -- and that includes clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Relaxation is the key, however it is achieved, he says.

Biofeedback -- which involves "training" the mind to control heart rate and other biophysical responses -- can also provide relief, says Glick. "The person learns to focus on their heart rate, on relaxation, on their emotions -- and learns to make heart rate less chaotic. We've found it can have direct benefit for people with clinical depression and anxiety disorders."

Exercise

We've heard it before: Regular exercise can beat the blues. But research suggests it helps with all levels of depression, even the most severe. Exercise may also help keep depression from coming back.

We're talking about aerobic exercise -- getting your heart pumping, getting winded, and doing it for at least 20 minutes three times week, says Glick.

One study showed that people who kept exercising after they recovered from depression had a lower risk of relapse compared with those who took antidepressant medication but did not exercise, reports James A. Blumenthal, PhD, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University Medical Center.

Leuchter agrees: Exercise helps clinical depression and anxiety disorders. "I recommend that patients do exercise, be active. It helps with recovery. But I would not recommend it as a sole treatment."

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