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Alternative Treatments for Depression

If you prefer natural therapies, then you might be searching for home remedies for depression. There is no conclusive evidence that any complementary and alternative treatment or home remedy is effective for moderate to severe depression, although these approaches may help milder forms of depression. However, some people with depression may feel that home remedies help cope with the condition.

If you have depression and are considering using a complementary/alternative form of therapy, it is important to seek the advice of your health care provider.

What Is an Alternative Therapy?

A health treatment that is not classified as standard Western medical practice is referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). CAM encompasses a variety of approaches. They include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Examples of CAM therapies include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Chiropractic treatments
  • Guided imagery
  • Dietary supplements
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation
  • Yoga

Which Herbal Supplements Can Help Depression?

There is a wide variety of herbal supplements that people believe can treat many illnesses. For depression, St. John's wort is a common herbal supplement that is used.

St. John's wort has been used for medical purposes in other parts of the world for thousands of years. But research findings have been mixed. It seems to work best for mild to moderate depression, not the more severe forms.

Other supplements that have varying amounts of evidence for depression are 5-HTP and SAMe.

Using an herbal supplement requires caution and should be taken only after consulting your doctor. This is because supplements could interact with medicines that you are also taking, and use could be dangerous for people with certain conditions. Your doctor can help you weigh the risks and potential benefits. That way, you can make an informed decision.

Is Meditation or Yoga Helpful for Depression?

Meditation is sometimes described as an altered state of consciousness. Meditation can help promote relaxation, which has been found to be helpful for depression. 

There is some evidence to suggest that yoga may be helpful for depression, but the evidence is not conclusive. Yoga involves meditation with physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation. Yoga practices vary, and some may not be recommended to people with certain medical conditions. In addition to meditation and yoga, you can use a number of other approaches such as progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, or music therapy.

How Does Massage Therapy Boost Relaxation?

Massage uses touch to help provide relaxation. Most touch therapies are based on the premises that the mind and body are interconnected and that physical health and emotional well-being are closely linked. The belief is that, when the body is relaxed, the mind contributes to better health, less depression, and overall well-being.

There are also reports that mind/body exercises used with various types of bodywork can boost feelings of calmness. 

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