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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy. A mental health professional helps you learn ways to change negative behaviors and thinking patterns related to your depression.

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Experts don’t fully understand the link between food and depression. But they think eating lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, olive oil, and low-fat dairy may help. Red and processed meat, sugar, refined grains, and high-fat dairy could possibly raise your chance of depression. More research is needed.

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Aerobic exercise and resistance training may also help. Experts suggest at least 150 minutes a week. You can do that by exercising 30 minutes a day, for at least 5 days. Focus on things you enjoy, like walking, swimming, or gardening. Work them into your everyday routine.

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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

This is an option for people with depression and other mental illnesses that haven’t gotten better with other treatments, or for people who need help right away. Doctors send an electric current through your scalp to your brain, causing a short seizure. Your symptoms may briefly improve, but they’re likely to come back. Short-term memory loss is a possible side effect.

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Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

This is another choice for people who don’t get better with medication or don’t want to take it. It uses magnetic energy to trigger a part of your brain that balances mood. There are no needles, drugs, or cutting involved. Research shows it’s safe and works well to ease depression symptoms.

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Good Sleep

Sleeping well is important to your mental and physical health. But depression can make it hard to fall or stay asleep. Or you may snooze too much. Good sleep hygiene, like keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, can help. Shut off electronic devices 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. That way, the screen’s blue light won’t mess with your body’s release of sleep hormones, like melatonin. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex.

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Stress Relief

Long-term stress sometimes triggers depression. But knowing how to manage it makes a difference. Try your best to exercise and eat well. Make time for things you enjoy. If you’re still struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out to your family doctor or a therapist.

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Relaxation Techniques

Scientists are still studying the effects of relaxation techniques on depression, but many people find them helpful. They can also lessen stress. You can try meditation, massage, or guided imagery. Yoga, deep breathing, and tai chi are options, too.

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Herbal Supplements

Studies suggest supplements like St. John’s wort and ginkgo biloba may ease symptoms. More research is needed.

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Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and psychoactive drugs (also called recreational drugs) are known to trigger depression. They could even worsen your symptoms and make depression harder to treat. Talk to your doctor or therapist if you need help giving up drugs or alcohol.

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Reflexology and Acupuncture

Some believe your mind and body work together to keep you healthy. Acupuncture is a Chinese healing method where a provider sticks thin needles into your body to ward off and cure disease. They trigger the release of natural chemicals to fight the illness or symptom.Reflexology is pressure applied to different points on your body, like your ears or feet.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 03/16/2023 Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on March 16, 2023


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2) Aamulya / Getty Images

3) Jacob Ammentorp Lund / Getty Images

4) Will McIntyre / Science Source

5) Amélie Benoist / Science Source

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Cleveland Clinic: “Electroconvulsive Therapy,” “Depression: Alternative Therapies.”

Michigan Medicine, Department of Psychology: “Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.”

Mayo Clinic: “Depression (major depressive disorder),” “Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress.”

CDC: “Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety,” “How much physical activity do adults need?” “Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight.”

National Institute of Mental Health: “5 Things You Should Know About Stress.”

Narcolepsy Network: “Practice Good Sleep Hygiene.” “How Blue Light Affects Kids’ Sleep.”

American Psychological Association: “What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Psychiatry Research: “Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis.”

American Family Physician: “Depression and Anxiety Disorders: Benefits of Exercise, Yoga, and Meditation.”

Systematic Reviews: “A systematic review of St. John's wort for major depressive disorder.”

Medicine: “Role of Ginkgo biloba extract as an adjunctive treatment of elderly patients with depression and on the expression of serum S100B.”

Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on March 16, 2023

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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