Medications don’t work on their own. The steps below help antidepressants work better because they change the body in ways that medications do not. They reduce inflammation, set the biological clock, and stabilize stress hormones. Learn more in The Depression and Bipolar Workbook (PESI, 2020)
This Mediterranean-style diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil. No foods are outlawed and calories are not restricted, but weight loss can be a side effect. It worked as well as medication in a series of clinical trials. It also sharpens memory and prevents a host of medical problems.
These are the healthy oils that coat brain cells. They are good for just about every psychiatric problem we know of, from mood to memory to irritability. Medically speaking, the help the skin, heart, liver, and eye. The trick is to get a product with the right ingredients, and we’ve got a list of of them.
Rising out of bed at the same time each day improves depression by setting the body’s internal clock. That clock is run by neurohormones, and those get misaligned during depression. Trouble waking up? Try the next step for help with that.
You don’t need to exercise intensively to treat depression. Brisk walking, slower than a jog but faster than a walk, will do. It boosts memory and works as well as an antidepressant. Stuck indoors? Try Happy Walk or Walk at Home videos.
Too tired for brisk walking? Try a stroll in the forest. A 90 minute walk in the woods reduces ces depressive rumination and improves concentration. It also changes areas of the brain involved in depression. Walking near lakes, rivers, and oceans, or with a pet, has a similar effect.
Absorbing activity – the type that gets you out of your head – is a powerful antidepressant. Sports, board games, puzzles, conversation, a good book or movie, cooking, knitting, art, music, dance, spiritual activity, walking, volunteering, gardening, researching, and engaging projects.
Practices once restricted to luxury spas are now used to treat depression. Massage, yoga, mindfulness meditation,warm baths, and rhythmic breathing are just a few. Sudarshan Kriya is a breathing practice used in yoga that can enhance the growth of brain cells and improve depression even when antidepressants haven’t worked
These devices purify the air by creating negative air ions. Through an accidental discovery we learned that they treat depression. The fresh scent they give off is reminiscent of waterfalls, rain forests, and ocean breezes.
Restful activity before bed deepens sleep. Meditative music, aromatherapy (try lavender or rosemary), dim lights, and a warm bath. Too much electronic-blue light in the evening disrupts sleep and worsens mood, and special glasses that filter it out have significant benefits for sleep and bipolar disorder.
Still having trouble sleeping? CBT-i is a sleep therapy that has stronger biological effects than sleep meds. It realigns the brain’s sleep drive, circadian rhythms, and reduces inflammation. It also treated depression in over a dozen clinical trials. CBT-i is best done with the guidance of a therapist, but this brief guide and free app to get you started.