Depression affects millions of people around the globe every year. If you or someone you love suffers from depression, you may want to consider some new alternatives to conventional treatments.
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, anger, restlessness, fatigue, trouble sleeping, poor concentration, and suicidal thoughts.
Factors that increase your risk of developing depression
Several factors increase your risk of developing depression:
- Genetics – Your genes influence how your body reacts to stress. People with a family history of depression have an increased risk of suffering from depression themselves.
- Life events – Stressful life events such as losing a job, getting divorced, or having a child can trigger depression.
- Brain chemistry – Certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) play a role in regulating mood. These include serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
- Hormones – Changes in hormone levels can affect your mood. For example, women who go through menopause are more prone to depression because estrogen levels drop.
- Medications – Certain medications can cause depression. Examples include certain antidepressants and birth control pills.
- Sleep – Lack of adequate sleep can contribute to depression. Getting enough rest each night helps regulate hormones and improve energy levels.
- Alcohol consumption – Drinking too much alcohol can worsen symptoms of depression. Moderate drinking is not associated with depression.
- Smoking – Cigarette smoking increases your risk of heart disease and cancer. In addition, nicotine may interfere with brain function and reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants.
What are alternatives to antidepressants?
Antidepressant medications block certain chemicals in the brain that make you sad or depressed. There are many different antidepressants on the market today, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
However, these medications can have side effects such as nausea, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, headaches, and weight gain. Some patients also report feeling more anxious after taking an antidepressant.
Alternative therapies may be helpful when traditional treatment options aren’t working. Alternative antidepressant treatments include anything outside of standard medical treatment. Some common examples include acupuncture, meditation, yoga, exercise, herbal remedies, nutritional supplements, hypnosis, biofeedback, music therapy, art therapy, massage, aromatherapy, and chiropractic care.
Alternative treatments for depression
Antidepressant alternatives are a non medication treatment for depression. These alternative approaches include:
Acupuncture is a type of traditional medicine that uses fine, sterile needle insertion to stimulate certain points in your body. Acupuncturists believe that acupuncture stimulates the flow of energy through the meridians, which run throughout the body. They say this helps balance the mind and body.
In hypnosis, the patient enters a state of altered consciousness where they become suggestible. Hypnotists use guided imagery techniques to help their clients relax and focus on positive emotions. People with depression can talk about their feelings and emotions in this relaxed state without making themselves feel more stressed or anxious.
In addition, you become more responsive to suggestions your therapist/hypnotist makes. Hypnotherapy can assist in identifying undesirable or harmful habits and potentially help to replace them with better behavior. Examples include improving pain or anxiety control or changing unfavorable thought habits that can exacerbate depressive symptoms.
Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) injections are an alternative treatment for depression. SGB treatment is safe to use and does not harm your body. In addition, it is an effective and fast-acting antidepressant. SGB treatment works by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is one of the chemicals that helps control mood. The more serotonin you have, the happier you feel.
Patients receive an injection into the nerves of the neck by a board-certified doctor. Most patients feel relief after 15-20 minutes after the procedure.
SGB injections also treat other conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety, and panic attacks. Talk to your doctor about whether SGB is right for you. They will consider factors like age, health history, current medical condition, and lifestyle.
If you’re considering SGB injections as an alternative treatment for your depression, contact us at SGB Docs. Our board-certified doctors have a combined experience of 40 years. We will provide you with all the information you need to feel comfortable with the procedure and will assist you in treating your depression.
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This therapy combines mindfulness practices with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT teaches patients to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more rational ones. Mindfulness practice helps people learn to pay attention to what’s happening right now without getting caught up in past experiences or future worries.
Stress management techniques
Stress management techniques teach people how to manage stress effectively so that it doesn’t affect their moods. Examples include yoga, tai chi, and biofeedback.
- Biofeedback is a technique to help people learn how to control their body functions, such as blood pressure or muscle tension. It involves measuring an individual’s physiological responses (such as heart rate) while performing some task (like breathing deeply). Then, based on this information, the person learns to alter their behavior to achieve better results.
- Yoga is another popular stress management technique. Yoga is an ancient Indian exercise discipline that emphasizes stretching and poses designed to strengthen muscles and open the body. Yoga consists of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. Yoga aims to strengthen the muscles and balance the body, reducing stress and improving overall health. Some studies have found that practicing yoga can ease anxiety and depression.
- Tai chi is also considered a form of exercise that promotes mental well-being. Tai chi is a slow-moving martial art that emphasizes balance, coordination, and concentration. It was initially developed in China during the Ming Dynasty, but today many different styles exist worldwide.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells have been around since the beginning of time. However, they were not discovered until recently. These stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can develop into any type of cell in the body. In recent years, scientists have discovered how to isolate these stem cells from various parts of the human body.
One of the best places to get them is bone marrow. Bone marrow contains adult stem cells and hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Adult stem cells repair damaged organs, while HSCs make blood cells. Scientists believe that if we could stimulate the growth of HSC, we would be able to treat many different types of conditions, including depression.
Brain stimulation therapy uses electrical impulses to activate specific regions of the brain. There are two ways to do this; non-invasive and invasive. Non-invasive methods use devices like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). TMS works by using a strong magnet placed on the head to send electric pulses to the brain. ECT uses electricity to shock the brain, causing neurons to fire. Both of these treatments work well for severe cases of depression.
However, they are only effective for mild to moderate depression. Invasive methods like deep brain stimulation (DBS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are more effective than non-invasive methods. DBS involves implanting electrodes directly into the brain, sending signals to certain areas of the brain. Vagus nerve stimulation sends messages to the brain via the vagus nerve. This method is less invasive than DBS and is often used for treatment-resistant depression.
Ketamine was initially developed in the 1960s as an anesthetic. Since then, ketamine has been shown to be an antidepressant. Ketamine is a dissociative drug, meaning that it creates a state of detachment from reality.
When given at low doses, it produces feelings of euphoria and increased alertness. At higher doses, it causes hallucinations and delusions similar to schizophrenia. Ketamine has been proven successful in treating patients who have failed to respond to traditional antidepressants.
Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in the hemp plant. Compared to THC, CBD does not have the same psychoactive effects. However, it has become popular due to its potential therapeutic value. CBD oil is studied for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticonvulsant, analgesic, and anxiolytic properties. CBD oil may help relieve symptoms of anxiety disorders, epilepsy, chronic pain, and insomnia.
Music has long been known to lift peoples’ moods and increase their energy levels and is an excellent alternative to antidepressants. Research shows that listening to music can change the structure of our brains. Listening to upbeat music changes the activity in the amygdala, which is the part of the brain associated with emotions. Listening to sad music activates the anterior cingulate cortex, which is linked to motivation and reward. So, next time you need a pick me up, put on some music!
Exercise releases endorphin chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. Endorphins are released during exercise and act as antidepressants. A study published showed that depressed patients who exercised had lower relapse rates than those who did not exercise.
Exercise also improves sleep quality and reduces stress levels. In addition, exercise has also been proven to boost self-esteem and fight negative thinking patterns like rumination and perfectionism.
Herbal supplements are a nondrug treatment for depression that is used to treat depression because they contain natural substances that may help relieve symptoms. The following are some of the best-known:
St John’s wort – St. John’s wort is one of the oldest antidepressants used. It contains hyperforin, an active ingredient that increases serotonin levels. It also works well for mild to moderate depression. Some studies have shown it to be just as effective as Prozac. However, St. John’s wort can cause skin rashes, and interactions with certain medications can lead to severe side effects.
SAMe – S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a natural substance made by the body that plays a role in cell growth and repair. Research suggests that SAMe may improve depression by affecting chemicals in the brain called monoamines, which are important chemical messengers in the brain. They include norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals play a role in regulating mood and emotions. SAMe may increase the serotonin available in the brain, another neurotransmitter affecting mood.
5 HTP – 5 hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) is an essential building block for serotonin. Taking a 5HTP supplement may boost serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that affects our emotions and behavior. Research shows that patients who took 5HTP experienced significant improvement in depressive symptoms.
Rhodiola Rosea – Rhodiola Rosea is a perennial shrub that grows in cold climates. It is sometimes called golden root because its roots turn yellow when exposed to sunlight. Natural adaptogens like Rhodiola Rosea are thought to assist the body cope with emotional and physical stress. This makes it useful for treating depression as an alternative depression treatment.
In conclusion, we need to remember that while medication may work for some patients, it doesn’t always work for everyone. Alternative depression treatments should be considered for those who don’t respond to traditional medications.