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13 Depression Treatments Worth Discussing With Your Doctor

Whether depression is new to you or a condition that’s been creeping up for years, there are plenty of strategies worth discussing with your doctor. Here are 13 depression treatments that can help you get back on track.

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Can’t shake the blues? These depression treatments might help.

Clinical depression goes far beyond ordinary sadnessit affects your relationships, work, sleep and appetite for an indefinite amount of time. We now know that depression is not just “all in your head,” but the result of chemical changes in the brain. Fortunately, there are many readily available depression treatments.

The non-drug therapies listed here may help with mild to moderate depression (more severe depression will require prescription medication). However, lifestyle and other alternative approaches can work with medication to improve your condition. When you’re feeling low, start here to begin working your way back to a positive mood.

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Depression Treatments: Talk to your Doctor

Contrary to popular belief, depression is very treatable with medication, therapy or both. In fact, some doctors and researchers estimate that, given the right treatment, recovery rates are as high as 98 per cent. Don’t try to work your way out of your depression on your own though-that’s dangerous.

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St. John's Wort is one of the many depression treatments available to sufferersPhoto: Shutterstock

Depression Treatments: St. John’s Wort

Take 300 milligrams of St. John’s Wort three times daily. Hyperforin, a main ingredient in St. John’s Wort, coaxes brain cells to take up more mood-elevating brain chemicals like serotonin, which brain cells produce and reabsorb like a sponge. St. John’s Wort can interact with prescription medications like birth control pills and heart medications, so talk with your doctor before taking it. You can take it along with antidepressant drugs as well.

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Depression Treatments: Start exercising

Although depression can leave you nearly catatonic in some cases, force yourself to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, preferably outside in the sunlight. Numerous studies show that a combination of aerobic exercise (such as walking) and strength training (such as weightlifting) works best at boosting mood. Yoga can also help improve mood.

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Depression Treatments: Fish oil

Take 1 to 2 grams fish oil supplements or 2 tablespoons (30 millilitres) flaxseed or 2 tablespoons (30 milligrams) flax oil daily. Studies link low levels of omega-3 fatty acids with depression and supplements of oils highs in omega-3s may help. In a study of 28 people with a major depressive disorder, those who supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids were significantly less depressed after eight weeks than those who took a placebo.

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Depression Treatments: Take antidepressants

There are dozens of antidepressant brands on the market. They generally start to work within three to six weeks, first lifting physiological symptoms such as insomnia and poor appetite, then boosting mood. If it doesn’t help within three weeks, talk to your doctor. Also, if your antidepressant triggers side effects like dry mouth, headaches or low sex drive, talk to your doctor to switch to an antidepressant with fewer side effects.

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Depression Treatments: Psychotherapy

Studies show that psychotherapy can be just as effective as prescription medications in treating mild to moderate depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are the most researched. Cognitive-behavioural therapy teaches you how to change thinking and behaviour patterns that contribute to depression. Interpersonal therapy teaches you how to better handle your relationships with others, particularly those that may be contributing to your depression.

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Depression Treatments: Journal writing

Writing down your thoughts, feelings and daily events can help you better cope with stressful situations. In one study, 20 people who were depressed wrote about their emotions and reactions daily for four months. Psychiatric nurses who evaluated the journals determined that the act helped participants cope better.

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Woman receiving electroacupuncture as one of her depression treatmentsPhoto: Shutterstock

Depression Treatments: Electroacupuncture

This twist on acupuncture, in which the acupuncture needles are attached to a device that generates electrical pulses, boosts mood by increasing levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. In a study completed on 106 depressed people, 15 minutes of electroacupuncture performed three times a week for a month significantly reduced fatigue and improved sleep and mood compared to a control group that received a sham form of acupuncture.

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Depression Treatments: Massage therapy

In a study of 32 people with depression, those who underwent three one-hour massage sessions spaced two to three days apart found their moods much improved compared to a control group that didn’t get a massage.

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Depression Treatments: Bright light therapy

This therapy works best for people with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression triggered by lack of sunlight during the winter months. You either sit outside up to two hours a morning or use a light box that delivers 10,000 lux of full-spectrum white light for two hours.

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Depression Treatments: Biofeedback

A biofeedback called neurofeedback teaches you to alter your brain wave patterns in a way that leads to a better mood.

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Depression Treatments: Posture

Believe it or not, improving your posture can improve your mood. When you stand up straight, you tend to think more positively, according to a study of 24 people.

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Depression Treatments: Music

Listening to music you enjoy can reduce stress, slow your heart rate and help you focus on your feelings. In one study, people with a major depressive disorder who listened to soft music for two weeks were significantly less depressed after the study than those who did not listen to music.

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