Depression can cause distress in many different aspects of one’s life including home, work and school. Research shows that of those who seek treatment for depression, approximately 80% find long term, effective results. The most popular methods of relieving depression related symptoms include:
- Prescription Medications
- Natural Alternatives and Medicines
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy based programs
Each of these categories is discussed in further detail below. I have written my overview of prescription medications at the bottom of this page, as most people are familiar with how this treatment option works.
Natural Alternative Medicines
Amidst the news reports and warnings related to prescription anti-depressants in the last decade, many people are turning to natural alternaitve medicines in an effort to curb the many symptoms associated with depression related disorder. In fact, alternative medicine use has increased over 300% among adults, teens and children in the last ten years.
Reinforced by tons of clinical and case studies, natural therapeutic agents like St. Johns Wort, Kava Kava, Valerian Root, 5-HTP and SAM-e have been shown to produce significant anti-depressive results in patients taking one, or some of these ingredients for periods ranging from one to twelve weeks.
Though natural alternative retailers sell many different formulations with combinations of all types of ingredients, I highly recommend exploring the following natural constituents before purchasing any products. The ingredients detailed below have all been clinically studied and shown to be effective in relieving symptoms commonly associated with depression (and anxiety). Their safety has been detailed in hundreds of clinical trials with less than 1.5% of users reporting mild side effects. Severe side effects as a result of taking any of the ingredients listed below are extremely rare. Please keep in mind that natural alternatives are not regulated by the FDA, and therfore, have not been approved for the treatment of depression. However, as you will see below, there is most definitely a benefit in taking a complimentary therapy.
St. Johns Wort – SJW is one of the most widely used natural ‘anti-depressants’ available. Clinical research indicates that St. Johns Wort helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression over a period of 2 – 6 weeks. When tested head-to-head with two popular prescription medications, St. Johns Wort with hyperforin extract was shown to be just as effective! more..
Valerian Root – Commonly known for it’s sedative effects on the central nervous system, Valerian provides immediate relaxation and relief for sleep difficulty. Lack of sleep and night-time restlessness may account for much of the stress, anxiety or depression an individual might be experiencing during the day. 90% of the Valerian studies reviewed have shown this herb to be effective in improving quality of sleep (QoS) and calming the central nervous system. more..
Kava Kava – Kava Kava is truly one of the strongest anxiolytic herbs in the world. A meta-analysis involving over 25 Kava Kava clinical studies shows Kava Kava to be more effective than placebo in relieving symptomatic anxiety. Kava also has one of the best safety profiles of any anti-anxiety /anti-depression herb. more..
5-HTP – This natural constituent’s mechanism of action acts directly on the serotonergic pathways and is a precursor to Serotonin (5HT). An analysis of 15 clinical studies since the 1970’s shows 5-HTP to be significantly effective in helping to relieve or treat many forms of depression. Over 55% of patients in these studies reported marked results when taking 5-HTP.more..
SAM-e – SAMe has been identified as another effective natural substance for helping to relieve depression related symptoms. Clinical studies show SAM-e to be up to 40% more effective in treating depression than placebo. more..
Minerals – Minerals such as magnesium, zinc and potassium all play an important role in overall feeling and mood. Researchers have found that many patients showing signs of emotional disturbances have lowered levels of mineral serum such as magnesium and zinc.
Vitamins – As we all know, vitamins are essential to almost every bodily process. Neurotransmitter synthesis and maintenance is no exception. The B-complex of vitamins play a key role in the break down and production of neurochemicals which results in the synthesis of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and GABA. .
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Programs
Cognitive Behavior Therapy isn’t new. You will find at least 100 different CBT programs on the market, from books and CD’s to online help sites.
Most CBT programs follow the same basic principles which are:
- Identify Automatic Thoughts
- Determine the Core Beliefs they are rooted in
- Find evidence to counteract current, negative core beliefs
- Find evidence to create adaptive coping techniques
- Utilize these new coping techniques whenever anxiety / stress present themselves in day-to-day life.
Using this methodology, CBT has been successful in helping millions of people to find long lasting, permanent results for the various forms of depression.
What prescription medications fail to address is the core, underlying thoughts and feelings that drive the depressive symptoms we are experiencing. Though chemical balancers like meds and alternatives can most definitely provide relief for symptoms of anxiety, treatment can not be achieved until we are able to create new, positive associative patterns within our own thoughts.
Cognitive behavior therapy has been clinically proven to be an effective, non drug-induced treatment program for relief of depression and anxiety. CBT has been recommended by doctors and is often practiced by psychiatrists and psychologists.
Prescription Drugs as Treatment for Depression
As you are pronbanly aware, millions of Americans take prescription drugs every day to help them find relief from the many different forms of depression. Prescription drugs give the perception that relieving depression is as easy as eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away.
What is usually not discussed with the general public is how prescription drugs work and whether or not they provide long-term relief safely. Recent FDA reports, warnings and independant press releases confirm what many of us have know deep down for some years now. Prescription drugs cause severe side effects, may be very addictive and may not be any more effective than placebo in relieving many types of depression or anxiety.
You can probably tell that I am no fan of prescription drug medications as legitimate treatment options for depression and make no effort to hide this fact.
Prescription medications, though effective in treating many symptoms of depression, also have many draw backs, some of which are mentioned above.
What bothers me the most about prescription medications, is that medical professionals, who simply don’t know enough about the real causes of emotional disturbances, prescribe drugs that they may know even less about. Many times, people have emailed their comments to tell me that not only do their doctors not know where a chemical imbalance comes from, they often don’t care to know.
Unlike cognitive behavior therapy, prescriptions do not address the underlying causes of chemical imbalance. The thoughts and feelings you experience are coming from somewhere. Past experiences, daily stresses and negative thought patterns cause depression. This disorder does not happen overnight, and therefore, it is safe to say it can’t be cured overnight.
Prescription Drugs can not change our thought patterns or the past associations that have been made in our brain.
If you are looking for short term, and even longer term relief of depression symptoms, and don’t mind the side effects, prescription drugs might be right for you. Spend some time reading the four pages of fine print at the prescription drug’s home page before you do. You will be surprised; that is if you can read the extremely small print.
But if you want real, permanent treatment, consider your other options.