50 natural ways to help treat depression without taking antidepressants

Healthy eating habits are important for happiness Imagine if you often drove your car with very little engine oil. This one thing could have a huge negative impact on the car’s performance. When it comes to having happy minds, our bodies are similar. Just one thing out of balance can have a huge negative impact on our mental health — whether it’s a lack of vitamin D, omega-3 fat or sunlight, too much junk food and so on.

Finding that balance can be difficult, but there are many things that can help us gain inner peace and happiness. A holistic approach is important — one that addresses the body, mind and spirit.

Below are 50 natural alternatives to antidepressants that can help bring the body into balance, reduce symptoms of depression and boost happiness.

  1. Exercise. Studies have found that physical activity can be as good as, or better than, antidepressants for treating depression.
  2. Have healthy eating habits. Foods greatly affect our mood. A happy mind needs a healthy diet high in fiber, fruit and veg, and low in sugar, junk food, processed foods, artificial foods, and trans fats.
  3. Omega-3 fat. Dr. Joseph Mercola says omega-3 fat “may be the single most important nutrient to battle depression.” So get your krill fill or your fish fix!
  4. Bump up your vitamin and/or mineral intake, if you’re low. Being low in just one vitamin or mineral can, at times, cause symptoms of depression. Important brain nutrients include vitamins B, C, D and E, and the minerals magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium.
  5. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). This helps people change their negative thinking and behavior patterns so that they feel happier.
  6. Think positively. Look at the positive aspects of a situation. Be an optimist. Think of tough times as learning opportunities that strengthen us.
  7. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). Beyondblue says IPT is a psychological therapy that focuses on problems in relationships, and on building skills to deal with these problems. Studies show that IPT works for a large range of people.
  8. Probiotics. Beneficial gut bugs (“good” bacteria and yeasts) can boost health and happiness.
  9. Herbs. Helpful herbs for depression include St John’s wort, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, vervain, rosemary, passion flower, scullcap and chamomile. Talk to a relevant health professional to see which herbs are best for you.
  10. Chinese Medicine.
  11. Ayurvedic Medicine. This is a type of traditional medicine native to India.
  12. Avoid foods and food additives that upset you. Talk to a nutritionist or dietitian, or do your own research on the topic, if you’re unsure.
  13. Avoid gluten, if you’re sensitive to this protein. Gluten is naturally found in some grains. Professor Rodney Ford is a world authority on gluten. He believes that about one in ten people have gluten-sensitivity. He says this can cause depression, anxiety and many other health problems.
  14. Amino acid supplements. D-phenylalanine, L-glutamine and tyrosine are a few amino acids that can help treat depression. Dr. Sandra Cabot advises that: “Amino acids should be supervised by your doctor.”
  15. SAMe. Studies have found that SAMe can reduce depressive symptoms quicker than antidepressants, and with fewer side effects.
  16. 5-HTP. This is a naturally occurring chemical in the body. When taken as a supplement, 5-HTP can raise serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, so boost mood.
  17. Phosphatidylserine. Steven Bratman M.D. says says this food supplement “can improve depressive symptoms, at least in senior citizens.”
  18. Get enough sleep. A happy mind needs enough good quality sleep.
  19. Meditate. Studies have found that when combined with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), meditation is better than CBT alone for preventing depression. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) cuts relapse rates in half for recurrent depression.
  20. EMDR. Short for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, this therapy is based around easy eye exercises that help treat depression, trauma and more.
  21. Hypnotherapy. Hypnosis sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist can help treat depression.
  22. Light therapy. This works well for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it might also reduce the symptoms of other types of depression.
  23. Control stress. Too much stress can, in time, cause anxiety, fatigue, burnout, symptoms of depression and more.
  24. Make time to relax. Just a few 10 to 15 minute breaks throughout the day might be all you need to re-energize.
  25. Make time to do things you enjoy. Fun times help counteract feeling down.
  26. Laugh often. Laughter releases chemicals that make us happy, helps reduce high blood pressure and more. Make time to laugh. Read funny jokes, watch comedies and so on.
  27. Get enough sunlight. Healthy vitamin D levels are vital to help prevent and treat depression. Find a balance between not getting enough sunlight, and getting too much sunlight, so increasing the chance of getting skin cancer.
  28. Get enough fresh air.
  29. Avoid loneliness. People are social beings. Spend regular time with people we like and enjoy being with.
  30. Avoid energy vampires, and mix with positive people. The people we associate with affect our mood, so spend time with people who boost our spirits.
  31. Spend time in uplifting surroundings.
  32. Spend time in nature. A recent study of about 1,250 people found just five minutes of exercise in a green nature setting can improve mental health.
  33. Help those in need. Helping others can get our mind off our troubles, give us a sense of purpose, and make us feel wanted and needed, which are all good for enhancing happiness.
  34. Massage. Massages can soothe, energize and enliven the body. The sense of touch releases hormones that boost mood.
  35. Acupressure and/or acupuncture. Find a practitioner who knows how to use these therapies to help treat depression.
  36. Uplifting music.
  37. Aromatherapy. The lovely smells of orange, lavender, chamomile, rose, jasmine and other mood-boosting essential oils can lift our spirits.
  38. Self-help books. BBC News Health says patients offered self-help books, plus sessions on how to use them, had lower levels of depression one year later than those offered usual GP care.
  39. Drink little or no alcohol. Michael Castleman says alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that can worsen depression, especially in men.
  40. Beware of coffee and other caffeine containing drinks. These can give you a short burst of energy, or high feeling, but bring you down quickly.
  41. Seek spirituality. Duke University researchers found that the greater people’s “intrinsic religiosity”, the faster they recovered from depression. “Intrinsic religiosity” means feelings of a spiritual connection to the Universe beyond yourself, whether or not you belong to any particular religion.
  42. Reflexology. Foot massages help boost happiness and wellbeing.
  43. Reiki. This hands on healing alternative therapy calms the mind, body and soul.
  44. Good posture. Our posture affects our mood. Adjust your posture so that you sit and stand upright and confident.
  45. Small amounts of dark chocolate. Eating up to about 28 grams (one ounce) of good quality dark chocolate each day can boost mood. But beware, more than this can be bad for your health.
  46. Own a pet or two…. Obviously don’t choose a pet that stresses you out. Have one that makes you happy and suits your lifestyle.
  47. Indoor plants. House plants have many benefits, such as improving air quality and boosting mood.
  48. Get rid of clutter in your home and workplace. Clutter is a negative energy that can contribute to feeling sad, tired, frustrated, confused, disorganized and unmotivated.
  49. Forgive others. Let go of bitterness, past hurts and grudges to enhance inner peace and happiness.
  50. Express gratitude. Regularly appreciate what is going well in our lives, and the things we are grateful for. Studies show that making a gratitude list, and reading it daily, makes people feel happier.

written by Nyomi Graef

Beckham, N, 1992, The Family Library Guide to Natural Therapies, Victoria, Australia: Greenhouse Publications

Bratman, S, 1998, The Alternative Medicine Ratings Guide: An Expert Panel Rates the Best Treatments for Over 80 Conditions, Rocklin, USA: Prima Health

Cabot, S, 1995, Dr Sandra Cabot’s “Handbag” Health Guide, Werombi, Australia: Women’s Health Advisory Service

Castleman, M, 2000, Blended Medicine: The Best Choices in Healing, USA: Rodale

Endacott, M (Ed.), 1996, The Encyclopedia of Complementary Medicine, Italy: Carlton Books

Ford, R, 2006, Gluten Causes Brain Disease!, Celiac.com,

In the Green of Health: Just 5 Minutes of ‘Green Exercise’ Optimal for Good Mental Health, 2010, Science Daily,

Jacka, J, 1995, A-Z of Natural Therapies, Melbourne, Australia: Lothian Books

Jorm, AF, et al., 2009, A Guide to What Works for Depression, Melbourne, Australia: beyondblue

Meditation must be available on the NHS, says Mental Health Foundation, 2010, Mental Health Foundation,

Mercola, J, 2012, The Root Cause of Anxiety and Depression That Few Suspect, Mercola.com,

Mercola, J, 2009, 10 Antidepressant Alternatives Proven to Work, Mercola.com,

McKenzie, J, n.d., Fish Oil Helps Treat Depression, ABC News,

Pelletier, KR, 2000, The Best Alternative Medicine: What Works? What Does Not?, New York, USA: Simon & Schuster

Self-help books ‘treat depression’, 2013, BBC News, Health,

Seligson, S, 2010, Exercise: the Other Antidepressant, BU Today,

Somerville, R (Ed.), 1997, The Alternative Advisor: The Complete Guide to Natural Therapies and Alternative Treatments, Virginia, USA: Time-Life

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10 Responses to “50 natural ways to help treat depression without taking antidepressants”

  1. Wow! Trere is a lot of information I get from this article and know thenatural way to improve Axiety.

  2. Nyomi says:

    Hi Mamunr,

    Thanks for your kind comment.

    All the best with your website.

    Kind regards,

  3. Hi thanks for reply. I have changed my sites adress.Plz have a look at my sites and give your comment.

  4. Nyomi says:

    Hi Mamunr,

    Thanks for your comments.

    All the best for your website. I had a look at it. I particularly like the tagline “Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured”, and your topics.

    Anxiety is a very worthwhile health problem to help people overcome — so many people suffer from it. Consider also writing about anxiety for anxiety websites/other relevant organizations, when you’re ready, if you haven’t already considered this option. You could gain extra income while writing about anxiety (and other topics that interest you) and helping people improve their health.

    Best wishes for you and your website,


  5. Hi Nyomi,

    Sorry for late reply and thanks for your valuable advice.Do you have more sites? If yes plz give me the urls.


  6. Nyomi says:

    Hi Mamunr,

    Currently Extra Happiness is my only website.

    Thanks for commenting.

    All the best,


  7. Nice and very informative. Laughing is one of the best remedy to reduce anxiety.

  8. gounder Coimbatore says:

    Very useful even if one practices one or two points he will benefit

  9. Nyomi says:

    Hi Gounder,

    Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you found the blog post useful.

    Best wishes,

  10. Wao… It just wao…
    also read my article on myths and facts about depression!


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