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Can I Get Over Depression Without Taking Medication?

I've been depressed for a while. It has affected my schoolwork and social life a lot. How can I get over being depressed without taking antidepressants?
- Sara*

Not everyone who's depressed needs to take antidepressant medications. There are many other things that can help. Finding out what's best for you starts with an evaluation by your doctor or qualified therapist.

Talk therapy (a very common treatment for depression) helps people give words to sad feelings, talk about their situation, and feel understood. Therapy also helps people learn how to turn thoughts in a more positive direction and come up with ways to work out problems.

Don't underestimate the power of seemingly simple actions to help put your mood back in balance. Get outside. Take a walk. Play a sport you enjoy. Choose nutritious foods and resist junk foods. Get a full night's sleep. People who are depressed may not feel much like being active. But make yourself do it anyway (ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated).

For people who experience seasonal wintertime depression, getting enough daylight is important. This can be done by getting outdoors every day or by using a special type of light box.

It's common for depression to have an impact on social life because it can make a person feel withdrawn and subdued. Try to spend time with a good friend doing something you both enjoy or just hanging out. Open up to someone you feel close to — a friend or parent. Let someone know what's going on with you. Don't dwell on troubles — share the good parts of your day, too. It's the sharing that matters. Feeling connected to others helps relieve depression.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Depression affects a person's thoughts, making everything seem dismal, negative, and hopeless. Don't let this translate into down-on-yourself thinking. Try to remember your strengths, gifts, and blessings.

Some people do need medication to get over depression. But it is rarely used alone as a treatment — especially in young people. How will you know what is best for you? See your doctor or therapist for an evaluation and a treatment plan that's right for you.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: March 2012

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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