Spokane Naturopathic Medicine | Doctor Lindsay Donahue
January 20th, 2018
It’s time to reach your health potential.

Alternative Treatments for Depression

Depression Alternate Treatments

For some people with depression, alternative treatments may be a more attractive option than SSRIs, MAOIs, and other neuropharmaceuticals. They may also work very well as a supplement to depression medication.

Nondrug depression treatments are known to be effective in either role, either as supplication for or supplement to traditional depression therapies, including both prescription drugs and psychotherapy.

If you’re looking for either a treatment regimen that prevents the need for drugs or for supplements to a traditional regimen that manages your depression, here are some alternative treatments for depression that many patients have found to work wonders.


Meditation as a depression alternate treatment has a long track record of success, as well as with other mental ailments such as anxiety, and a number of studies have confirmed its benefits for mental health. Best of all, meditation is free – no need to hit a store of any kind; you merely need a bit of solitude and a comfortable space.

Various meditation techniques for depression have been shown to be effective, including behavioral cognitive therapy, transcendental meditation, and yoga, which incorporates moderate exercise as well.


Another very effective treatment for depression, or supplement to traditional therapies, is exercise. The benefits of a regular exercise regimen have been known for decades and reach far beyond treatment for depression.

Almost any exercise releases endorphins, which help combat depression. Weight training has been shown to be especially beneficial. While this may mean getting a gym membership, there are ways to train without having to do so. Bodyweight exercises – such as pushups, situps, burpees, and pull-ups – can be done in the home with little equipment, and kettlebells – a type of weight resembling a cannonball with a handle – can give you a fantastic workout with only one weight of as little as 20 pounds!

Other forms of exercise, such as walking, running or cycling, are also very beneficial in this regard. You’ll feel better, and you may end up looking better in the bargain.

Diet and Nutrition

We are what we eat, and altering your diet and nutritional intake can also be a fantastic alternative therapy for depression. Some foods that can have a beneficial impact include healthy sources of fats such as coconut oil or olive oil, avocados or butter, fish with high levels of Omega-3 oils like wild salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel, and a healthy protein intake have all been shown to have beneficial effects.

Additionally, changing coffee for green tea can be beneficial as well, as green tea contains theanine, a mood booster that’s found in many nootropic supplements. Caffeine has been shown to reduce serotonin levels, so don’t try to stimulate your way out of the slump; it may make it worse.

Many people also find serious lifts in their overall mood when reducing carbohydrate intake, as well as other health benefits including weight loss. Plenty of other foods are known to worsen depression, so look into changing your diet. Take a look at clinical nutrition programs that we offer and please get in touch if you have any questions. 

Natural Supplements

Consult with your physician before doing so, but there are a number of supplements that are beneficial as supplements to traditional therapies or as a depression alternate treatments.

For instance, supplements such as 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, SAMe, Omega-3 Fish Oil, L-Tyrosine, and Theanine – it is available in supplement form as well as in tea! – are all known to be mood boosters.

However, these supplements can have impacts with medications, such as St. John’s Wort, so make sure that you consult with your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen.


Beyond the other health benefits of acupuncture, it is also known to be a beneficial therapy in treating depression. Depending on your symptoms, it may work as an alternative depression therapy, part of an alternative regimen or as a supplement to an existing one.

Acupuncture works by directing flows of bioelectric energy, restoring flow to areas that may be blocked or rerouting energy so that the whole system may be brought back into balance.

It has been a viable treatment in other cultures for thousands of years, so try it out our Spokane acupuncture treatment today. 

Support Groups

Early sociologists such as Max Weber and Emile Durkheim hypothesized that many of society’s ills were connected to increasing alienation between individuals. The more people felt they weren’t part of a community, the more problems it caused such as crime, suicide, and other issues. That feeling of community, like there are others with the same problems, is beneficial and that includes people with mental illness such as depression.

Many people have found support groups to be helpful, both in finding people that have the same issues and learning how better to cope but also finding the support of others in trying to get better.

Light Therapy

Our brains are designed to work in accordance with sunlight. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is linked to our optic sensors, meaning that our sleep cycles – and much else besides – is tied to our intake of light.

So are our moods.

Depression is more common in areas that have shorter days or less overall sunlight, such as northerly areas or areas with very high amounts of precipitation. People who work at night likewise are susceptible. Lightbox therapy was devised in exactly those settings, and have shown a great deal of efficacy.

Lightboxes place a light source close to the patient, with a source of light mimicking natural light. Light therapy gives people afflicted with seasonally affected depression (or SAD) a source of light that is shown to curb their depressive disorder. It’s a proven therapy, with years of effective use in Scandinavian countries, which have some of the world’s highest suicide rates despite routinely ranking among the happiest peoples on earth.

While it may not be a suitable depression alternate treatment, it can be a useful supplement to depression therapy and certainly for people whose mood disorders are exacerbated when the days turn gray.