How to manage depression without medication?
Is it even possible to manage depression without medication?
Short answer: YES.
If you are anything like me then you’ve wondered what to do when depression hits a lot. Depression is a soul-sucking monster and it really does take all the light out of everything.
I’ve struggled with depression since I was a teen and while I have gotten a lot better at managing it over the years, there are still moments when depression hits me harder.
I’m not sure if this is a good thing but I refuse to take medication. I don’t want to become dependent on any form of drugs – prescription or otherwise – to be able to function.
Disclaimer: if depression makes it difficult for you to function, I would recommend seeking professional help.
Over the years I’ve tried different management techniques and have come up with some that work for me. That is what I’d like to share with you today. 7 things I do to manage my depression without medication.
1. Avoid social media like the plague
Do you know how I know when a bout of depression is coming on? I find myself scrolling aimlessly on social media. This one is a bit tricky for me because as a blogger who is trying to build a community, I have to be on social media every day.
The thing is, using social media actually makes the state worse. It makes it last longer and makes it more intense. So when depression takes over, I try to avoid social media like the plague.
How to use social media when depressed
Avoid looking at other pages. If you must post content, share it and get off. Put your phone down and do not go to sleep with it near your bed.
I’ve even taken it a bit more extreme and uninstalled all social media apps from my phone when I’m going through depression. I know that if they’re there, I’ll use them. I am honest enough with myself to know that no matter how much self-control I think I have, I will use them.
The problem is that it makes me feel even worse and it keeps me in that state longer. One other thing I do is to ask my husband to take my phone away from me.
I’ve given him permission to just take it as soon as he notices my aimless scrolling. So if you have someone you trust that won’t abuse that privilege, you can try that as well. Whatever you do, avoid social media when you’re depressed.
2. Spend time alone when depressed
One of the things I did wrong over the years was to avoid my feelings by always being around people. I used to be afraid of being alone with my thoughts because they would be really difficult to deal with.
So if I could just be in conversation with someone all the time, then I would be able to successfully avoid depression and my feelings.
The wrong approach to depression
Ignoring your feelings is the wrong approach. This is why I recommend spending time alone when dealing with depression.
While it is not good to be alone for too long, you do need to spend some alone time each day as you are going through this darkness. It’s good for you to be alone with your thoughts so you can reflect on your feelings.
It is also good to be away from everyone so you don’t have to burden yourself with their feelings too. You can cry and let the feelings flow over you. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
I recently had a stint of depression. Well, it was probably a bit more than a stint because I was in the state for about two months. I didn’t tell my husband that’s what was happening because I thought I could just deal with it.
I was always surrounded by the kids and even thought that if I could just distract myself with their problems, then mine wouldn’t matter.
I was wrong. It kept getting worse and I kept getting more and more irritable. This is what you want to avoid because you don’t want to permanently ruin your relationships because you are going through a temporary state.
I was only able to sort through my feelings when I finally spent time alone. So make it a priority to spend alone time each day. Even if it’s only an hour. Be alone with your thoughts and feelings.
You’ve probably heard this one a million times and if you don’t like writing you probably hate hearing this piece of advice. However, journaling can help you to manage depression without medication and return to your normal state of being.
There is just something therapeutic about putting pen to paper.
There has been much-documented evidence of the benefits of how journaling positively affects your mental health in general. There have been many studies on the benefits of journaling for managing depression.
My approach to journaling is a little different though. I can’t for the love of me use one of those structured journals with specific journaling prompts. As great as they are. Those only make it worse for me.
The way I journal is to just write anything and everything that pops into my head. Sometimes it happens to be an article that I can use on my blog, other times it’s poetry, and other times it’s just random ramblings.
The point is to just write something. Anything. It helps to refocus all that built-up energy and emotion inside you.
I also am not rigid about what I use to journal either. You don’t have to use a book where you can track all your feelings. As mentioned before it can be extremely difficult to decipher exactly what you’re feeling while you’re grappling with this monster.
It would be great if you could track it but you don’t have to.
I have a bunch of books that I write in. Sometimes I write in the journaling apps and notes apps on my phone and other times I just open my laptop and start writing.
I’ve even used an audio journal. The audio recorder on your phone works fine for this or you can try this app if you like. The most important thing is to just get your feelings out instead of keeping them all bottled up inside. Journaling helps you to do that in a safe way.
4. Do the things you normally like doing
This one is going to be a little bit tricky because one of the symptoms of depression is apathy and lack of interest in the things you normally enjoy. I get that. Trust me. However, if you want to beat depression without medication, you have to become stronger than it.
One of the ways to do so is to still push yourself to do the things you normally enjoy. While it might be okay to hold off on some things, you have to find a way to drag yourself to go for that 6 a.m walk you normally enjoy.
You don’t have to force yourself to enjoy them, just do them in tandem with the other tips mentioned throughout this post.
The reason for this is because you don’t want to allow yourself to go down the rabbit hole of despair. If you like taking long hot baths, for example, that’s great. Take your bath without social media.
You’ll be spending time alone and allowing yourself time to reflect on your feelings as mentioned above.
Keep doing the things you normally enjoy doing to remind yourself that this is only a temporary state. You only need one good trigger to kick you right back into normalcy.
This is something I force myself to do every time depression hits because I refuse to be beaten by a temporary state of being.
The myriad of benefits of staying active is endless. Exercise is not only good for your physical health, but it’s also great for your mental health. Studies after studies have shown that exercise is a natural mood booster and a great way to fight depression and anxiety.
Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that whenever I feel depression coming on, if I don’t get moving, you can bet your ass off it’s gonna kick my ass.
I go for long walks or go jogging. If possible, I’ll play a sport like tennis or badminton because being able to release all that aggressive, negative energy is just soothing.
I could just be because I like screaming and hitting stuff…haha! Show of hands if you do too 🙋🏽♀️. Being serious though.
Exercise and staying active have so many amazing benefits and I know you don’t feel like moving because low energy levels are one side effect of depression.
So it’s quite the paradox. But if you can convince yourself to move, really move, you’ll feel much better.
Read more about exercise and depression here.
6. Talk to someone
My last tip for managing depression without medication is to talk to someone. Talking to someone you trust can help you to sort through your feelings and make sense of the emotions you have swirling around in your head.
It helps you to not bottle it all up and it also reminds you that you are not alone. Depression is very lonely so if you can have someone that you trust to hold your hand and just be there for you, it makes the world of a difference.
Find a family member or friend that you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with. It is also perfectly acceptable to reach out to a professional for help. Talk to a pastor, a member of your church, or a therapist if you can.
Just be clear with the person that you are only looking for a listening ear. Oftentimes people are sympathetic when all you really need is empathy. It can be annoying. At least I know it is for me.
My husband tries to show sympathy when I’m dealing with depression and it always gets on my nerves. I know he means well and I know he’s coming from a good place but at that moment I only want you to be empathetic and just listen.
The moment I start feeling your sympathy, it puts me off and I no longer want to share with you.
What I do is to just say it: “babe, I’m not asking you to fix anything. Don’t try to give me any solutions. I just need you to listen and be there for me.” This leads to my next point.
7. Be open and honest about your feelings.
Read 11 Things People Struggling With Depression Want You To Know and be sure to share it with your loved ones as well. You never know when it might come in handy.
If you are going through depression, no one else knows what you are feeling. In an ideal world, we’d like people to be emotionally intelligent enough to realize that we are dealing with some demons and just let us be. But in reality, everyone is dealing with some sh*t.
If someone is trying to vent to you and you don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with it, politely say to them “I can’t deal with this right now, I’m going through some sh*t of my own”.
If your coworkers or your boss is pushing you to meet certain expectations, it’s always best to communicate that you are struggling with something.
Of course, you are not entitled to special treatment but it helps when you let people know that you are battling a chronic illness. Don’t use depression as a crutch or excuse to deliver mediocre work or to skimp out of work, but be open and honest about your feelings.
The same applies to your relationships – platonic or otherwise. If these are relationships you wish to maintain after you’re done drowning in sorrow, you will have to communicate your feelings.
You might be surprised just how much the people who genuinely care about you are willing to support you. This might be exactly what you need.
So while depression makes you irritable and you just don’t wanna be bothered with anything or anyone, it helps to communicate as best as you possibly can.
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Depression is a real thing. Many people struggle with chronic depression and many people have never been clinically diagnosed. If you are struggling with depression, you are not alone. Reach out to someone or get professional help if you can.
Share your story and other tips in the comments section. Let’s help to build each other up. You can also join my Facebook Group for women empowering other women and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more motivation.
‘Till next time…