coping

Alternate Treatment Options for Depression

Despite having many physical similarities which make us human, we are actually all as unique as finger-prints. We see this in so many of our differences in our tastes, our likes and our dislikes. We also see this is variations in responses to treatments.

There's no such thing as a 'cookie-cutter' approach to treating depression. In much the same way as people experience their own unique cluster of symptoms of depression, with no two people being exactly the same, nor do treatments work in the same way for everyone.

We've discussed a number for medical and psychological interventions in our previous articles, but today we'd like to explore some strategies a little more out of the box.

If you are yet to find your successful combination of coping tools to manage your depressive symptoms, have a look at this condensed list of other treatment options for depression. Alternatively, follow this link to the Beyond Blue resource "A Guide to What Works for Depression."

Animal Assisted Therapy:

What they say:

The focus of this kind of therapy is on the interactions between the client and the animal. It's thought to work on both a physiological and a psychological level. The risks associated with this therapy are low and there is growing scientific support for it.

Our Thoughts:

Incidental mindfulness directed at time spent with a pet has reportedly beneficial for numerous clients. Patting the animal, watching the animal, observing and responding to the animal, talking to the animal and playing with them are all excellent strategies for bring our attention into the moment. Pets also bring a lot of joy and a sense of connectedness and meaning into a person's life and can be a significant part of alleviating symptoms of depression.

Art Therapy:

What They Say:

Expression of feelings is encouraged through art with a qualified art therapist in order to heal past traumas and improve coping and relationships. There are no known risks associated with it and scientific research is in its early days in terms of proving it is a valid treatment option for depression.

Our Thoughts:

We love art therapy and have used art in session with cancer patients, teenagers, elderly clients and with anyone who has a natural inclination to express themselves in a variety of art mediums. We refer to South West Art Therapy when we need a specialist approach to treat serious mental health issues. Our clients love to express themselves in many different ways and often report a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and purpose in their work.

Dance and Movement Therapy:

What They Say:

Dance or Movement therapy involves a period of movement expression followed by discussion with the therapist afterward regarding the experience and how it relates to current issues. It's based on the theory of the Body and Mind connection - that how we move influences how we think and feel and visa versa. There are no known risks involved and there is growing support for it as a treatment for depression.

Our Thoughts:

As an ex-Pilates instructor who worked in a movement therapy studio, I have witnessed the power of the mind-body connection and have also seen the incredible results movement therapy can have for people with a variety of mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and major depression.

Hypnosis:

What They Say:

A therapist assists a client to get into an hypnotic state in order to experience vivid mental imagery. It's usually used in conjunction with other types of treatment in order to help clients make important changes in their lives. There are several studies which support hypnosis as a treatment for depression particularly when combined with cognitive behavioural therapy. More research is required though. There are no major risks associated with this therapy as long as it's conducted by a trained professional.

Our Thoughts:

This is not my area of expertise however, I have had several clients attend a clinical hypnotherapist for lifestyle behaviour changes such as over-eating or cigarette smoking with great success. Considering such behaviours can perpetuate the depression cycle, altering them may be beneficial, although it's important to replace maladaptive coping strategies with healthier ones.

Music Therapy:

What They Say:

Music therapy could involve, playing, creating or listening to music. Music has been shown to directly cause emotional and physiological changes in a person when listening to it and adding another activity such as writing, drawing or meditating. There is little to no scientific support for it as an effective treatment for depression as yet.

Our Thoughts:

Whenever I ask anyone about what helps them, music is most usually at the top of the list. Even if only anecdotally, music seems to be a healthy way to express our thoughts and emotions, although I do steer people away from sad songs when they are sad and are actively trying to lift their mood.

Acupuncture:

What They Say:

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes acupuncture (inserting fine needles into points in the body) corrects the flow of energy in the body. Western medicine believes it may stimulate nerves which results in the release of serotonin and norepinephrine both involved in depression. Eight studies have shown that acupuncture works for depression. Acupuncture comes with minor risks of bleeding and bruising.

Our Thoughts:

I have actively engaged in acupuncture for the treatment of many things as well as for general wellbeing for the past seven years. I have sent many clients for acupuncture to assist with anxiety and depression with mixed results mainly due to different social circumstances which may or may not have been able to be changed at the time, making the acupuncture less likely to be successful at that time.

Chocolate:

What They Say:

A lot of people (including me!) crave chocolate when their mood or energy levels are low. Chocolate contains several compounds which may be antidepressant in nature, including: caffeine, theobromine, tyramine and phenylethylamine although they aren't present in high enough doses to actually be effective. There isn't any evidence that supports the theory that chocolate helps with depression, although it's likely any mood lifting properties come from its pleasant taste and texture. Because it's high in fat and sugar, it is a health risk!

Our Thoughts:

Any effect on mood is likely to be psychological because it is so pleasant to eat, although eating chocolate is usually followed by guilt which then seems to drive the depressive symptoms even more, so it's probably not the best solution when we're feeling down!

Internet Interventions:

What They Say:

Computer programmes, websites and APPS are becoming more and more prevalent and convenient for people to access in order to work on improving their mental health. When they are delivered by a professional and suit a computer environment, they've been proven to be successful. There are no known risks associated, but need to be delivered by qualified professionals. Some examples are: http://moodgym.anu.edu.au and www.livinglifetothefull.com and http://bluepages.anu.edu.au

Our Thoughts:

My initial thought is that you are never going to replace the value of human connection with a computer screen in terms of therapeutic impact. However, in terms of sharing information and participating in structured skill building, computer programmes may be very valuable. There are several APPS and websites I refer people to, not necessarily for depression, but to aid in mindfulness practice for example.

Humour Therapy:

What They Say:

Laughter has similar effects to vigorous exercise e.g. reducing stress hormone levels, relieving tension, releasing endorphins etc. Humour is also able to shift thinking in a helpful way. Group humour therapy has more support than on an individual basis and it is definitely a low-risk treatment.

Our Thoughts:

Humour is one of our favourite coping tools every. I've participated in laughter yoga and am a subscriber to the belief that if we mimic a smile or force laughter, then our brain soon catches up. Give it a try! If nothing else, you'll end up laughing at how ridiculous you seem doing a Donald Duck laugh or an Errol Flynn one! I'm also happy to say that in most of my sessions with clients, no matter how dim their situation is, we usually find space to have a little laugh at every session. Where there's laughter, there's hope.

Hydrotherapy:

What They Say:

Hydrotherapy involves water and can be used for relaxation or stimulation. There's no scientific support for hydrotherapy as a treatment for depression as yet.

Our Thoughts:

Our evidence is anecdotal but comes from a large number of our chronic pain patients who have 3 x weekly hydrotherapy sessions and report improvements in both pain and mood levels as a result. Patients love the pool because it's often one of the only places they find relief to their physical ailments which also provides mental relief as well.

Light Therapy:

What They Say:

Light Therapy is exposure of the eyes to bright light for a suitable duration. It was originally used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is a lot of evidence for this therapy in the treatment of SAD, however not for depressions that are not impacted on by the seasons. Light Therapy is safe but it can come with some side effects such as headache or eye irritation. It is apparently helpful for depression when used in conjunction with antidepressant medication.

Our Thoughts:

I haven't had any experience with Light Therapy however it does remind me of how much I loved the television show Northern Exposure!

Massage:

What They Say:

Massage is a manual soft-tissue therapy that is thought to reduce stress hormone levels and the body's arousal state. There is some scientific research that supports massage as a treatment for depression and there are no known risks involved.

Our Thoughts:

It makes sense to me as a past myotherapist that human touch and connection alone could be beneficial in the treatment of some people with depression. As well as that, its relaxation properties and overall improvements in general wellbeing would likely contribute to improved mood and therefore be helpful in the treatment of depression.

Pleasant Activities:

What They Say:

Noticing a reduction in pleasure and interest in usual activities is a key symptom of depression. Increasing the engagement in pleasant activities counters the urge to withdraw from living as well as improving mood. There is scientific support of increasing pleasant activity engagement for people with depression and there are no known risks.

Our Thoughts:

We are big fans of Activity Scheduling and increasing engagement in pleasant activities. Follow these links to get some ideas for some more pleasant things you could be doing. Pleasant Activities List  Strike a Balance 

Yoga:

What They Say:

Yoga is an ancient part of Indian culture. It exercises the body and mind using physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation. It's got some promising support as a treatment for depression and to minimise risk of injury, make sure you choose to work with a qualified instructor.

Our Thoughts:

I am a massive fan of yoga and practice it regularly in my own life for general health and wellbeing. Many clients use regular yoga practice to improve their mood and overall levels of wellbeing.

We hope you've enjoyed reading about a wider variety of potential treatments for depression. Remember you can always let us know how we're going via Survey Monkey  or drop us an email or a message via Facebook. We look forward to bringing you a few more articles in our Depression series including one on medication and another on dancing. Stay well and look after one another. x

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Despite having many physical similarities which make us human, we are actually all as unique as finger-prints. We see this in so many of our differences in our tastes, our likes and our dislikes. We also see this is variations in responses to treatments.

There's no such thing as a 'cookie-cutter' approach to treating depression. In much the same way as people experience their own unique cluster of symptoms of depression, with no two people being exactly the same, nor do treatments work in the same way for everyone.

We've discussed a number for medical and psychological interventions in our previous articles, but today we'd like to explore some strategies a little more out of the box.

If you are yet to find your successful combination of coping tools to manage your depressive symptoms, have a look at this condensed list of other treatment options for depression. Alternatively, follow this link to the Beyond Blue resource "A Guide to What Works for Depression."

Animal Assisted Therapy:

What they say:

The focus of this kind of therapy is on the interactions between the client and the animal. It's thought to work on both a physiological and a psychological level. The risks associated with this therapy are low and there is growing scientific support for it.

Our Thoughts:

Incidental mindfulness directed at time spent with a pet has reportedly beneficial for numerous clients. Patting the animal, watching the animal, observing and responding to the animal, talking to the animal and playing with them are all excellent strategies for bring our attention into the moment. Pets also bring a lot of joy and a sense of connectedness and meaning into a person's life and can be a significant part of alleviating symptoms of depression.

Art Therapy:

What They Say:

Expression of feelings is encouraged through art with a qualified art therapist in order to heal past traumas and improve coping and relationships. There are no known risks associated with it and scientific research is in its early days in terms of proving it is a valid treatment option for depression.

Our Thoughts:

We love art therapy and have used art in session with cancer patients, teenagers, elderly clients and with anyone who has a natural inclination to express themselves in a variety of art mediums. We refer to South West Art Therapy when we need a specialist approach to treat serious mental health issues. Our clients love to express themselves in many different ways and often report a sense of satisfaction, accomplishment and purpose in their work.

Dance and Movement Therapy:

What They Say:

Dance or Movement therapy involves a period of movement expression followed by discussion with the therapist afterward regarding the experience and how it relates to current issues. It's based on the theory of the Body and Mind connection - that how we move influences how we think and feel and visa versa. There are no known risks involved and there is growing support for it as a treatment for depression.

Our Thoughts:

As an ex-Pilates instructor who worked in a movement therapy studio, I have witnessed the power of the mind-body connection and have also seen the incredible results movement therapy can have for people with a variety of mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and major depression.

Hypnosis:

What They Say:

A therapist assists a client to get into an hypnotic state in order to experience vivid mental imagery. It's usually used in conjunction with other types of treatment in order to help clients make important changes in their lives. There are several studies which support hypnosis as a treatment for depression particularly when combined with cognitive behavioural therapy. More research is required though. There are no major risks associated with this therapy as long as it's conducted by a trained professional.

Our Thoughts:

This is not my area of expertise however, I have had several clients attend a clinical hypnotherapist for lifestyle behaviour changes such as over-eating or cigarette smoking with great success. Considering such behaviours can perpetuate the depression cycle, altering them may be beneficial, although it's important to replace maladaptive coping strategies with healthier ones.

Music Therapy:

What They Say:

Music therapy could involve, playing, creating or listening to music. Music has been shown to directly cause emotional and physiological changes in a person when listening to it and adding another activity such as writing, drawing or meditating. There is little to no scientific support for it as an effective treatment for depression as yet.

Our Thoughts:

Whenever I ask anyone about what helps them, music is most usually at the top of the list. Even if only anecdotally, music seems to be a healthy way to express our thoughts and emotions, although I do steer people away from sad songs when they are sad and are actively trying to lift their mood.

Acupuncture:

*********

Aromatherapy:

What They Say:

Traditional Chinese Medicine believes acupuncture (inserting fine needles into points in the body) corrects the flow of energy in the body. Western medicine believes it may stimulate nerves which results in the release of serotonin and norepinephrine both involved in depression. Eight studies have shown that acupuncture works for depression. Acupuncture comes with minor risks of bleeding and bruising.

Our Thoughts:

I have actively engaged in acupuncture for the treatment of many things as well as for general wellbeing for the past seven years. I have sent many clients for acupuncture to assist with anxiety and depression with mixed results mainly due to different social circumstances which may or may not have been able to be changed at the time, making the acupuncture less likely to be successful at that time.

Chocolate:

What They Say:

A lot of people (including me!) crave chocolate when their mood or energy levels are low. Chocolate contains several compounds which may be antidepressant in nature, including: caffeine, theobromine, tyramine and phenylethylamine although they aren't present in high enough doses to actually be effective. There isn't any evidence that supports the theory that chocolate helps with depression, although it's likely any mood lifting properties come from its pleasant taste and texture. Because it's high in fat and sugar, it is a health risk!

Our Thoughts:

Any effect on mood is likely to be psychological because it is so pleasant to eat, although eating chocolate is usually followed by guilt which then seems to drive the depressive symptoms even more, so it's probably not the best solution when we're feeling down!

Internet Interventions:

What They Say:

Computer programmes, websites and APPS are becoming more and more prevalent and convenient for people to access in order to work on improving their mental health. When they are delivered by a professional and suit a computer environment, they've been proven to be successful. There are no known risks associated, but need to be delivered by qualified professionals. Some examples are: http://moodgym.anu.edu.au and www.livinglifetothefull.com and http://bluepages.any.edu.au

Our Thoughts:

My initial thought is that you are never going to replace the value of human connection with a computer screen in terms of therapeutic impact. However, in terms of sharing information and participating in structured skill building, computer programmes may be very valuable. There are several APPS and websites I refer people to, not necessarily for depression, but to aid in mindfulness practice for example.

Humour Therapy:

What They Say:

Laughter has similar effects to vigorous exercise e.g. reducing stress hormone levels, relieving tension, releasing endorphins etc. Humour is also able to shift thinking in a helpful way. Group humour therapy has more support than on an individual basis and it is definitely a low-risk treatment.

Our Thoughts:

Humour is one of our favourite coping tools every. I've participated in laughter yoga and am a subscriber to the belief that if we mimic a smile or force laughter, then our brain soon catches up. Give it a try! If nothing else, you'll end up laughing at how ridiculous you seem doing a Donald Duck laugh or an Errol Flynn one! I'm also happy to say that in most of my sessions with clients, no matter how dim their situation is, we usually find space to have a little laugh at every session. Where there's laughter, there's hope.

Hydrotherapy:

What They Say:

Hydrotherapy involves water and can be used for relaxation or stimulation. There's no scientific support for hydrotherapy as a treatment for depression as yet.

Our Thoughts:

Our evidence is anecdotal but comes from a large number of our chronic pain patients who have 3 x weekly hydrotherapy sessions and report improvements in both pain and mood levels as a result. Patients love the pool because it's often one of the only places they find relief to their physical ailments which also provides mental relief as well.

Light Therapy:

What They Say:

Light Therapy is exposure of the eyes to bright light for a suitable duration. It was originally used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. There is a lot of evidence for this therapy in the treatment of SAD, however not for depressions that are not impacted on by the seasons. Light Therapy is safe but it can come with some side effects such as headache or eye irritation. It is apparently helpful for depression when used in conjunction with antidepressant medication.

Our Thoughts:

I haven't had any experience with Light Therapy however it does remind me of how much I loved the television show Northern Exposure!

Massage:

What They Say:

Massage is a manual soft-tissue therapy that is thought to reduce stress hormone levels and the body's arousal state. There is some scientific research that supports massage as a treatment for depression and there are no known risks involved.

Our Thoughts:

It makes sense to me as a past myotherapist that human touch and connection alone could be beneficial in the treatment of some people with depression. As well as that, its relaxation properties and overall improvements in general wellbeing would likely contribute to improved mood and therefore be helpful in the treatment of depression.

Pleasant Activities:

Noticing a reduction in pleasure and interest in usual activities is a key symptom of depression. Increasing the engagement in pleasant activities counters the urge to withdraw from living as well as improving mood. There is scientific support of increasing pleasant activity engagement for people with depression and there are no known risks.

Our Thoughts:

We are big fans of Activity Scheduling and increasing engagement in pleasant activities. Follow these links to get some ideas for some more pleasant things you could be doing. ****PAL**** Strike a Balance article ******

Yoga:

What They Say:

Yoga is an ancient part of Indian culture. It exercises the body and mind using physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation. It's got some promising support as a treatment for depression and to minimise risk of injury, make sure you choose to work with a qualified instructor.

Our Thoughts:

I am a massive fan of yoga and practice it regularly in my own life for general health and wellbeing. Many clients use regular yoga practice to improve their mood and overall levels of wellbeing.

We hope you've enjoyed reading about a wider variety of potential treatments for depression. Remember you can always let us know how we're going via Survey Monkey ******* or drop us an email or a message via Facebook ****. We look forward to bringing you a few more articles in our Depression series including one on medication and another on dancing. Stay well and look after one another. x

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