3 Drug-Free Ways to Manage Depression and Its Symptoms

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Depression is a common mental illness that affects 3.8 percent of the global population. According to the World Health Organization, it is also one of the most prevalent causes of disability and a well-known cause of suicide.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Irritability
  • Sadness that doesn’t go away
  • Excessive feelings of guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Low energy
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Appetite or weight changes

The good news is that depression is treatable. Whether it’s mild, moderate, or severe, the mental health condition can be managed and even overcome with the right kind of treatment.

In this article, you’ll learn about the three types of depression treatment in Dubai that don’t require medication, as well as other ways you can cope with some of its symptoms.

  1. Neurofeedback Therapy

Though it may sound new, neurofeedback training – a kind of biofeedback therapy – has been around since the 1950s. 

Like other biofeedback therapies, it entails using feedback from electric sensors in training to gain better control over the body and mind.

Neurofeedback is an intervention focused on improving brain function using brain training exercises, which has the potential to help people with depression.

Neurofeedback can improve activity in the left prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that lights up and becomes more active when people are happy.

Alternatively, it can also help quiet down the right prefrontal cortex, which is the most active part of the brain when people feel sad.

How It Works

Neurofeedback therapy works by training the brain to achieve the desired brainwave patterns through computer technology.

Think of it like training a puppy: If you want the puppy to stop barking, observe how it behaves to certain things. Then, provide punishment if it continues barking, and rewards if it stops.

In neurofeedback therapy, the patient’s brain activity is monitored while performing a certain task, like watching a video:

  • If the brain works in the desired way, the patient is rewarded with a better quality of video (reward).
  • If it’s not doing so well, the video instantly goes darker and becomes more difficult to watch (punishment).

These changes happen instantaneously, often in less than a second, so the video is adjusted in real time while the patient is hooked up to the brain training machine.

In the case of depression, this treatment focuses on increasing brain activity in the left frontal lobe (happiness) and reducing reactions in the right frontal lobe (sadness).

  1. Transcendental Meditation

Meditation is one of the oldest and most effective ways of calming oneself, whether you have depression or not. However, experts have taken this method of treatment a step further with a version that has a speedy effect on stress and anxiety: transcendental meditation (TM).

Evidence shows that TM practitioners experienced reduced anxiety and stress in their day-to-day lives. Some studies also found the treatment effective for a number of mental health conditions, such as:

  • Psychological distress – based on a 2014 study on teachers in The Permanente Journal.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – according to a 2013 study on active-duty military personnel in the Military Medicine journal.

How It Works

Unlike regular meditation, transcendental meditation doesn’t involve visualization or concentration. Instead, TM practitioners pick a word or phrase without any real meaning and use that as a mantra.

During meditation, practitioners repeatedly think of the mantra silently. This allows the mind to transcend naturally while staying relaxed and physically and mentally awake.

Many people learn TM in just a few months and experience reduced anxiety and stress after performing it regularly.

  1. Yoga

A well-known physical exercise, yoga involves various breathing techniques, body poses, and meditation.

Several studies – many of which are randomized controlled trials (the best way to verify results) – have confirmed that yoga can help relieve depression.

The Harvard Mental Health Letter pointed out the key findings from several studies. According to them, practicing yoga regularly can:

  • Lessen the effects of stress
  • Help people with depression and anxiety
  • Provide self-soothing akin to relaxation, meditation, and exercise
  • Boost energy levels

How It Works

Yoga is a therapeutic practice that combines endorphin-triggering physical movement and calming meditation – both known to relieve depression and its symptoms.

The meditation part of yoga allows a person to feel more present in the moment, ridding their minds of mental clutter and bringing to light more important things.

Meanwhile, the focused movements help strengthen the connection between the mind and body, which is what many people with depression lack.

The addition of breathing exercises makes yoga more effective in easing depressive symptoms, such as irritability, sleep issues, and anxiety.

Depression Symptoms and How to Cope with Them

Depression comes in many forms and doesn’t always appear in the same manner for each patient.

To help you fully overcome the condition, below are some of the possible symptoms you may be experiencing and ways to cope with them:

  • Irritability

Besides practicing positive thinking, try breathing exercises whenever negative feelings emerge.

It also helps to be more aware of your emotions and recognize the physical signs of irritability, such as shallow breathing, increased sweating, and muscle tension.

Also, try to avoid bottling up your emotions. Instead, contemplate your feelings and talk about them. This will give you better control over them and reduce the frequency of irritability outbursts.

  • Sleep Problems

The simplest way to deal with this is to get into a better sleeping routine. Maintain a regular sleeping and waking-up schedule every day.

Also, avoid performing any stressful tasks and keep devices that emit blue light away at least one hour before bedtime.

Exercising regularly helps as well. Physical activity can boost feel-good biochemicals known as “endorphins.” Besides making it easier to fall asleep, this practice is also believed to have a long-term benefit for people with depression.

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

As mentioned earlier, performing yoga is an effective way to lessen anxiety. This method of treatment also boosts your heart rate variability (HRV), which describes the changes in the gaps between heart beats.

A high HRV increases the body’s relaxation response, allowing it to overcome stress. The body then becomes better at adapting to stress through self-monitoring.

  • Low energy

Besides improving sleep quality, depression-related fatigue can be overcome with regular exercise. It also helps to establish positive habits, such as eating a balanced diet and daily meditation.

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

The key to overcoming thoughts about self-harm related to depression is acceptance. Meet yourself where you are and be open and loving towards yourself.

Besides practicing self-love, reach out to people you love and who love you. They can offer emotional support or a shoulder to cry on, or simply lend a compassionate ear.

It also helps to think about the things you’re thankful for every day. These can include having people you love, a job that puts food on the table, or even a roof over your head. Every little thing counts.

Win Against Depression

Although some medications used to treat depression help, not all people with the condition have the same reaction to them. Win against depression with these alternative treatment methods and live a happier, more fulfilling life.

AUTHOR BIO

Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, an award-winning neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain’s true potential. Earning a doctorate in Neuroscience from the revered Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Gala has spent over a decade trying to unravel the way neurochemical and neurophysiological changes in the brain affect the way we interact with the world. Her goal is to share her knowledge, encourage others to tap into and expand their brain’s capabilities, and dispel any myths surrounding our most complex organ.

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