For many people struggling with depression, incorporating mind-body practices into depression treatment can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. However, given the serious nature of depression, it's crucial not to attempt to self-treat.
If you're currently undergoing any type of depression treatment, do not pursue a new form of treatment without consulting your doctor. Furthermore, if you feel depressed but aren't currently in treatment, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms and possible treatment options as soon as possible.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
There are a number of depressive symptoms, many of which may interfere with your daily functioning. These symptoms include:
- loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- a persistent feeling of sadness and/or worthlessness
- change in weight
- sleep problems
- loss of energy
- thoughts of death or suicide
The Importance of Depression Treatment
When left untreated, depression can contribute to a number of serious problems, such as:
Depression Treatment Options
In order to find the depression treatment that's right for you, it's important to work closely with your doctor and/or mental health care provider. Commonly prescribed depression treatments include medication, psychotherapy, and a combination of the two.
Additionally, many health care providers recommend pairing your treatment with certain self-care strategies, including:
- getting regular exercise
- avoiding alcohol and drugs
- practicing good sleep hygiene
Stress Management and Depression Treatment
Since chronic stress can make you more likely to experience depression, managing stress is also considered beneficial in protecting against it. In fact, some studies suggest that reducing stress may help relieve depressive symptoms.
Mind-Body Depression Treatment
While alternative therapies have yet to be extensively researched as a form of depression treatment, there's evidence that the following practices may benefit people with depression:
For a research review published in 2005, scientists sized up five randomized controlled trials that examined yoga's impact on people with mild to severe depression. Results revealed that yoga had a beneficial effect on depressive disorders, although "several of the interventions may not be feasible in those with reduced or impaired mobility," according to the review's authors.
In a more recent report, published in 2007, researchers assigned 37 depression patients to 20 yoga sessions. Among the 17 participants who completed the study, the researchers observed a significant decrease in depression, anger, anxiety, and neurotic symptoms.
Acupuncture (a needle-based ancient Chinese therapy thought to ease stress) may significantly reduce the severity of disease in patients with depression, according to a 2008 meta-analysis of eight trials with a total 477 participants. However, in a systematic review published in 2005, investigators analyzed seven trails (including a total of 517 subjects) and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine the efficacy of acupuncture as a depression treatment.
In a 2009 pilot study of 28 people with depression, researchers determined that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (a healing approach that pairs mindfulness meditation with cognitive behavioral therapy) helped reduce depressive symptoms. However, in a 2007 research review of 15 studies, scientists found that mindfulness-based stress reduction (a meditation-based treatment approach) does not have a reliable effect on depression.
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