Non-Pharmacological Options for Managing Depression: What the Pharmaceutical Companies Will Never Tell You

– Bright light exposure represents a proven strategy for managing
depression. Light receptors in the retina connect to circuits in the
brain that regulate circadian rhythm. Sunlight is the prime stimulator
of the eyes’ photoreceptors: it triggers a cascade of neurochemical
reactions that aid in keeping the “body clock” in synch. Regular bright
light exposure – either via sunlight or specially designed light boxes –
can restore healthy circadian function to the brain and improve mood.
physical_activity
  • – Bright light exposure represents a proven strategy for managing depression. Light receptors in the retina connect to circuits in the brain that regulate circadian rhythm. Sunlight is the prime stimulator of the eyes’ photoreceptors: it triggers a cascade of neurochemical reactions that aid in keeping the “body clock” in synch. Regular bright light exposure – either via sunlight or specially designed light boxes – can restore healthy circadian function to the brain and improve mood.
  • – Yes, I must mention the dreaded “e” word. Two landmark studies have shown that just moderate physical activity – walking three times a week – is as effective as prescription antidepressants such as Zoloft. Physical exercise stimulates the synthesis of growth hormone that initiates the sprouting of new nerve connections. Simply put, exercise helps reverse the neurotoxicity of depression.
     
  • – How we feel is critically affected by diet. A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids – some of the key building blocks of brain tissue – is now strongly linked to depression. Omega-3 fats facilitate the brain’s use of the “feel-good” nerve chemicals – norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Omega-3 supplements, typically in the form of fish oils, have demonstrated in multiple trials to have a considerable antidepressant effect.
  • – Ever heard the expression “if you want to change the way you feel, change the way you think?” Modification of negative, pessimistic thinking is definitely reflected in corresponding shifts in brain activity for the better. You can often accomplish this free of charge by befriending positive, optimistic people or seeking out a mentor. Positive people typically won’t let you slip into apathetic thinking patterns when you’re in their presence. You can then model their upbeat attitude when you’re on your own.
Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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