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What is Holistic Treatment for Depression?

silhouette of a woman over a sunrise depicting holistic treatmentDepression can affect every aspect of your life. If you’re depressed, you may have an overwhelming sense of sadness, hopelessness, exhaustion, unexplained chronic pain or digestive issues, and difficulty performing everyday activities. There may be times when you question whether life is even worth living.

It is crucial to understand that depression is a chronic but treatable illness. Without treatment, depression can worsen and may become life-threatening. Researchers find a holistic treatment approach focused on healing your mind, body, and spirit improves the likelihood of long-term recovery.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery from mental disorders like depression as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.”

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can range from mild, temporary bouts of sadness to the most severe form of depression, known as major depressive disorder. Your doctor may diagnose depression if you suffer for at least two weeks from a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed, along with at least four other symptoms of depression.

Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts signal a mental health emergency. If you or someone you love express these symptoms, reach out for help immediately by contacting 911, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or mental health emergency services.

In contrast to depression, wellness means all aspects of your personality are in balance, including:

  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Mental (how well your mind processes and understands information and experiences)
  • Emotional (your ability to manage and express emotions that arise)

Psychotherapy, commonly known as talk therapy, prescribed medications, and your adoption of specific behavioral and lifestyle changes can help you achieve the balance so important to your long-term happiness.

It is common for depression to co-occur with substance use disorder or another mental health disorder. If you struggle with two or more conditions simultaneously, they must be treated together for successful long-term recovery.

Talk Therapy For Depression

Talking one-on-one with a mental health counselor or in a group setting supervised by a qualified mental health professional is essential to recovery. You will learn to identify triggers to your depression as well as coping skills to change or manage your response to those triggers.

Experts find specific therapeutic approaches are especially effective in the treatment of depression, including:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you identify and change negative thought or behavior patterns contributing to your depression.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that helps you learn to manage highly intense emotions and adopt healthier thought processes.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) focuses on improving interpersonal relationships that may adversely impact your mental health. IPT helps you enhance interpersonal communication skills and learn to resolve conflict productively.

Psychodynamic Therapy helps you identify how your depression may be related to past trauma and unresolved conflict and learn how to address these issues so you can move forward.

For some, talk therapy can continue for months or years. However, the above therapeutic approaches often produce positive results within a relatively short period.

There are many other therapeutic approaches to mental health and substance abuse issues. Your mental health professional may recommend other approaches, depending on your specific needs.

Prescribed Medications for Depression

Prescribed medications can help reduce symptoms of depression and are especially effective when combined with talk therapy and lifestyle changes.

Some of the most prescribed medications for depression include:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Spravato (esketamine) for treatment-resistant depression

While these medications can be effective when used as prescribed, they carry potential risks and unpleasant side effects. Discuss potential risks and side effects with your doctor.

Some individuals have found certain supplements and vitamins can help with depression by addressing vitamin deficiencies and other personal biological factors. Some studies support the effectiveness of adding supplements to your health program. However, certain supplements may interfere with medications your doctor has prescribed or may pose other risks. Don’t begin taking vitamins or supplements without your doctor’s knowledge and approval.

Lifestyle Changes and Self-Healing Practices

Holistic treatment of depression focuses on your whole being. While talk therapy is an essential component of healing, your commitment to a healthy lifestyle and practice of self-healing techniques are equally vital. Other aspects of holistic treatment include:

Exercise

Regular exercise increases endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals in the brain, lifting your mood, increasing self-esteem and energy, and lowering stress levels. The more you make exercise a part of your routine, the more your brain imprints positive changes.

One recent study found “regular engagement in low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for six weeks is effective in alleviating subclinical depressive symptoms.”

Nutrition

Regular consumption of alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, soft drinks, and other foods high in sugar can worsen depression.

Commit to a diet rich in lean proteins, omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon and tuna), folic acid (like spinach and avocado), beans and peas, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and whole grains to ease depression.

Your physical and mental health will improve by sticking to an exercise plan, eating a nutritious diet, drinking at least eight glasses of water every day, and committing to a healthy sleep schedule. A healthy lifestyle keeps your body functioning well, lifts your mood, enhances your self-esteem, and improves your quality of life.

Mind-body practices

Studies find that mind-body practices significantly impact depression, anxiety, and other chronic health conditions. By learning to relax your body and focus your mind, you can allow negative emotions to pass through you.

When you combine talk therapy, medication therapy (if appropriate), healthy lifestyle practices, and self-healing techniques, you are well-equipped to manage depression successfully.

Self-healing techniques include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Meditation and mindfulness train your brain to focus on the present moment while allowing negative emotions or sensations to pass away.
  • Yoga helps reduce stress, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and calm your mind and body. The practice also helps you stretch and strengthen your body.
  • Deep breathing triggers your body’s natural relaxation response. As you take in slow, deep breaths, your mind releases negative thoughts.
  • Practicing positive thinking is much easier if you avoid negative input from news, movies, TV shows, books, and negative people. Instead, listen to or read inspirational stories or express your creativity through art, dance, music, writing, or another avenue.
  • According to researchers like Harvard Health, connecting with nature helps lift your mood. Many studies find spending time outdoors improves symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Many other mind-body practices improve mood and promote relaxation, including acupuncture, massage, guided imagery, Tai chi, and many more. Try various approaches to find which techniques you find most helpful.

As you embark on your self-healing journey, experts suggest setting small goals to start. Your mental health counselor can guide you in setting goals and incorporating them into a daily routine. As you begin to feel better, you will find yourself looking forward to challenging yourself with new goals.

Rising Phoenix Wellness Services

Rising Phoenix is a licensed mental health and substance use disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in Scottsdale, Arizona. We also treat dual diagnoses.

Our unique, integrative approach blends evidence-based therapeutic modalities with each client’s mind, body, and spiritual needs. We strive to help each person achieve balance and healing and treat each client with the compassion and respect they deserve.

The expert team at Rising Phoenix is skilled in various therapeutic approaches, including Yoga Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Y-CBT). Y-CBT blends traditional and alternative cognitive behavioral therapy methods with yoga and meditation to help clients restructure negative emotional patterns.

Contact us today to begin your healing journey.

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