Beyond the Pill: Alternative Approaches to Managing Depression Alongside Antidepressants

Beyond the Pill: Alternative Approaches to Managing Depression Alongside Antidepressants

Treatment for depression and similar psychological disorders (OCD, anxiety, etc) tends to swing from the sublime to the ridiculous: ‘just snap out of it’ all the way to ‘sedate yourself numb!’. But, as so often, the correct treatment falls somewhere between the two – and should be tailored to each individual case. Let’s have a look at some alternative approaches to managing depression alongside taking antidepressants, whether these are SSRIs, atypical treatments like Wellbutrin (Wellbutrin available at or MAOIs.

  • Exercise

It is known that exercise causes a boost to the serotonin and dopamine production in the body, so even if you loathe running with every fiber in your body, you can help top up your feel-good hormones by taking some kind of exercise. You don’t have to run, of course, you can try swimming, walking, playing a sport – anything that raises your heartrate and causes a light sweat is enough to have a positive effect on your good mood hormones.


  • Have a Routine

It is no surprise that depression and anxiety has soared with the recent Covid-19 lockdowns and the advent of widespread hybrid working. With people freer to plan their days to suit themselves, time loses its structure and this is not a good thing. Most people thrive on some kind of routine, so do try to go to bed at a decent hour, rise at the same time every day, and – most important for the blurred home-working/ flexible model – have a time when work is done for the day, so you can spend time with family, watch some TV, or simply veg out and do nothing at all for a bit.

  • Practice Self-Care

All of this ties into self-care. Looking after yourself is something that is easily shunted aside when that spreadsheet needs to be updated, the children need to be fed, your partner has a late finish at the office… But taking time to invest in yourself can yield an immense return, leaving you refreshed and soothed, ready to handle the next round of sibling squabbles, to cope with putting the bins out while your partner finishes their overtime and to deal with whatever demands your boss has imposed upon you. Without some downtime, you will burnout very quickly, and it is a short step from the early signs of burnout to poor mental health. Under self-care comes:

  • Eating right: a healthy body is a happy body – trite, a bit of a cliché, but very true
  • Staying hydrated: it is astounding how many medical issues are actually caused by dehydration. If you feel thirsty, you are already low on water, so try to drink a glass of water thirty minutes before (or after) meals to stave off ever becoming thirsty.
  • Sleeping sufficiently and well: Get your seven or eight hours in a comfortable bed – there is a good reason that writers and poets from the ancient Greeks right up to Dickens all raved about the wonders of a good night’s sleep.
  • Meditating/ Practicing yoga: Gentle stretches alongside mindful thinking about your body and its abilities while you let go of the day-to-day hassles is almost as good as a mini-holiday, rejuvenating you and giving you a little buzz to get you through the rest of your day.
  • Avoid artificial stimulants: Coffee, alcohol, various pick-me-ups, energy drinks – all of these have become things that we ‘need’ to get us through the day, but what they actually do is worsen the problem. And disrupting the body’s need for sleep, for proper nourishment, for hydration can cause issues like depression to worsen, so try to avoid them and listen to your body instead, introducing a daytime nap at lunch rather than chugging a can of caffeine-laden energy drink. Quite apart from anything else, taking any of these products alongside antidepressants can be harmful and cause the treatment to have an unexpected effect.

Depression and similar conditions are a normal part of our modern busy lives, and they should be accepted as such – and they can be treated too, with various lifestyle changes and medication.