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Antidepressant Alternatives

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on July 20, 2021 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

At Alternative to Meds Center, we utilize effective antidepressant alternative treatments that can resolve the problem of remaining on medication for a lifetime.

Whether users struggle with adverse effects,7 the ineffectiveness of the medication,6 or simply want to treat their mental health naturally, antidepressant alternatives may be the answer that was overlooked.

Do Your Symptoms
Require Antidepressants?

antidepressant alternatives
Alternative to Meds gives expert antidepressant withdrawal treatment and we’ve been going strong for over 15 years. We have published evidence tracking the wonderful results of our clients. We take the time to study the lab tests, find anomalies in nutrient profiles, and resolve them, look at how to mitigate genetic markers, remove neurotoxic contaminants, promote healing in many, many ways. Some drug-free therapies may be as effective and less harmful than traditional drug-based treatments for depression.8 We invite you to find out more about how we may be able to help you or your loved one.
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Antidepressant Alternative Treatments

alternative treatments for depressionAlternative treatments for anxiety and depression come in many forms that for many, don’t require medication for effective results. Choosing natural antidepressant alternatives instead of relying on prescription drugs could be a better answer. Depression can ultimately be greatly relieved if not entirely resolved through correcting underlying issues, along with other changes that will support natural mental health and wellness.9

Alternative to Meds Center employs intricate techniques of alternative medicine and antidepressant tapering to allow individuals to come off medication comfortably, and transition into an antidepressant alternative treatment regimen. Do you wish to watch yourself, or a loved one start living the life you know can be possible? Through antidepressant alternatives, people can address similar issues without enduring antidepressant side effects. Alternative medicine provides an alternative to pharmaceutical psychiatry that treats depressive symptoms with drugs. Many have ‘been there, done that” and found the results to be lacking, or been have debilitating consequences.6,10 Some doctors even report that long term use of antidepressants may cause permanent damage.11 Alternative and naturopathic practitioners tend to use the innate wisdom of the body for healing by finding the right combination of therapies, changes in lifestyle, and anything else each different person requires for optimal physical and mental health.12 The alternative medicine approach focuses on each person uniquely, instead of prescribing a psychiatric prescription to every depressed patient.13 Alternative to Meds Center sees each patient as an individual and establishes a unique set of tailored alternatives for their specific needs.

Prescription Drugs vs Antidepressant Alternatives

Alternatives can be used in place of medications such as Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, and Paxil.14 Our methods use scientific and complementary approaches that can help transition people from antidepressants to many of the alternative holistic treatments that are widely available in today’s world.

Many clinical studies continue to show that natural substances like St John’s Wort 1 can be just as effective as the commonly prescribed antidepressant medications that are prescribed each year.15

Seasonal Affective Disorder Antidepressant Alternatives

seasonal affective disorderSAD, or seasonal affective disorder, is a term given to a feeling of low mood which primarily comes on in the fall & winter seasons, where days shorten and hours of sunlight contract.16 In northern climates, the travel industry provides welcome relief by offering “get-away” specials, and a chance to escape the “winter blues.”

The drugmakers offer “solutions” in the form of antidepressant medication. Did you know there are alternatives to antidepressants that can help with SAD?

Melatonin is a precursor to serotonin, and increasing light exposure to the eyes and skin boosts the production of this important hormone.4 This is why light therapy is thought to be so helpful for depression related to the shorter days of sunlight that occur seasonally. Melatonin levels drop as we age, and a deficiency can introduce other symptoms such as insomnia. Below is a summary of various things you can do to help with SAD.

Antidepressant Alternatives for Seasonal Affective Disorder Include:

  • Light therapy 18 — get some quick coaching on the best daily use of therapeutic lights.**
  • Counseling (CBT),19 learn relaxation techniques such as those taught in mindfulness training.
  • Improve diet to include organic vegetables and fruits, adequate daily protein, avoid sugars and caffeine and food additives that may exacerbate the blues.9
  • Adequate sleep — many people find melatonin (precursor to serotonin) can help to improve the quality of sleep.21
  • Mild exercise — releases endorphins (natural happy chemicals) 5*
  • Strive to maintain healthy social contacts, and avoid toxic people, workmates, etc., as much as possible.20

* Studies show exercise and exposure to sunlight can immensely improve overall health and feeling of well-being.
** An estimated 60-80% of people report positive results from light therapy.

Natural Antidepressant Alternatives

Alternatives to antidepressants may include acupuncture,22 controlled breathing techniques,23 biofeedback,24 dietary changes and food therapy,9 nutritional therapy including vitamins,8 herbal medicine and herbal supplements like St John’s Wort,8 exercise,5 hypnosis,25 yoga,26 reflexology,28 massage therapy,27 sound and music therapy,29 DBT,30 CBT counseling, and other forms of talk therapy.19 There are many genres of counseling including cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness coaching, lifestyle coaching, exposure therapy, and others. Exercise is one of the most rewarding and easiest practices to get into on a regular basis. Exercise is available in many different forms and is one of many antidepressant alternatives and natural therapies. Exercising allows good things to flow through the body, reduces stress, and builds confidence among many other positive things. Stress reduction and confidence-building are two excellent steps in a plan for effective alternatives to antidepressant medication.

Natural Antidepressant Alternatives Include:

  • natural alternatives to antidepressantsIndividual CBT 19
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy 30
  • Exercise 38
  • Tryptophan 37
  • SAMe 8
  • Omega Fatty Acids 8
  • Vitamin D 39
  • Testing for and clearing out neurotoxins lodged in the body 36
  • Acupuncture 22
  • Controlled breathing techniques 23
  • Biofeedback 24
  • Dietary changes and food therapy 9
  • Nutritional therapy including vitamins 9
  • Herbal medicines and herbal supplements like St John’s Wort 8
  • Fresh air and sunshine 25
  • Yoga 26
  • Reflexology 28
  • Massage therapy 27
  • Sound and music therapy 29

Antidepressant Alternative Therapies

Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that has been used as an effective depression alternatives treatment.22 Acupuncture increases blood flow and inner balance, among many other benefits. Many people’s depression could be attributed to deficiencies, imbalances, and blocks within the body and mind. From the surface of the skin, acupuncture allows the balance to flow, and blockages to be released. Acupuncture and exercise both boost endorphins; endorphins are the natural, feel-good chemicals in our bodies. Therefore, acupuncture and exercise can have calming and relaxing effects. Acupuncture can relieve and release physical pain and emotional pain. Acupuncture is another example of excellent antidepressant alternatives that can be used in Celexa alternatives treatment plans, as well as other antidepressant replacement plans.

Antidepressant natural treatmentsMassage therapy and reflexology therapy are incredibly relaxing and healing therapies. Massage releases tension and stress and is healthy for the body and mind. Biofeedback is another one of the alternatives to antidepressants. This form of treatment naturally and gradually coaches brainwave patterns to function healthily and properly.32 Drugmakers sell the idea of making these changes biochemically but have little in the way of proof that it is actually occurring.31 Antidepressant alternatives help in ways that have proven as effective as prescription drugs but are safer to implement.15 Alternative mental health treatments just don’t have the same potential for negative or adverse effects. At Alternative to Meds Center, each treatment regimen is entirely unique and customized for every client. We incorporate a comprehensive combination of treatments that will help each unique set of factors for our clients.

Food, Microbiome, Lifestyle Factors

We may often forget that the same insults which our body would receive from a poor diet, negatively impact our brains and CNS as well.

If a person does not supply the body with the correct nutrients, in the correct quantities, the body cannot function at maximum capacity.8 Add to this a compromised microbiome that just isn’t breaking down nutrients that are consumed, which makes a perfect storm for both mental and physical problems. A diet that does not contain the nutrients, enzymes, etc., that the gut needs for keeping the colon clear, and keeping the immune system strong is a sure predictor of problems in the body. Researchers have even called the microbiome “the second brain.”33

Handling Root Causes for Symptoms

antidepressant root causesThere can be many different factors that are negatively impacting a person. For instance, perhaps the individual is overwhelmed in a life that is unfulfilling and they need a better or different environment to make changes. Perhaps toxic relationships are causing untenable distress and these need to be worked on as part of an overall plan.34 Perhaps one has gotten complacent and needs to overhaul their exercise, diet, and fitness regimens. There can also be genetic factors at play, making it difficult for the body to metabolize certain nutrients in the body.35 All of these areas can be addressed for positive improvements.

But we find by far that one of the main culprits in symptoms like depression, anxiety, insomnia. mood swings and other complaints are that the body will test positive for an accumulation of toxic residues.36 These could be heavy metals from dentistry, from medications, or other exposures in the home or from work, from cleaning products, from pollution, from food additives, etc. The good news is that the body responds positively when these are eliminated through colonics, low-temperature sauna, chelation, and other cleansing methods. How exciting to be able to rid oneself of toxic sludge and the symptoms that are relieved by doing so.

Holistic Antidepressant Alternatives Programs

sedona holistic drug rehabAlternative to Meds Center is not the typical drug rehab. Our facility has the goal to discover the underlying medical reasons why a person may be depressed. Our treatment program uses the following methods:  lab testing, orthomolecular medicine, natural substances that stabilize the neurochemistry, cleansing and purification for the dislodging of built-up environmental neurotoxins, medication withdrawal tapering techniques, IV nutrient treatment and other nutritional treatments, support from peers, yoga, massage, exercise, personal training, counseling and healing therapies that are alternative to psychiatry medicating to address depression and offer effective antidepressant alternative treatments.2

We find success here daily. Weekly, we hold graduations in celebration of the successes of our participants. Family and friends are warmly welcome to attend. Amazing tales have been told at these graduations, sometimes recounting many decades of untold strife and struggling, now talked about with incredible clarity. Seeing this is an inspiration knowing they have all of the tools to keep up their new-found healthy lifestyle and be a symbol of hope for others. You are invited to give us a call at the center and find out about the antidepressant alternatives that are available for you or your loved one.

1. Ng Q, Venkatanarayanan N, Ho C, “Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort) in depression: A meta-analysis,” [Internet] 2017 Mar [cited 2020 Sep 13]

2. “What Causes Depression?” Harvard Medical School Pub. [Internet] 2009 Jun, updated 2019 Jun [cited 2020 Sep 13]

3. “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – symptoms and causes.” Mayo Clinic Info Letter [Internet] N.D. [cited 2020 Sep 13]

4. “Mindfulness exercises” Mayo Clinic Info letter [Internet] 2008 Aug 17 [cited 2020 Sep 13]

5. “Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress.”: Mayo Clinic Information Letter [Internet] 2020 Aug 18 [cited 2020 Sep 13]

6. The drugs don’t work? antidepressants and the current and future pharmacological management of depression Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012 Oct; 2(5): 179–188. Elizabeth Penn corresponding author and Derek K. Tracy [cited 2020 Dec 26]

7. Though common in use, SSRIs are not without their side effects. Harvard Health Publishing Updated: March 19, 2019. Published: March 2014 [cited 2020 Dec 26]

8. Update and Critique of Natural Remedies as Antidepressant Treatments Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Dec 1. Published in final edited form as: Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2009 Dec; 36(4): 789–807. David Mischoulon, MD, PhD [cited 2020 Dec 26]

9. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao [cited 2020 Dec 26]

10. The ‘extreme’ side-effects of antidepressants By Lesley Ashmall BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme Published 19 October 2016  [cited 2020 Dec 22]

11. Long-term use of antidepressants could cause permanent damage, doctors warn Sky News Tuesday 9 April 2019 UK By Katie Spencer, news reporter [cited 2020 Dec 22]

12. What is a Naturopathic Doctor? American Association of Naturopathic Medicine [cited Dec 26, 2020]

13. Are We Training Psychiatrists to Provide Only Medication Management? Psychiatric Times Vol 28 No 6, Volume 28, Issue 6 June 27, 2011. Sidney Weissman, MD [cited Dec 26, 2020]

14. Mischoulon, D. (2008). Natural Medications for Psychiatric Disorders: Considering the Alternatives. Argentina: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. [cited Dec 26, 2020]

15. Complementary & Alternative Medicine for Mental Health PDF 2016 Mental Health America Updated April 8, 2016 [cited Dec 26, 2020]

16. Seasonal Affective Disorder National Institute of Mental Health [cited Dec 26, 2020]

17. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004; 6(3): 104–111. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed Lynette L. Craft, Ph.D. and Frank M. Perna, Ed.D., Ph.D. [cited Dec 26, 2020]

18. Seasonal Affective Disorder Canadian Mental Health Association British Columbia Division [cited Dec 27, 2020]

19. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Mood Disorders: Efficacy, Moderators and Mediators Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep; 33(3): 537–555. Ellen Driessen, M.Sc. and Steven D. Hollon, Ph.D. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

20. Unhealthy and unhappy: Mental toll of troubled relationships. Some forms of domestic violence double victims’ risk of depression and anxiety disorders later in life, according to recent research. The University of Queensland. January 29, 2020. [cited Dec 27, 2020]

21. Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008 Sep; 10(3): 329–336. David Nutt, DM, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci, Sue Wilson, PhD, and Louise Paterson, PhD [cited Dec 27, 2020]

22. Sniezek, D. P., & Siddiqui, I. J. (2013). Acupuncture for Treating Anxiety and Depression in Women: A Clinical Systematic Review. Medical acupuncture, 25(3), 164–172. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

23. Sharma A, Barrett MS, Cucchiara AJ, Gooneratne NS, Thase ME. A Breathing-Based Meditation Intervention for Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Following Inadequate Response to Antidepressants: A Randomized Pilot Study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2017;78(1):e59-e63. doi:10.4088/JCP.16m10819 [cited 2020 Dec 27]

24. Ratanasiripong P, Kaewboonchoo O, Ratanasiripong N, Hanklang S, Chumchai P. Biofeedback Intervention for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression among Graduate Students in Public Health Nursing. Nurs Res Pract. 2015;2015:160746. doi:10.1155/2015/160746 [cited 2020 Dec 27]

25. Sarris J, de Manincor M, Hargraves F, Tsonis J. “Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health.” Front Psychiatry. 2019;10:256. Published 2019 Apr 24. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00256 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

26. The Efficacy of Yoga as a Form of Treatment for Depression J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct; 22(4): 1017–1028.Published online 2017 Jun 30. Ledetra Bridges, LMSW and Manoj Sharma, MBBS, MCHES, PhD [cited 2020 Dec 27]

27. Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis J Clin Psychiatry 2010 Jul;71(7):894-901. Epub 2010 Mar 23. Wen-Hsuan Hou, Pai-Tsung Chiang, Tun-Yen Hsu, Su-Ying Chiu, Yung-Chieh Yen [cited 2020 Dec 27]

28. Bahrami T, Rejeh N, Heravi-Karimooi M, Tadrisi SD, Vaismoradi M. The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Hospital Anxiety and Depression in Female Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2019;12(3):16-21. Published 2019 Aug 30. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

29. Leubner D, Hinterberger T. Reviewing the Effectiveness of Music Interventions in Treating Depression. Front Psychol. 2017;8:1109. Published 2017 Jul 7. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01109 [cited 2020 Dec 27]

30. Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Depressed Older Adults: A Randomized Pilot Study The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry Volume 11, Issue 1, January–February 2003, Pages 33-45 Regular Research Article Thomas R. Lynch Ph.D., Jennifer Q. Morse Ph.D., Tamar Mendelson M.A., Clive J. Robins Ph.D. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

31. Why Are There No Biological Tests in Psychiatry? Scientific American By Ingrid Wickelgren on May 11, 2012 [cited 2020 Dec 27]

32. Frank DL, Khorshid L, Kiffer JF, Moravec CS, McKee MG. Biofeedback in medicine: who, when, why and how?. Ment Health Fam Med. 2010;7(2):85-91. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

33. Lucas G. Gut thinking: the gut microbiome and mental health beyond the head. Microb Ecol Health Dis. 2018;29(2):1548250. Published 2018 Nov 30. doi:10.1080/16512235.2018.1548250. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

34. “The Hidden Health Hazards of Toxic Relationships,” Being around a toxic friend, partner, or co-worker can do real damage. Psychology Today, Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. Posted Aug 07, 2011. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

35. Introduction to Inherited Disorders of Metabolism Merek Manual By Matt Demczko , MD, Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University Division of Diagnostic Referral Services, Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

36. Environmental Exposures and Depression: Biological Mechanisms and Epidemiological Evidence Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 40:239-259 (Volume publication date April 2019) First published as a Review in Advance on January 11, 2019 [cited 2020 Dec 27]

37. The Effects of Dietary Tryptophan on Affective Disorders Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2015 Apr; 29(2): 102–107. Published online 2014 Dec 9. Glenda Lindseth, Brian Helland, and Julie Caspers [cited 2020 Dec 27]

38. Craft LL, Perna FM. The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(3):104-111. doi:10.4088/pcc.v06n0301. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

39. Penckofer S, Kouba J, Byrn M, Estwing Ferrans C. Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010;31(6):385-393. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657. [cited 2020 Dec 27]

Originally Published Nov 5, 2019 by Lyle Murphy

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Antidepressant Alternatives
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