SSRI Alternatives (Non-pharmaceutical)
Many people, even those already taking SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), have interest and questions about what other options exist in SSRI alternative treatments. And, there may be questions about how effective they may be.
The most effective SSRI alternatives used for treating depression are based on an integrative approach—the approach used at Alternative to Meds Center. This wider context of mental health treatment draws from the entire range of possible treatment methods. These can blend effective strategies such as psychotherapy, lifestyle coaching, targeted nutrition regimens, and physical therapies. Rather than taking a “shot in the dark” approach, the synergy achieved from multiple therapeutic approaches offers better long-term recovery and symptom resolution than any single effort by itself. An alternative, integrative health care counselor or practitioner can fully evaluate a client’s history and physical state of health, and then coordinate care to meet individual needs.1
You may have found that a trip to the doctor is too rushed for such an in-depth approach. If so, do not be dismayed. Take the time to find a medical practitioner who understands holistic treatment, is willing to assist your efforts, and is prepared to take the time to do so. There are well over a million practicing physicians and half a million specialists in the US today. There are over 9 million doctors in the world. Alternative to Meds Center has a full arsenal of qualified, compassionate, and experienced physicians who are specialized in the fields of mental health, holistic psychiatry, addiction recovery, and alternative medicine. In the world at large, we are sure there are ample practitioners who are well-versed in nutrition and other alternative mental health treatments to choose from to help you wherever you reside.6,7,8
Natural SSRI Alternatives vs Prescription Medication?
Contrary to the TV ads, feeling happy is not about just one single molecule within the brain. In fact, almost always there are several underpinnings to feeling depressed. Our brain chemistry is coaxed with the choices we make. There is much we can do in our daily lives to support a more positive mood and outlook. It might take some effort. Change is not always easy. It might take enlisting quality help from others. Very probably, it will require some research on your own behalf. We hope the information here will help you in your learning journey.
We will discuss other alternatives for SSRIs below, including dietary and lifestyle considerations and more. A prescription for SSRI medication may seem like a quick and easy fix but one would be well-advised to stop and take a closer look at the science or lack thereof before deciding on what would be the best and most authentically helpful treatment options for your unique situation.
For example, new research on the antimicrobial effects of antidepressants is receiving much interest from the medical and mental health communities. We have been looking at this subject for more than 15 years at Alternative to Meds Center. Current research by McGovern et al suggests that when a person takes an SSRI medication, concentrated amounts of that drug remain in the colon for a significant length of time. The effects of SSRI medication as an antimicrobial agent are a big concern that is too often overlooked.12 The state of one’s gut microbiota should be seriously considered in the field of mental health. This knowledge can help understand, at least in part, why these medications cause the adverse reactions that they do.9 A healthy and thriving microbiota is essential for mental health as well as physical health. A 2019 article in the British Journal of Hospital Medicine authored by Butler et al advises that gut bacteria are relatively easy to improve with prebiotics, probiotics, and diet. These nutrients can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and improve cognitive function. And the authors note that these interventions have produced encouraging results, with positive implications for mental health treatment.10,11
Useful SSRI Alternatives
Below, we discuss some options to explore for SSRI alternative medicine and alternative therapies that can provide relief without medications. This can include various genres of counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy or other forms of talk therapy, bodywork therapies, such as therapeutic massage, chiropractic, osteopathic manipulative therapy, and craniosacral therapy (CST). Also made available to our clients are these: acupuncture; targeted amino acid therapy support, such as GABA, 5-hydroxytryptophan, and SAM-e. Other choices include nutritional supplements, for example, minerals such as magnesium, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. Also, herbal therapy, such as passionflower, St. John’s Wort, valerian, or oriental medicinal herbs may be useful. Any form of exercise, including walking, yoga, swimming, working out in a gym, or in the living room, and equine therapy are all very simple but powerful natural alternatives to SSRIs. Exercising serves as a natural form of SSRI alternative medicine, as exercising releases feel-good chemicals in the brain that help regulate depression. There exists a bountiful reservoir of authentic therapies that can be blended into a unique program for recovery from depression and health recovery after SSRI use.