Effectiveness of Alternative Treatments for Depression
Which alternative treatments work for depression? A succinct summary of the scientific evidence.
Most people with depression try to manage the illness themselves. Some of these self-management approaches have undergone some reasonable scientific testing and can therefore be tried, especially when the depression is not severe or life-threatening.
Some common strategies like drinking more alcohol or smoking cannabis are clearly unhelpful.
Other people try alternative therapies or adjusting their life-cycle. Some activities like increased physical activity or attention to sleep patterns are clearly beneficial.
Herbal remedies for depression and other alternative health practices may be either helpful or harmful.
Some of these approaches have undergone some reasonable scientific testing and can therefore be tried, especially when the depression is not severe or life-threatening. Treatments in the 'poor evidence' box below need more studies to see whether they are helpful or not.
TABLE 1. EVIDENCE-BASE OF DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS FOR DEPRESSION
|Good Evidence||Some Evidence||Poor Evidence|
|- St John's Wort |
- Physical exercise
- Self-help books involving cognitive behavior therapy
- Light therapy (for winter depression)
|- Acupuncture |
- Light therapy (for non-seasonal depression)
- Massage therapy
- Negative air ionisation (for winter depression)
- Relaxation therapy
- SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine)*
- Yoga breathing exercises
|- Ginseng |
- Lemon balm
- Colour therapy
*SAMe is an amino acid that occurs naturally in cells. # Vervain is a traditional herbal remedy for depression consisting of the aerial parts of a flowering plant.
Source: Jorm AF, Christensen H, Griffiths KM, Rodgers B. Effectiveness of complementary and self-help treatments for depression. MJA 2002; 176 Suppl
May 20: p. S84-96.
Staff, H. (2008, October 24). Effectiveness of Alternative Treatments for Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, December 8 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alternative-mental-health/depression-alternative/effectiveness-of-alternative-treatments-for-depression