Written by Samantha Carter

Depression can be a debilitating burden to bear, affecting millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 280 million people suffer from depression globally, making it one of the leading causes of disability and the number one cause of suicide. However, depression doesn’t have to mean a death sentence.

While often misunderstood, stigmatized, and challenging to manage, there are numerous strategies and treatments to help individuals better cope with and overcome depression. Here at Plus by APN, we believe in a holistic approach to mental healthcare. We hope that by educating others about depression, its impact, and different ways to try and counteract it, we can help enhance the mental well-being of countless individuals across the globe.

Understanding Depression

Depression is more than just feeling sad or experiencing occasional bouts of low mood. It’s a serious mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. Depression can affect how individuals think, feel, and handle daily activities, often leading to significant impairment in various areas of life.

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Continuous sadness or emptiness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression can manifest differently in each individual, and its severity can range from mild to severe. While the exact cause of depression is not fully understood, it is believed to result from a unique combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Traumatic life events, chronic stress, brain chemistry imbalances, and underlying medical conditions can all contribute to the development of depression.

Treatment Options for Depression

To effectively manage depression, a comprehensive approach – that may include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies – should be considered. What works best for one person may not work for another, so it’s essential to explore various approaches to find what works best for you. Below are 20 different things individuals can try to alleviate symptoms of depression and enhance their overall well-being.

1. Talk Therapy

Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, includes popular approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. Talk therapy can help individuals explore and address underlying issues contributing to their depression while learning how to cope with and manage their symptoms. Studies show that psychotherapy can improve states of depression just as well as medication, and is even more effective when combined with pharmaceuticals for severe cases of depression.

Therapy provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgment. Through regular sessions, clients gain insight into their behaviors, emotions, and patterns of thinking, leading to increased self-awareness and understanding.

Regular psychotherapy can also help improve the participant’s relationships by helping them refine communication skills and better understand interpersonal dynamics. For individuals facing the struggle of depression, talk therapy can be a powerful tool to help facilitate personal growth, resilience, and empowerment, leading to a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

2. Medication

As previously mentioned, medication can be useful in severe cases of depression, especially when other approaches alone are not working. Antidepressant medications can include different types of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) designed to rebalance brain chemistry and alleviate symptoms of depression.

Medication should always be prescribed under the guidance of a healthcare professional. It should also be noted that different medications can have various contraindications, side effects, and warnings, some of which may include suicidal ideation and intensified thoughts of depression.

3. Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help individuals cultivate present moment awareness that can reduce stress and anxiety associated with depression. Studies have shown the profound impact that mindfulness can have on individuals experiencing depression, improving symptoms and overall sense of well-being.

Mindfulness encompasses a variety of practices to help facilitate an acceptance and surrender to what is. Different ways to approach mindfulness may include:

  • Meditation – focusing attention on the breath, bodily sensations, or an object, while gently acknowledging and letting go of distracting thoughts
  • Yoga, tai chi, or qigong – integrates breath awareness with physical movement to promote a deeper connection between the mind and body
  • Daily mindfulness activities – where individuals bring full attention to routine tasks like eating, walking, or washing dishes, fostering a sense of presence and appreciation for the present moment

Mindful listening and mindful communication techniques emphasize the importance of active listening and empathetic communication, resulting in enhanced interpersonal relationships and reduced misunderstandings.

There are also several different mindfulness-based talk therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which integrate mindfulness practices through cognitive-behavioral techniques to effectively treat various mental health conditions, including depression.

4. Exercise

Regular physical activity has been shown to boost mood, reduce symptoms of depression, and promote overall well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week, and remember that moving consistently is more important than how you move or how intensely you exercise.

Depression is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder by committing yourself to a marathon you’ll be stressing yourself over completing. Simply choose movement activities that bring you joy and try to incorporate them as frequently as you can. This could include walking outside in nature, yoga, a recreational sport you enjoy, swimming, or a variety of other activities. Make exercise a practice you look forward to, not an action that you dread.

5. Healthy Eating

Just as important as an exercise routine is eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. By providing essential nutrients that support brain health and mood regulation, you are setting yourself up for a more balanced approach in supporting your mental health needs. There are several studies that assert the importance of eating healthy, including a decreased risk of developing depressive symptoms.

6. Acupuncture

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice involving the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, has also been shown to help alleviate depressive symptoms by promoting relaxation and restoring balance to the body’s energy flow. Many studies have been done on the effects of acupuncture on depression, showing a general trend of improved and more effectively managed symptoms.

7. Deep TMS

Another thing that you may not yet have considered trying for your depression is deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), a non-invasive brain stimulation technique that uses magnetic fields to target and stimulate areas of the brain associated with depression.

Studies suggest that dTMS can trigger alterations in neural pathways linked to the regulation of mood, resulting in lasting improved symptoms of depression. Furthermore, this therapy is typically well-received, presenting few adverse effects as compared with traditional depression treatments, such as medication management.

8. Stellate Ganglion Blocks

Stellate ganglion blocks, another alternative depression treatment, involves the injection of a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion, a cluster of nerves in the back of the neck. This insertion disrupts the body’s stress response and alleviates symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

While individual experiences may vary, some patients may experience a brief stinging or burning sensation at the injection site. However, this discomfort is usually temporary and mild, lasting only a few seconds. The procedure is often performed under local anesthesia or mild sedation to minimize any discomfort. Overall, the use of stellate ganglion blocks is generally well-tolerated, especially considering the potential relief it can provide from psychological distress.

Studies suggest that stellate ganglion blocks may help transform the sympathetic nervous system and alleviate symptoms related to trauma and depression.

9. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

If your depression is persistent but you haven’t tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), this may be an option for you to consider. HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which may help improve oxygen delivery to tissues, thus reducing inflammation, enhancing brain function, and offering benefits for depression treatment. Research has indicated that increased oxygen levels may have neuroprotective effects on brain function, which can contribute to improved mood.

10. Neurofeedback

Another thing worth checking out is neurofeedback therapy, which involves training individuals to regulate their brainwave patterns through real-time feedback by EEG sensors. This has the potential to address underlying brain dysregulation associated with depression, with research indicating its effectiveness in improving depressive symptoms in patients who are not responding to traditional methods alone.

Additionally, neurofeedback allows individuals a non-pharmacological way to approach their diagnosis without the unwanted side effects of medication. Neurofeedback is provided by a licensed mental health professional who will help guide you through any unique experiences or sensations that may arise throughout the process.

11. Ketamine Treatment

Ketamine is another alternative mental health treatment that has shown promising results in treating depression. A dissociative anesthetic, ketamine therapy has proven to be a rapid-acting antidepressant particularly useful in individuals with treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine infusion therapy involves administering a low dose of ketamine under medical supervision. The results of this treatment often manifest within hours to days, whereas conventional antidepressants may take weeks. As such, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for people looking for immediate relief.

12. Improving Sleep Habits

Prioritizing good sleep hygiene is essential when approaching your depression from a holistic vantage point. By maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimizing your sleep environment, you can vastly improve your sleep quality and positively affect your mood.

Seven to nine hours of sleep per night is the general recommendation for most adults. Sleep and mental health are also considered bidirectional, meaning they each impact one another and have an important role to play in sustaining the well-being of the other.

13. Abstaining from Alcohol

Alcohol can worsen depression symptoms and interfere with the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. Limiting or abstaining from alcohol consumption can support mental health recovery.

While many people may use alcohol to help cope with the overwhelming experiences of depression, it’s important to remember that it actually makes it harder to recover from persistent negative emotions. Replacing alcohol consumption with healthier habits is a good technique when trying to change your drinking behavior. Also, it can be helpful to avoid situations where you may be tempted to drink, such as attending certain social engagements and going to bars, clubs, or casinos.

14. Set Goals

Setting realistic and achievable goals, both short-term and long-term, can provide individuals with a sense of purpose, motivation, and direction, helping to combat feelings of hopelessness and apathy associated with depression.

Ask yourself: If I had no limitations (money, time, ability, access, etc.), what would my greatest aspirations be?

Then, be willing and brave enough to start taking small steps in the direction of those dreams. Try to look at any obstacles faced with a sense of curiosity and creativity. Call on others for advice and/or help in reaching your goals when needed.

Also, consider starting with smaller goals. Your goals can be as simple as walking 20 minutes a day or making sure you brush your teeth every evening. By regularly achieving small goals, you’ll be able to build up trust with yourself to tackle more challenging aspirations in the future.

15. Positive Self-Talk

Depression can come with its fair share of negative thought patterns. Challenge these negative beliefs by practicing self-compassion. Rewiring your brain can be immensely helpful when working to overcome recurring challenges of depression. By speaking to oneself nicely, individuals can cultivate a more positive and adaptive mindset, reducing the impact of depressive thinking patterns.

Consider using any of the following phrases and repeat them to yourself as many times as you’d like on a daily basis:

  • I love myself. I am loving and I am worthy of love.
  • I forgive myself. I am worthy of forgiveness.
  • I am kind and I work hard to be the best version of myself.
  • I have intrinsic worth and value. I do not need to do or be or say anything to be deserving of this value.
  • I allow myself to make mistakes and embrace myself for all of my flaws.
  • My existence is meaningful and important. I am needed in this world.
  • There are people who will love and accept me for who I am, even if I haven’t found them yet.
  • It’s OK to have a down day. That doesn’t mean my whole life will feel this way. My difficult feelings and experiences will pass.
  • I love and accept myself – depression and all. I will allow myself grace during difficult moments and accept that I may need more breaks than others from the busyness of life.
  • I am humbled to ask others for help when needed. I am strong for reaching out for help.
  • There is strength in my vulnerability and sensitivity.

Coming up with your own phrases can be extremely empowering and allows you to tailor your positive self talk to your unique situation and experiences.

16. Take Any Needed Supplements and Vitamins

It may be surprising to learn that more than ¼ of the world population is lacking in essential key vitamins and nutrients. There are also many studies that show the connection between a lack of these essential nutrients and a higher risk of depression.

It can be helpful to get regular blood panels from your healthcare provider to determine if you require any extra vitamins or supplementation to support your overall health and well-being. Additionally, you’ll want to consult your medical provider on any supplements you plan on taking, ensuring there are no contraindications with other medications or diagnoses you may have.

17. Equine Therapy

Another activity that may help your depression is equine-assisted therapy. This involves interacting with horses under the guidance of a trained therapist, promoting emotional awareness, self-confidence, and interpersonal skills, which can be beneficial for individuals struggling with depression.

One study reported decreased depression after six weeks of participation in equine-therapy. While many people may have dreamed of riding horses at some point in their life, not everyone may be aware of how impactful horses can be at supporting their mental health.

18. EMDR

While psychotherapy has already been discussed, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is worth mentioning in its own section. EMDR is a specialized form of psychotherapy that helps individuals process and resolve traumatic memories and experiences, which so often contribute to depressive symptoms. Studies have shown this to be a great long-term treatment for depression, which can also help with brain rewiring of negative experiences into more digestible, integrated memories.

19. Spending Time Outside

Spending time outdoors can offer numerous benefits for individuals struggling with depression. Exposure to natural light and vitamin D is an essential component in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, and can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

Additionally, being in nature provides a change of scenery from indoor environments, reducing feelings of isolation and monotony often associated with depression. Engaging in outdoor activities such as walking, hiking, or gardening also promotes physical activity, thus boosting endorphin levels. Many studies have shown the association between nature exposure and overall health. If you aren’t getting outside enough, make sure to change that!

20. Reach Out To a Support System

One of the biggest challenges that people with depression face is their tendency to isolate. Oftentimes, they believe that no one wants to be there for them or that no one understands. This can prevent the depressed person from reaching out.

However, it’s important to remember that help is available to those who ask for it. If you don’t have anyone you feel comfortable speaking to in your personal life, consider contacting a professional. It’s important to remember that you’re not in this alone, and it’s okay to need support to get you through the tough times.

Overcoming Depression – One Step At a Time

Living with depression can be challenging, but it’s essential to remember that help and support are available. By exploring different treatment options, making lifestyle changes, and seeking professional guidance, individuals can effectively manage their depression symptoms and improve their quality of life. Remember that recovery is a journey, and it’s okay to ask for help along the way.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to Plus by APN’s support network for assistance. Here, you can get connected with a therapist, medication management, and engage in a variety of alternative depression treatments, such as ketamine assisted therapy, neurofeedback, stellate ganglion blocks, dTMS, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and more. To speak to someone at APN, call 424.644.6486 or fill out the online contact form today.

With the right tools, resources, and support, it is possible to manage or even overcome depression and lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Everyone is worthy of that life and I’m rooting for you all.


  • “Acupuncture.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 Oct. 2023, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/about/pac-20392763.
  • Ahmadi, Fahimeh, and Ali Reza Khalatbary. “A review on the neuroprotective effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.” Medical gas research vol. 11,2 (2021): 72-82. doi:10.4103/2045-9912.311498
  • “Alcohol Use, Abuse, and Depression: Is There a Connection?” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/depression/alcohol-and-depresssion. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • “Antidepressants.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/9301-antidepressants-depression-medication. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • Armour, Mike et al. “Acupuncture for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of clinical medicine vol. 8,8 1140. 31 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/jcm8081140
  • Bachmann, Silke. “Epidemiology of Suicide and the Psychiatric Perspective.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 15,7 1425. 6 Jul. 2018, doi:10.3390/ijerph15071425
  • “Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • “Depressive Disorder (Depression).” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • Greeson, Jeffrey M et al. “Decreased symptoms of depression after mindfulness-based stress reduction: potential moderating effects of religiosity, spirituality, trait mindfulness, sex, and age.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 21,3 (2015): 166-74. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0285
  • Heckman, William. “12 Fun Mindfulness Exercises.” The American Institute of Stress, 10 Feb. 2021, www.stress.org/12-fun-mindfulness-exercises.
  • “How Much Sleep Is Enough?” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep/how-much-sleep#:~:text=Experts%20recommend%20that%20adults%20sleep,or%20more%20hours%20a%20night. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Depression: How effective is psychological treatment? [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430661/
  • Jimenez, Marcia P et al. “Associations between Nature Exposure and Health: A Review of the Evidence.” International journal of environmental research and public health vol. 18,9 4790. 30 Apr. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijerph18094790
  • Kerzner, Jaimie et al. “Stellate Ganglion Block for Psychiatric Disorders: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Research Landscape.” Chronic stress (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) vol. 5 24705470211055176. 8 Dec. 2021, doi:10.1177/24705470211055176
  • Krystal, Andrew D. “Psychiatric disorders and sleep.” Neurologic clinics vol. 30,4 (2012): 1389-413. doi:10.1016/j.ncl.2012.08.018
  • Lee, Young Ji et al. “Neurofeedback Treatment on Depressive Symptoms and Functional Recovery in Treatment-Resistant Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: an Open-Label Pilot Study.” Journal of Korean medical science vol. 34,42 e287. 4 Nov. 2019, doi:10.3346/jkms.2019.34.e287
  • Levkovitz, Yechiel et al. “Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation over the prefrontal cortex: evaluation of antidepressant and cognitive effects in depressive patients.” Brain stimulation vol. 2,4 (2009): 188-200. doi:10.1016/j.brs.2009.08.002
  • MacKenzie, Meagan B., and Nancy L. Kocovski. “Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: Trends and Developments.” Psychology Research and Behavior Management, vol. 9, 2016, pp. 125-132, https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S63949. Accessed 17 Feb. 2024.
  • Mandal, Suprio et al. “Efficacy of ketamine therapy in the treatment of depression.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 61,5 (2019): 480-485. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_484_18
  • Markowitz, John C, and Myrna M Weissman. “Interpersonal psychotherapy: principles and applications.” World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) vol. 3,3 (2004): 136-9.
  • “Meditation: What It Is, Benefits & Types.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17906-meditation. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • Murri, Martino B., et al. “Physical Exercise in Major Depression: Reducing the Mortality Gap While Improving Clinical Outcomes.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 9, 2018, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00762. Accessed 17 Feb. 2024.
  • Parmentier, Fabrice B R et al. “Mindfulness and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in the General Population: The Mediating Roles of Worry, Rumination, Reappraisal and Suppression.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 10 506. 8 Mar. 2019, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00506
  • “Preventing and Controlling Micronutrient Deficiencies in Populations Affected by an Emergency: Multiple Vitamin and Mineral Supplements for Pregnant and Lactating Women, and for Children Aged 6 to 59 Months.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/publications/m/item/WHO-WFP-UNICEF-statement-micronutrients-deficiencies-emergency#:~:text=More%20than%202%20billion%20people,%2C%20iodine%2C%20iron%20and%20zinc. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • Raypole, Crystal. “Benefits of Equine Therapy for Anxiety and How to Try It.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 Aug. 2022, www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/benefits-of-equine-therapy-for-anxiety#research.
  • Selvaraj, Ramaneshwar, et al. “Association Between Dietary Habits and Depression: A Systematic Review.” Cureus, vol. 14, no. 12, 2022, https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.32359. Accessed 17 Feb. 2024.
  • Wang, Yong T., et al. “Tai Chi, Yoga, and Qigong As Mind-Body Exercises.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, vol. 2017, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/8763915. Accessed 17 Feb. 2024.
  • “What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral. Accessed 16 Feb. 2024.
  • Wood, Emily et al. “EMDR as a treatment for long-term depression: A feasibility study.” Psychology and psychotherapy vol. 91,1 (2018): 63-78. doi:10.1111/papt.12145
  • Zielińska, Magdalena, et al. “Dietary Nutrient Deficiencies and Risk of Depression (Review Article 2018–2023).” Nutrients, vol. 15, no. 11, 2023, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15112433. Accessed 17 Feb. 2024.