Depression can be a very serious condition, and even with a mild case, it’s important to seek a doctor’s advice. Many people with mild forms of depression, however, find it possible to go without prescription medication by shifting focus to more natural ways of dealing with depression. Always consult your doctor first when dealing with depression, but if you’re looking for alternative approaches, here are some effective approaches that may work for you.

Just 20 minutes of exercise can help release endorphins, body chemicals that reduce the feeling of pain.  Exercise can also trigger the production of more serotonin, the feel-good chemicals often found in actual prescription medication for depression.  Exercise often delivers better sleep, as the serotonin converts to melatonin, assisting the body’s natural clock.

To stay positive, many doctors suggest staying away from sweets and simple carbohydrates (e.g. rice, white bread), which spike your blood sugar, flood you with insulin, and cause your energy and mood to nose-dive.  Also, Scandinavian and Asian researchers have found lower rates of depression in their countries, because there, people eat more fish such as salmon and halibut, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory benefit.

For thousands of years, tinctures and powders including St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo Biloba, Rhodiola, Ashwagandhav, and Kava Kava have been used as remedies.  Some stabilize mood, others reduce anxiety and several boost energy. Many herbs can be very powerful, so it’s important to use as directed, and try small doses to start.

According to a study published in the National Institutes of Health, positive social interactions can increase your sense of well-being. Other experts say feeling like you belong or knowing you can confide in others creates feelings of security and safety, all of which can counteract depression and loneliness.

A long-time Eastern remedy to balance mood, meditation is gaining popularity in the Western world to relieve anxiety, sometimes in the form of “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” (MBCT).  A UK study found that a specific way of breathing and detaching from thoughts breaks the spiral into deeper depression.

The National Institutes of Health recommends medical help for moderate to severe depression that lasts longer than three weeks or if symptoms include panic attacks or thoughts of taking one’s own life.   Again, always consult with a doctor first about depression and an appropriate treatment for you.