Self Help Options For Depression

There are so many different options out there, self help and otherwise, for depression.

I was given a rule of thumb when assessing treatments for any particular condition.

If there are lots of treatments of all different types, then NONE of them work.

If one really did work, it would remove the need for all the others.

That’s a great starting point to increase your skepticism, and keep you wary of even the latest and greatest idea, but if you have the particular itch, you need to choose something to help you scratch it.

The method above doesn’t help you to decide WHAT to choose, and with the self help options for depression there is a very, very, very long list to choose from.

Fortunately someone has done a review for you.

Unfortunately this review is from back in 2002 (actually the data was taken from journals published up to August 2001, so that means the actual research was done last century, such is the natural time-lag of this type of information.)

Not surprisingly their most common finding is that the majority of self help options for depression don’t have enough decent evidence, and even the most studied ones don’t have as much support as…

“…antidepressants or face-to-face cognitive behaviour therapy, both of which are standard treatments recommended in clinical practice guidelines.”

But for what it’s worth here is their list of the depression self help options that are most likely to be beneficial:

“The [self help] treatments with the best evidence of effectiveness are St John’s Wort, exercise, bibliotherapy involving cognitive behaviour therapy and light therapy (for winter depression). There is some limited evidence to support the effectiveness of acupuncture, light therapy (for non-seasonal depression), massage therapy, negative air ionisation (for winter depression), relaxation therapy, S-adenosylmethionine, folate and yoga breathing exercises.”

They didn’t even get to Hypnosis, EFT, most other psychological therapies, and 1001 different options that have even less evidence in the medical and psychological literature.

However you can find out more on the 30+ ones they did cover, including the ones that didn’t make the grade, from their research paper:

Keep the skepticism pumping hard.

-Dr Martin Russell

5 thoughts on “Self Help Options For Depression”

  1. Yeah, the herbal extracts of St. John’s Wort promotes an increased volume of Serotonin in the bloodstream that relieves the symptoms of depression. Combine St. John’s Wort with the calming herb Passiflora creates a potent herbal supplement formula for depression.

  2. Maybe there should be an updated study done on self-help depression. While I believe exercise is an effective way of combating bouts of depression, other methods such as EFT and hypnosis should be made more known to others.

  3. Hi Jen,

    EFT has not been studied for depression as far as I know. I will be taking up Gary Craig’s suggestion from the comment he left on this blog to review the other studies of EFT, but depression treatment isn’t among them.

    Hypnosis is so many different things that any study done on it is largely irrelevant when you see an individual therapist who says they use “hypnosis”. Sometimes it is guided visualization, sometimes “ego-strengthening”, sometimes NLP, sometimes Ericksonian, sometimes quackery, and much, much more.

    Actually what is “depression” itself? That is kind of slippery as a concept too. The serotonin hypothesis is a whole lot of labels that cloud the issues more than clarify, at least in my opinion.

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