At this time of year, waiting for the sun in the northern hemisphere, it’s good to remind ourselves of 12 ways to heal depression naturally!

ways to heal depression

A little quiz for you. Which one of these is a misnomer?

  1. Antidepressant
  2. Chemical imbalance (in the brain)
  3. White chocolate

The answer is: all of them. Surprised? If you didn’t know, you’re not alone. There’s a reason these terms and ideas have taken hold in our collective conscious. All depression is not the same, and neither is anxiety. But Big Pharma has pathologized all feelings of sadness and nervousness, to our detriment.

This week’s episode of The Therapy Spot breaks down common misconceptions about the nature of anxiety and depression, and offers 12 ways to heal depression – naturally.


Click to Listen

I discuss quite a bit of research in this podcast, so I pulled together a list of articles you can access if you want to learn more.

I gave a brief overview of using Self Compassion as a natural prescription, but this blog post provides more information. I’ve also summed up the tips in this blog post called “A First Aid Kit for Depression and Anxiety” but bear in mind, it’s only a summary.

(I don’t discuss white chocolate in the podcast, however, so if you want to know more read the Wikipedia entry.)

Works Cited

Abrahamson, Daniel J., PhD, Lynne M. Hornyak, PhD, and Lynn P. Rehm, PhD. “Depression and How Psychotherapy and Other Treatments Can Help People Recover.” American Psychological Association. N.p., July 2010. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>. source information is taken from the PDF version of this webpage.

Amen, Daniel G. Magnificent Mind at Any Age: Natural Ways to Unleash Your Brain’s Maximum Potential. New York: Harmony, 2008. Print.

Antonuccio, David, and David Healy. “Relabeling the Medications We Call Antidepressants.” Hindawi Publishing Corporation. Scientifica, 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2015. <>.

Archer, Dale, MD. “Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression.” Psychology Today. N.p., 11 July 2013. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Ashkenazy, Tal, Haim Einat, and Noga Kronfeld-Schor. “We Are in the Dark Here: Induction of Depression- and Anxiety-like Behaviours in the Diurnal Fat Sand Rat, by Short Daylight or Melatonin Injections.” The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology Int. J. Neuropsychopharm. 12.01 (2008): 83. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Babyak, Michael, James A. Blumenthal, Steve Herman, Parinda Khatri, Murali Doraiswamy, Kathleen Moore, W. Edward Craighead, Teri T. Baldewicz, and K. Ranga Krishnan. “Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic Benefit at 10 Months.” Psychosomatic Medicine 62.5 (2000): 633-38. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Blumenthal, James A., Michael A. Babyak, P. Murali Doraiswamy, Lana Watkins, Benson M. Hoffman, Krista A. Barbour, Steve Herman, W. Edward Craighead, Alisha L. Brosse, Robert Waugh, Alan Hinderliter, and Andrew Sherwood. “Exercise and Pharmacotherapy in the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder.” Psychosomatic Medicine 69.7 (2007): 587-96. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Borchard, Therese J. “3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety.” World of Psychology. Psych Central, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Borchard, Therese J. “How Swimming Reduces Depression.” World of Psychology. Psych Central, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Brown, Sarah K., PhD, des Anges Cruser, PhD, Jessica Ingram, MPH, Mandy Jordan, PhD, and Sumedh Mankar, OMS-IV. “Effects of Utilizing Yoga Nidra on Reducing Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in a Psychiatric Population.” access date September 1, 2015.

Chen, Zhaoming, MD, PhD, CFP, FAAIM. “Mind-Body Medicine – Robert O’Block Blog –” Annals of Psychotherapy & Integrative Health Spring (2011): n. pag. 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 01 Sept. 2015. <>.

Cuda10, Gretchen. “Just Breathe: Body Has A Built-In Stress Reliever.” NPR. NPR, 10 Dec. 2010. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

“Exercise and Depression – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Hall-Flavin, Daniel K., MD. “Depression (major Depressive Disorder).” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Kasten, Erich. “Can Infection Give You the Blues?” Scientific American Mind Sci Am Mind 26.3 (2015): 46-49. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Lam, Raymond W., Anthony J. Levitt, Robert D. Levitan, Murray W. Enns, Rachel Morehouse, Erin E. Michalak, and Edwin M. Tam. “The Can-SAD Study: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effectiveness of Light Therapy and Fluoxetine in Patients With Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry AJP 163.5 (2006): 805-12. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Lilienfeld, Scott O., Kathryn C. Sauvigné, Steven J. Lynn, Robin L. Cautin, Robert D. Latzman, and Irwin D. Waldman. “Fifty Psychological and Psychiatric Terms to Avoid: A List of Inaccurate, Misleading, Misused, Am…” Frontier Psychology. Frontiers Media S.A., 3 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Aug. 2015. <>.

Messaoudi, Michaël, Nicolas Violle, Jean-François Bisson, Didier Desor, Hervé Javelot, and Catherine Rougeot. “Beneficial Psychological Effects of a Probiotic Formulation ( Lactobacillus Helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium Longum R0175) in Healthy Human Volunteers.” Gut Microbes 2.4 (2011): 256-61. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Morgan, D. “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A New Approach to Preventing Relapse.” Psychotherapy Research 13.1 (2003): 123-25. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Neff, Kristin. Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Nezlek, John B., Mark Imbrie, and Glenn D. Shean. “Depression and Everyday Social Interaction.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67.6 (1994): 1101-111. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Noorbala, A.a., S. Akhondzadeh, N. Tahmacebi-Pour, and A.h. Jamshidi. “Hydro-alcoholic Extract of Crocus Sativus L. versus Fluoxetine in the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depression: A Double-blind, Randomized Pilot Trial.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 97.2 (2005): 281-84. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Orenstein, Beth W. “Being Social: A Key to Depression Recovery – Major Depression – Guide to Living Well – Everyday Health.” Ed. Lindsay Marcellin. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Pies, Ronald W., MD. “Psychiatry’s New Brain-Mind and the Legend of the “Chemical Imbalance”” Psychiatric Times. UBM Medica LLC, 11 July 2011. Web. 22 Aug. 2015. <>.

Porkka-Heiskanen, T., K.-M. Zitting, and H.-K. Wigren. “Sleep, Its Regulation and Possible Mechanisms of Sleep Disturbances.” Acta Physiologica Acta Physiol 208.4 (2013): 311-28. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Reed, Justy, and Sarah Buck. “The Effect of Regular Aerobic Exercise on Positive-activated Affect: A Meta-analysis.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise 10.6 (2009): 581-94. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

“Sleep Deprivation and Depression: What’s the Link?” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Stein, Loren, MJ. “Depression Recovery: Keeping a Mood Journal.” HealthDay: News for Healthier Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Aug. 2015. <>.

Wilson, Neil, Michael Ross, Kevin Lafferty, and Russell Jones. “A Review of Ecotherapy as an Adjunct Form of Treatment for Those Who Use Mental Health Services.” J of Public Mental Health Journal of Public Mental Health 7.3 (2009): 23-35. Web. 31 Aug. 2015.

Wu, L.-L., K.-M. Wang, P.-I. Liao, Y.-H. Kao, and Y.-C. Huang. “Effects of an 8-Week Outdoor Brisk Walking Program on Fatigue in Hi-Tech Industry Employees: A Randomized Control Trial.” Workplace Health & Safety (2015): n. pag. Web.

Other Resources

Image credit

Heart Hot Air Balloon” by Flickr user Garrett Heath is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


(Original post date: 8 September 2015)