General Question

Jude's avatar

Fighting depression/anxiety with meditation and exercise (no drugs)

Asked by Jude (31971 points ) October 4th, 2010

We’re not talking chronic depression here.

Your thoughts?

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26 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I guess I wonder why you feel the need to do it with no drugs. Unless you suffer from side effects from the medication.

Cruiser's avatar

I think it is a wonderful combination and I would add in an hour of Yoga as well. There are many tapes or yoga practices you can do geared specifically to help with depression and anxiety.

Start here and follow the many links for more on this….

tranquilsea's avatar

Exercise and meditation are two very key components to keeping yourself level when you suffer from depression and anxiety.

I, personally, never found antidepressants to be helpful. They just drugged me and the side effects were horrible.

Exercise, especially, tires you out which helps lift your mood and conquers anxiety in ways only a good benzodiazepine did for me.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think that makes more sense than the drugs. No personal experience, but the drugs would seem like a temporary fix and as soon as you stop your chemistry reverts back to the predrug status. If you can use meditation and exercise to conquer it, you’ve made yourself get better.

nikipedia's avatar

Why not all of the above? Take diabetes as an analogy: sometimes you can treat it with diet and exercise, but diet, exercise, and insulin together are often the best possible strategy.

JustmeAman's avatar

@Cruiser

Thanks for the link to Yoga I’m going to try and take that up along with some exercise and I want to expand my meditation. I think this is the very best way to beat depression and anxiety. Good Luck.

Thanks

weeveeship's avatar

Also, you can try art. Painting, playing music, and other arts could help you relax.

wundayatta's avatar

Certainly many people have done this. It works pretty well with situational depression. It can also work well with mild chronic depression. I think it’s a lot harder to use effectively when you have a serious depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very helpful with training your mind to fight off depression. Mindfulness training is equally helpful. Which works best for you is a matter of personality. CBT was horrible for me. It made me worse. Mindfulness has been really helpful.

I would not do this on my own. It’s fine to use mental techniques and exercise and yoga and meditation, but I would get some training and advice in how to make these things work for me. I hope the reason you want to do these things is not because you can’t afford health care.

Be very careful and monitor yourself (or have someone else monitor you). Depression, if it keeps coming around, gets worse and worse each time, according to my therapist. You may be in a mild depression now, but if you don’t learn how to control it, it will come back worse the next time. A few rounds of that, and you’re putting your life in serious danger.

Good luck!

tinyfaery's avatar

If your depression is based on circumstance and not chemical imbalance, then sure. But how do you know?

This is particular to you, because I know your situation. It seems to me you have been trying exercise and meditation for awhile and your depression has still not subsided. What does your new therapist say?

Why are you trying so hard to avoid medication, especially if it works? There is so much misinformation about psych meds and using them for treatment. Why would you let yourself suffer so long if there is a solution?

Cruiser's avatar

@JustmeAman Do learn how to do the breathing part of yoga called pranayama as that alone can help reduce stress and anxiety big time and best part is you can do it anywhere anytime.

mammal's avatar

Ah ok, keep at it. if you take medication as a last resort, be very wary of then coming off them, very dangerous.

tinyfaery's avatar

It’s not that bad. I’ve done it. Many times.

lemming's avatar

You should check out ‘Mindfullness meditation by Jon Kabat Zinn’ on you tube. He recommends this type of meditation for depression. To beat depression on your own without medication I would also recommend you take a fish oil suplement every day (I have heard it helps from several sources), get plenty of daylight, keep up with relationships, get involved in a meaningful hobby or job, even use affirmations and of course probably the most important thing is to get plenty of exercise, like you mentioned.

phoebusg's avatar

My answer is mostly already encompassed in the above. I would just stress the parts of the ‘equation’.

Diet + physical/body works + Cognitive/mental/emotional + Sleep management
Each of which is quite simple, but can be fairly descriptive when you go into detail. Check with a nutritionist, try to eat healthy but throughout the day. Smaller meals but more of them.
For your body, yoga + meditation combined (taking care of some mental exercise in the same moment) would be great. Just keep in mind our bodies were designed to be almost always in motion – our bodies communicate moods back to our brains – and that changes postures as well. Or you can try some yoga postures for happiness-induction. As per @wundayatta you can do CBT and/or mindfulness training and since you’re already considering meditation – you’re almost there. There are many types of meditation, do explore them for your information.
Managing your sleep – set up a calendar, find out how many hours you sleep and note how you feel when you sleep more or less. The mean is 7 hours, and healthy deviation is 1 hour dependent on age. But do tailor that to yourself, make sure you get proper sleep each day.

Self-monitoring is a great tool. I usually recommend this for friends: www.patientslikeme.com see if you could make use of that.

Think positive :)
Phoebus.

Disc2021's avatar

I would highly, heavily recommend it as opposed to taking drugs and antidepressants. There are plenty of different ways to do it to – try yoga, martial arts, biking, enter in/train to run marathons, etc. You’ll feel great and you’ll also be looking great =D.

Also, as mentioned before, try a form of art or music – any kind of outlet to fall back on does wonders for anxiety.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I use guided visualization as meditation to help me with my depression and other problems. It’s wonderful. It often helps me get quickly to the root of any questions I have that might be bothering me. I have to use the guided visualization, because my bipolar mind simply will not quiet itself enought to do the other type of meditation.

Exercise is probably the most important part of depression management that we can do as individuals. It works. It really does. I have clinical depression, and exercise is a main part of my routine. It helps even me.

I do have to take medication, but as I mentioned, my illnesses are diagnosed and are chronic. Without medical intervention, I get rapidly worse in a matter of days.

If you can manage without outside medical intervention and really feel better, then great! Go for it! Just remember that there is no shame in having to seek help from a doctor. If you do, they may tell you that you would not have to be permanently on medication.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I think it’s great that you want to handle this holistically rather than going straight to a pill. I try to avoid taking medications if I can, though anti-depressants typically don’t work for me. Meditation, yoga, and exercise are extremely helpful in lifting mood. I always thought it was a load of BS and just another way to get you to exercise, until I tried it.

I was very depressed and hating my life. I’d put on some weight and it made me even more unhappy, so I told myself there was no reason I couldn’t make myself walk for 30 minutes every day. I didn’t love it and I probably will never love exercise like some people do, but I tell you what, my mood improved by leaps and bounds. There were some days I had to force myself to do it, but the return for my efforts was well worth it. Honestly, just with 30 minutes of walking a day, I felt like I was taking an antidepressant!

autumnsunset's avatar

I take an anti depressant, not because I want to but because I need it. I suffered for a long time before getting help. If you need help, don’t be ashamed or critical of yourself in anyway. I certainly have noticed since I have started taking care of myself with proper eating and exercise that I am able to reduce my medicine (with doctors supervision) and feel a whole lot better. Meditation is also wonderful. I am a Christian so my meditation tends to be on God and His word. I do believe taking time out to relax is vital, whether reading, writing/journaling, spending time outdoors, or just enjoying a moment of quiet.

zophu's avatar

I see no reason to begin a dependence on drugs except as a last resort. Not that it’s an evil thing, it just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like jumping in a pool first thing when you’re thirsty.Tell your people that you want to try a few other things first and they’ll probably work with you on those things before further encouraging you to take a prescription.

YARNLADY's avatar

It depends on the underlying cause. If it should be handled by medication, than don’t refuse it. Don’t over look proper eating habits, along with meditation and exercise.

mandybookworm's avatar

I was depressed at one point. Meditation and counseling worked for me, as well as an outlet that I found through music. It depends on how bad the depression is though. If your feeling suicidal then, no, get medication.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

I do not like medications so I am all for trying other remedies. I was diagnosed bipolar when I was 18 and have never been medicated for it, and I never will be. My best friend has had some terrible experiences with anti-depression medications. She is now pre-diabetic, has insane food allergies, severe migraines and a host of other problems only after taking anti-depressants, so I am biased.

You could also look into chinese herbs, acupuncture, or other herbal remedies (St. John’s wort?) to supplement your meditation and yoga.

mollysmithee's avatar

There have been a number of studies that actually show that exercise can be comparative in efficacy to anti-depressants. I think it is a great first course of action to try alternatives to psychotropic drugs as you never know how you will react to these drugs. I really wish I had not been thrown a SSRI when I had my first depression. I understand that these drugs can be very helpful for some people, but it is a largely unknown fact that there are many, many people who either experience no change or develop worsened symptoms. I would make it a last course of action.

Jude's avatar

Update. The stress has lessened in my life and I no longer feel down.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Yay!! I’m glad to hear it. :)

Aster's avatar

While anti-depressants, SSRI’s, are good for the short term and could ward off a potential suicide, their side effects make them not good for long-term use. If someone is depressed for a long period of time they might benefit by counseling.
I knew a lady, wonderful person in her sixties, who was put on Prozac. It didn’t work so they added Zoloft and that didn’t work either.

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