Usefulness Of Alternative Treatments For Depression

Alternative treatments for depression may prove helpful for you if used along with other therapies.                              

Some drugs and therapies other than the conventional pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy may help in depression. These therapies can either be used in addition to antidepressants or as an alternative treatment.

Anxiolytic drugs

Anxiety and insomnia are often encountered in depression; for such patients addition of an anxiolytic drug at the initiation of antidepressant therapy is quite useful. A low dose longer acting benzodiazepine (e.g. clonazepam 0.5mg once or twice daily) can be used. 

The withdrawal should not be abrupt and the dose should be slowly tapered off. To treat insomnia a low dose benzodiazepine can be used once daily at night. If you have panic disorder the use of benzodiazepine needs to be extended beyond two weeks.

Different studies have shown that combination of an antidepressants and a benzodiazepine as compared to antidepressant alone results in less depression severity and fewer drop outs.

Antipsychotic drugs

Sometimes depression is accompanied by psychotic symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, confusion and disturbance of thoughts; antipsycotics should be added to the drug regimen in a case like this. Commonly used antipsycotics include resperidone (0.5mg to 0.3) or olanzapine (2.5mg to 10mg) 

Herbal treatment for depression

European studies have shown that St. John's wort (hypercium extract) is effective in the short term treatment of depression with its efficacy comparable to tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. But it is not very effective in the treatment of severe depression.

You can use it as an alternative to conventional pharmacotherapy in mild depression but it is better not to use it in severe depression. Concurrent use with antidepressants must be avoided as it may lead to fatal serotonin syndrome.


Psycostimulants like dextroamphetamine, methylamphetamine, and methylphenidate can help when somnolence is associated with depression. They are used as an adjunctive therapy with antidepressants.

Antiglucocorticoid treatment

Oral supplementation with the adrenal androgen dehydroepiandrosterone have been shown to be beneficial in some patients but there is limited evidence on long term effectiveness and safety. They may cause hirsutism and acne in women.


Triiodothyronine have been used in past for patient in which there is no response to initial treatment with antidepressants but routine use of thyroid hormone supplementation without clinical evidence of hypothyroidism is not recommended.


Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can have a good effect on a patient of depression but it cannot be used as the sole treatment.

Light therapy

Different studies have shown that bright light therapy reduces the symptoms of depression in non seasonal depression with its efficacy comparable to pharmacotherapy but more research is needed on this subject.

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