As someone who has suffered from depression and who once again suffers from depression now, I can tell you that there are definitely ways to overcome your depression without medication.
Prior to this bout of depression I have been in for the last four months, I had been depression free since the summer of 2008. That last battle with depression lasted almost an entire year and I came very close to going on medication to fix the problem.
Through that whole ordeal, I tried so many things to get out of my depression. Most things failed, but some things worked and those few things that worked helped me to ultimately move on.
- One thing that made a dramatic difference for me was giving up alcohol. Right around the end of April of 2008, I decided to stop drinking completely. Prior to that, I had tried to use alcohol as a way to escape and just be with the crowd. But all that did was just make things worse. After about 3 weeks of giving up the booze, I noticed a huge difference. I was still depressed, but I was feeling so much better, both physically and emotionally. I don't know if you drink or not, but if you do, go ahead and lay off for a while.
- Another thing I did in the Spring of 2008 was join a support group via the counseling center here at my school. It was free through the school, so that really helped a lot. I stayed with the group for about 3 or 4 weeks until school got out for the summer. It was pretty depressing but helpful at the same time. Regardless of what other people's situations are, the ultimate ordeal that we all share is that we are suffering from depression. Being around others who are in your situation helps a lot. Listening to others' troubles can sort of help put yours in perspective. It's also a great way for you to be a part of another person's recovery. Knowing you've done something to help someone is a very rewarding and can help push you in the right direction as well. If you aren't already in one of these things and you have the time to join one, I encourage you to do so. If you are worried about what others might think of you because you join one of these things, don't. Your true friends will understand that you need help and will be supportive of your decision. Those who rag on you or give you a hard time for doing this are not your real friends.
- Another thing that helped was exercise. After school ended in May of 2008, I joined a local mom and pop fitness gym. It was one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Weight training and exercising paid off and by the end of the summer, I was in (at the time) the best shape of my life. Looking good and feeling good went a long way towards getting my head straightened out and was ultimately the thing that pushed me to getting out of the hell that I had been in for the last year. I also became very close friends with the couple who ran the gym.
I definitely understand that in these economic times, many people might not be able to join a gym. No worries. If your school has a rec center, go ahead and head out there and use the exercise facilities that are available. Treadmills, running paths, stationary bikes, weights -- it doesn't matter. Getting exercise is a very good way of recovering. Once again, I don't know your situation, but if you are able bodied enough to exercise, I highly encourage you to do so.
- I also radically changed my diet. During my depression, I was constantly wolfing down foods such as pizza, fries, burgers, etc. Those foods make you feel happy while you eat them, but ultimately, you end up feeling bloated, disgusting, and depressed. When I eliminated these foods from my diet and replaced them with simple, healthy foods such as apples, carrots, bananas, almonds, raisins, grilled chicken, brown rice, etc, I noticed a huge difference in both my physical and mental health. Again, in this economy, it might be a bit tough to do this, but try to do the best you can with your diet. Any little positive change that you make will move you closer to recovery.
There were some other things I did as well, but I don't want to make this post any longer than it already is. If you want me to share some more, I'd be more than happy to do so. I'm going through depression again right now, and after making many mistakes, I'm going back to my past to try and do some of those things that helped me beat depression without medicines.
Hope this helps and sorry for the length!