Using complementary therapies to treat depression
Try some or all these therapies below to find out if an invigorating or relaxing therapy works best for you. Don’t abandon the therapy you have chosen when your depression eases. Keep it as a lifestyle therapy to help prevent recurrence.
The Alexander Technique
Mastering this gives you a powerful tool for dealing with anxiety and depression. The technique teaches people how to adopt the correct posture for all daily activities, which helps them develop an awareness of their bodies and how they move. By correcting their posture, they can avoid some of the aches and pains that are common in depression. Lessons in the technique are usually given individually and you can then use it on your own.
This is probably one of the most deliciously luxurious complementary therapies – even more so when combined with the aromatherapy oils of your choice. You can learn the chief techniques at evening classes or have massage therapy in some beauty salons, homeopathic clinics, naturopathic clinics and health spas. Professional massage is deeply relaxing and at the same time profoundly invigorating for it helps eliminate toxins through stimulating lymph drainage channels.
If you are going to use essential oils, choose soothing ones such as frankincense, geranium, lavender, neroli, rose, violet or ylang-ylang. Dilute them well with a carrier oil, such as sunflower or safflower.
It has been well documented that certain colors bring out certain moods. The theory of color therapy is that the body absorbs color in the form of electromagnetic components of light and then produces its own aura of electromagnetism. This gives off a pattern of vibrations that can be discerned by a trained color therapist. An unhealthy body and mind produces an unbalanced pattern of vibrations. The color therapist seeks to administer the color or colors that the sick person lacks in order to restore balance and harmony. Both depression and anxiety in its many forms can respond well to color therapy.
Chiropractic and osteopathy
These manipulative therapies are especially valuable for treating not only depression and anxiety but also their physical manifestations, such as headache, neck ache and back pain. Both manipulate the spine in order to alleviate physical stresses, eliminate toxins and boost flagging energy levels. Both these therapies often create a deep sense of well-being and relaxation.
Any therapy associated with water is likely to benefit people suffering from depression for water has uniquely calming properties. Hydrotherapy techniques boost circulation, which increases energy levels and rids the body of the toxins acquired through the erratic eating habits and sluggish lifestyle characteristic of depression.
Research into which types of exercise most benefited by people who suffer with depression shows Scottish country dancing at the top of the league. Psychologists believe that the combination of vigorous exercise, music and smiling combine to raise endorphin levels to an enviable high. It is very likely that other types of dance, notably South American dance, jazz dance and jive, will bring about similar benefits.
One of the chief elements of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is now increasingly accepted in the West. It is an excellent treatment for stress and anxiety, and tends to make people feel better. The acupuncturist painlessly inserts small sterilized needles – they range from 7 mm to 50 mm long – at key points on your body, situated along 12 meridians.
Reflexology is a form of specialist food massage. With firm pressure from the thumb, the reflexologist stimulates specific points on the sole of the foot that are connected via the nervous system to the body’s major organs. The practitioner works on the relevant meridian points in the feet for depression and anxiety, so that you feel lighter and more relaxed in mood, more energetic and free from aches and pains.
A medical herbalist can decide which herbs will benefits you and may prescribe an infusion, decoction or tincture.
Herbs used for depression and anxiety:
- St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Borage and vervain teas
- Infusion of lavender tops
- Tea of finely chopped poplar bark and gentian root with a little added agrimony and centaury
- Rosemary tea
- Infusion of lemon balm leaves
- Infusion of equal parts of skullcap and vervain
- Ginseng tea
Key Facts: Complementary therapies share the ability to reduce anxiety, boost flagging energy levels and induce a profound sense of well-being. There are other alternative therapies which may be helpful, such as acupressure, autogenic training and art therapy. The spine holds our skeleton together and when it is out of alignment or in pain, our emotional and physical health are compromised. Mind and body are inextricably linked.