Treat Depression Without Medication: Interview with Jonathan Robinson and Book Giveaway

Happy Woman Throwing Leaves

Update: The winners for this giveaway have been chosen. They are: Marsha Law and Talya Price.

I experienced my first bout of depression at twelve years old, and by seventeen I so frequently felt despondent that my boyfriend questioned if I could go one day without crying. I could not.

My life became a series of self-destructive habits, from binging and purging, to drinking, to cutting myself—the first two to numb my feelings, and the last to feel something, a pain of my own choosing, which somehow felt like relief.

In my senior year of high school, I was prescribed medication—and then another, and another, and another after that.

At one point, I took seven different daily pills, some to offset the side effects of others. Sure, I didn’t feel as depressed, but that’s because I rarely felt anything. I now had bulimia in pill form, because quite frequently, I was numb.

I may have been treating the symptoms, but I wasn’t addressing the root cause—at least not effectively. I was in therapy, but I believed my depression was chemical, and that there was no hope of relief without antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and tranquilizers.

It certainly didn’t help that someone in my life (whose actions likely contributed to my depression) would frequently say, “What’s wrong? Forget your meds?” whenever I expressed healthy, normal emotions in response to mistreatment.

But that was my lesson to learn—that it was okay to feel my feelings, and if I did, I could learn from them what really caused my depression.

While I still experience sadness from time to time, as we all do, I have been medication-free for over seven years, and I have a number of tools—including meditation, deep breathing, and physical exercise—that help me stay relatively balanced and emotionally healthy.

I know that everyone’s experience is different, and I also believe medication can serve a purpose in treating mental illness. Please know that I am not suggesting that no one should be on medication, and that anyone who is should stop taking it cold turkey.

But I believe we are vastly overmedicated, on the whole, and often at the expense of treating the underlying issues that lead to depression.

And I believe this is because it’s most profitable to treat depression in pill form, and to convince people they have a chemical imbalance that will need lifelong pharmaceutical treatment.

But there are other options—and one pioneer in the field, Jonathan Robinson, has dedicated his career to helping people learn to utilize them.

In this interview, he shares a little about his latest book, Find Happiness Now, and his new program, From Sad to Glad: How to Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression and Feel Happy Again.

This interview contains a giveaway. To enter to win one of two free copies of Find Happiness Now, leave a comment below sharing something that always helps improve your mood. For an extra entry, tweet or Facebook the following:

Learn how to treat depression w/out medication & enter to win a free copy of Find Happiness Now by Jonathan Robinson

You can enter until Thursday, November 20th at 12:00AM.

Before you read any further, I’d like to once again highlight what I wrote above: I know that everyone’s experience is different, and I also believe medication can serve a purpose in treating mental illness. I am not suggesting that no one should be on medication, and that anyone who is should stop taking it cold turkey.

I’m merely presenting an alternative approach, as I wish this information had been available to me years ago.

1. I know that you’ve reached over 250 million people through your work, and that you’ve spent over three decades studying the most practical and powerful methods for personal development. What originally motivated you to pursue this kind of work?

I was fortunate to have grown up in a highly dysfunctional and violent family. I say “fortunate” because, by age twelve, I was severely depressed by my life’s circumstances.

I started to look for anything that might help me deal with the pain and violence I was surrounded by. I turned to self-help books, and through such books, I found hope that my life could be made better if I did something different. After all, I couldn’t change my family, but I could change myself.

By age thirteen, I was into hypnosis, meditation, and reprogramming my subconscious. I guess you could say I had an early mid life crisis, and once I saw that certain methods really worked, I ended up making a career of teaching others what I had learned.

2. In your latest book, Find Happiness Now, you share fifty ways we can bring more love, joy, and balance into our lives. Can you share some of the simplest tools from your book—things anyone can do every day to increase their joy?

Different methods work for different types of people. That’s why I offer a lot of methods. However, studies show that some techniques work for almost everyone. For example, performing an act of kindness for a stranger or a friend immediately boosts your own level of happiness.

Also, I encourage people to schedule time each week to do activities that make them feel wonderful. That might be a walk with a friend or time to go out dancing. In this crazy busy age we live in, sometimes people forget to do what truly brings them joy.

By scheduling quality time and experiences each week, it helps us to be our best. As for me, one of my favorite things to do is to think of three things each day that I could feel grateful for. I also like to rub my dog’s belly and tell her how much I love her. She likes it too.

3. You recently launched a powerful program called “From Sad to Glad: How to Overcome Stress, Anxiety and Depression and Feel Happy Again.” Can you tell us a little about the program and what makes it unique?

Sure. It ends up that about 10 percent of the U.S. population is on antidepressants—despite the fact that studies show that these medications work no better than placebos for the vast majority of users.

In addition, they have plenty of negative side effects, they cost a lot, and are bad for your long-term health. Therefore, I teamed up with well-known physician Dr. Emmett Miller to create a program for helping people overcome stress, anxiety, and depression without having to take medications.

In the program, we offer all the best scientifically proven methods that help people to immediately feel better. The program is very holistic, meaning we provide people with methods for their mind, body, spirit, and relationships.

We even suggest a lot of healthy supplements people can take that really work, and methods that can be done in under a minute a day that can dramatically improve your mood.

It is the only holistic home study course for easily overcoming stress, anxiety, and depression in a simple, step-by-step manner.

4. It’s interesting to see both “sad” and “depression” within the program name, since many people would say that there’s a big difference between being sad and depressed. Can you tell us what differentiates the two?

Sadness happens to everyone from time to time. We each face loss and various challenges, and sadness is often a normal and healthy reaction to such difficulties. Yet, when a person is sad for a long time, and/or has a hard time functioning effectively due to how they feel, you can say that depression has set in.

Depression is sometimes triggered by challenges, but sometimes its causes are not so clear.   When a person becomes depressed, it’s important that they seek help—or else their health, relationships, finances, and day-to-day life will continue to suffer, or perhaps even get worse.

5. In your experience, what have you found to be the most common causes of depression?

Depression is often triggered by a stressful life event, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or even something like the loss of a job. Or one might have a genetic predisposition, or a hidden health challenge that can lead to depression. Often, there are many factors that lead to depression, which is why antidepressants tend to not be an effective long-term treatment for people.

In the “From Sad to Glad” program, we attend to the six most common factors that lead to depression—so that one’s recovery from it can be faster and more lasting.

6. How do Americans rate in terms of depression compared to other nations, and why do you think so many Americans are on antidepressants?

Americans seem to be rated #1 or #2 of industrialized nations in being depressed. I think this is partly due to the breakdown of family and community, and that our ways of dealing with depression are largely ineffective.

Drug companies spend billions of dollars in marketing, convincing us that the best way to overcome depression is with antidepressants. When given the choice between a pill or just being depressed, people choose a pill—even if that pill is mostly ineffective, expensive, and has nasty side effects.

That’s why it’s important that people become aware of effective methods for overcoming depression that don’t require medications.

7. How did you come across the methods described in the program, and how effective are they?

Dr. Miller and I came across our approach to depression and anxiety by working with thousands of people and seeing what worked, as well as reading about effective methods in journals and self-help books. Also, in our younger years, both Dr. Miller and I suffered from depression, so we saw what worked for ourselves.

As I mentioned before, different techniques work for different types of people, but research indicates that various methods that we detail in our “From Sad to Glad” program have a higher rate of success than medications.

For example, high rates of success have been found for overcoming anxiety and depression using CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), as well as specific supplements and certain types of exercise.

When you use more than one approach at a time (as we suggest), the success rates tend to be even higher, and results tend to be even faster.

8. Can you share one of the methods that people have found to be the most helpful?

There are so many methods that it’s hard to choose just one. Yet, some of my favorite methods are ones that take under a minute to do.

For example, we have guided meditations that can help people immediately tap into feelings of energy, confidence, and passion.

In one of our guided meditations, we have listeners focus on a person, child, or animal they have great affection for, and have them focus on times they felt great care and appreciation for this being.

By giving people an experience of love and affection, the feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression can often quickly melt away.

9. I know you’ve interviewed some inspiring people in doing research for some of your books. What did you learn from your interview with the Dalai Lama about happiness?

The Dalai Lama said something that really struck me. He said, “Kindness is my religion.” He also said, “Happiness is our birthright. The purpose of life is to be happy.”

Some people think happiness is a selfish thing, but research shows that happy people are the most giving and productive people in the world. It’s hard to be a good partner, parent, or employee if you don’t feel good. Therefore, I think it’s key that people learn how to be happy, and from their happiness, they can better spread their kindness and good feelings to others.

10. What is the most important thing you want people to get from your program?

I want people to get that with the right ideas and methods, anyone can learn to naturally overcome their anxiety and depression and feel better. In addition, I want folks to know that by working on themselves, they’ll be helping everyone they care about to become happier and healthier as well.

You can find Jonathan’s book, Find Happiness Now, on Amazon, and learn more about his program, From Sad to Glad here.

Happy woman throwing leaves image via Shutterstock

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Dagu

    Medication has helped me a great deal along with family, friends. Tiny Buddha has been my companion out of depression and I’ve spent countless hours finding comfort in the articles knowing that I wasn’t alone in my struggle. Depression hasn’t completely left me and I live under its scary shadow every day but hope I will be able to go back to normal for good one day..

  • Flo

    I think we greatly underestimate the power of nature – and by that I mean nothing more than getting outside and breathing in fresh air. Winter is the hardest but most important time of year to force yourself outside to marvel at the little things such as birds, icicles and plants. Whilst beautiful and amazing, nature also demonstrates a determination to keep going no matter what life throws at it and that’s pretty inspiring.

  • Autumn

    Wow, I love this. When I was in the midst of suicidal depression, so many people told me to just go on medication. Instead of taking the time to really get to the heart of my depression, the people around me all insisted that I take a pill. Not only did they think it would be easier for me, but it would be easier for them. However, I always felt like there was a way, even if I had to fight for it, that I could get better without resorting to pharmaceuticals. I’m so happy I never gave in. Even though the fight was nearly unbearable, I survived. And not only did I survive, I found I could overcome the challenges of life without relying on medication. I have a lot of respect for anyone with mental disease who makes the brave decision to change his or her life, including if that means medication, but I am overjoyed to find people like me who don’t want to depend solely on medication.

  • abdurahman

    great !
    thanks mr. jonathan robinson for your great book .. and for this wonderful interview ..

  • coleslaw

    One idea that comforts me is that as you travel through life and pick up all the little scars that the journey throws at you, it gives new meaning to the good.

    When I was a kid and I looked at a piece of art it was simply a pretty thing but now after coming through my depression I find so much strength, comfort and MEANING in cinema, poetry, music.

    Where a friend was once a commodity, a source of diversion, a drinking buddy – now I find real joy in connecting to those close to me.

    And I know that no matter what life throws at me in the future, I’ll find solace here on earth, the place from which every single reference point for my conception of beauty or love or happiness comes from.

    The sadder the tragedy the better these biggie records will sound.

    So universe, do your worst. I don’t give a shit.

  • Thank you so much for this amazingly timed article Lori & Jonathan… I’m currently trying to battle depression sans medication 😉 I am focusing on holistic methods and yoga and meditation are my go-to’s for improving my mood! I also have a Pinterest board of inspiring images and quotes for instances when I don’t have time for yoga or the privacy I prefer for meditation. For a quick “happy-shot” 🙂 I am also seeing a therapist to help me with my journey. I have a question though… my family doc is trying to convince me to take anti-depressants for a “boost”, arguing that the holistic methods take too long to start being effective and so I should take meds in the meantime for 6 months to a year. What are your thoughts on that? I prefer not taking the meds, but I don’t want to be stubborn… I trust my doc, but we can’t seem to agree on this. Thanks! Have a wonderful day 🙂

  • Donna@Gardens Eye View

    I have been working on Living From Happiness and found that writing/journaling at my new blog (of the same name) has helped me…of course being in nature is a wonderful place to find bliss and solace.

  • Jennifer Rose Nelson

    Something that always improves my mood…
    Writing down five things I’m grateful for or participating in a “grateful exchange” text with a friend.
    Listening to ambient/chill music while centering my thoughts on gratitude.
    Pet therapy!!!

  • Kristen Mastel

    I walk a mile to and from work, and this allows me time to decompress from work and focus on home.

  • Julie C. Perry

    Thanks for this. It’s nice to get the info out there that we don’t need meds to help ourselves feel better. Thanks for the tips. Meditation and breathing techniques help a lot.

  • Sarah Beara

    After years of being bounced around on different medications – I feel better being off of them. It seems that they never helped the issues but helped me avoid them. Years later I’ve found exercise, meditation, and looking for the silver lining in bad situations have really helped. I’m a work in progress. I love all of me.

  • ccrgirl

    Thanks for this article!
    When I want to improve my mood, I usually go for a long walk, dance, sing, read inspirational books/articles.

  • Hannah

    I loved this post. I think it’s important to remember that there is so much more to healing ourselves than taking medication and that we have a lot of power within ourselves. I know I sometimes forget… I have been taking antidepressant for about a year now and they were great in the beginning as they helped me stabilize and get more energized. I have been making a ot of changes since then and now I find myself thinking about going off my meds. It scares me at the same time. Thoughts like “What if I didn’t change or learn anything at all and simply felt better because of the medication?” come to my mind then. I know deep down it’s not true but I guess I need at little more time and probably professional support.

    As for what always helps me feel better and what was a significant part of my recovery from depression and anxiety – there are a couple things that I try to integrate in my daily life.
    Being creative always makes me feel better, especially painting and writing. It’s a great way to express yourself and helped me a great deal in handling my emotions.
    Sharing how I feel also makes me feel better. I used to never talk about why I felt sad or anxious or why I hated myself. Now I try to more open. It reminds me that there are people who care, people who maybe feel the same way and while doing that I found that I am not alone.
    Spending time in nature, going for a walk, grounding myself in my body through meditation or yoga is incredibly soothing as well although I often underestimate its magical power. Dancing and singing out loud to my favorite songs helps me when I start to get lost in my head, it’s a way to remind myself that I don’t need to take anything so serious. 🙂
    I think what had the greatest impact on my life is that I vowed to be my best friend, to treat myself kindly no matter what to, to encourage myself instead of putting myself down, and to trust myself. Knowing that I have my back made me less afraid and even though there are times when I forget and start criticising, judging or berating myself, I become more and more aware and start replacing harsh words with gentle nudges and hugs.

  • Sara Rose

    A good “escape” book that brings me to a geographical region/season/etc. I want to be in….always helps 🙂

  • vfulco

    exercise is a critical component, even during our worst times, a little bit will boost spirits incrementally.

  • jaz

    Honestly the most effective mood lifter for me is spending time with my two dogs. When I arrive home at the end of the day, their enthusiasm is absolutely contagious! No matter how down I am feeling, they always help my mood!

  • Sentinus

    My son is my single greatest source of joy. However I continue to struggle with what is now being called “treatment resistant chronic depression”. I have spent most of my life dealing with this problem and while I know some of the sources of this I am no closer to putting it in remission (for lack of a better term).

  • BritSteve

    Thanks for the post and the interview. Very interested in learning how to deal with my depression. I find the best way to feel better is to give my dogs some love and attention. They love back, and it clears some of the fog.

  • Karri

    Ways to improve mood: I try and see things in degrees of strength rather than degrees of weakness. When we see things (persons, places, etc.) for all of their strength and beauty we, in turn, fill our hearts with love. It’s not always easy and it takes practice and perseverance, but it ALWAYS turns a sour mood into a smile.

  • Ame

    Thank you. I am currently on a major cocktail of antidepressants and mood stabilizers and all I feel is depressed and worthless. The only thing keeping me going is my new granddaughter. I would love to chuck the Prozac, Abilify, Klonopin, and whatever else and just be me, but I am “caught in the system”.

  • Alex

    I was going through a very hard time in my life, so hard that at times I couldn’t find strength to get out of bed. It was a very depressing time. So instead of waiting on time to heal me (A prescription almost everyone is willing to prescribe) I decided to seek healing. I was never open to prescription drugs but I was considering it. Instead I decided to pick up a few books and turned to holistic herbs. I read “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale and it changed my life. I started applying some of the techniques from the book and my outlook changed drastically. I also started taking St. Johns Wort (I have never believed in holistic herbs but my sister who is a nurse suggested it). after taking it for about 2 weeks, I really noticed a big difference in my mood. I still am in mental anguish some days but I am in a way better spot then when I first started. So rather than waiting to feel better, don’t be afraid to take matters in to your own hands to speed up the healing process.

  • Vanessa

    When I had a dog, playing with her immediately helped my mood (I hope to be getting another soon). I also find helping others brings me joy, as well. There’s something about getting outside of myself that really shifts things for me. I’ve been medication free for 5 years and have used acupuncture, herbs, energy work, mindfulness, breath work, and yoga to support balanced emotional/mental/spiritual health.

  • Argus

    A change of scenery always helps me. A change in the location where I work, a new project or a new team to work in. Routine seems to set off more depressive events as it seems to reinforce status quo. A change gives hope.

  • heatherms2k

    Thanks for sharing! I have been going through a lot of changes in the past 2-years and the one thing that has helped me the most, besides my amazing therapist, is meditation. Through meditation I have been able to quiet my mind and focus on the little things. It reminds me to stay in the present moment and not worry about the future.

  • Dena Coots

    This message is so timely for me. Thank you for sharing this. For me personally I have recently discovered the power of yoga, meditation, and learning to be grateful as the most powerful forces to fight depression. I can’t wait to read these books as well.

  • HappyP14

    Thank you!!! Whenever I am sad I dig really deep down and write a list of ten things I am grateful for, even if it is as simple as “I am so happy and grateful for the food I eat..”
    I try to do this outside because when I am in nature or even in the middle of a city, outside, I don’t feel alone. By the end of the list I am always smiling!
    My husband is seriously depressed and I do my best to get him to do this, but I think he would be able to absorb it more if he were to get lost in this brilliant book!

  • Jeanette_E

    One thing that always helps improve my mood is a walk with my dog. The hard part is forcing myself to go when I’m not feeling it, but once I ask him if he wants to go, I can’t back out. The exercise and fresh air help, but so does seeing him having fun. Being responsible for him and my other rescued animals is one of the few things that keeps me functional. I am interested in learning more about Mr. Robinson’s work.

  • Siren

    Snuggling my cat is sometimes the only thing I can do.

  • Rose Gates

    I focus on my blessings every day and actively push negative thoughts from my brain to avoid a downward spiral. I say my personal affirmations out loud while looking in the mirror.

  • thirteen

    Much like most of us who have read and connected with this post, I have had the cloud of depression around me for as long as I can remember. I tried all the escape routes of alcohol and sex as a teenager, high levels of busy-ness through my twenties and thirties. I moved a lot, jumped from one relationship to another, worked out & ran and changed jobs every couple of years. I had life-level ADD ’cause if I sat still for thirty seconds it just hurt.

    It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with MS in my forties and was forced to sit still, that I began to understand that I couldn’t escape me and so I’d better learn to enjoy being with myself or it was going to be a long sh*tty rest of my life.

    After a couple of years of yoga, walking (not running or pushing myself as hard as I could), a lot of time by myself, constantly giving myself permission to slow down, and a new filtering process for decision making – why do I want to do this – escape or healthy challenge? I was able to drop the anti-anxiety/depression meds and wade through six months of tortuous withdrawal.

    Appreciating, doing something for a stranger, petting my cat, being creative, having a laugh with a friend all help but the urge to paste ‘busy-ness’ over everything is a constant. The urge for the ego stroke, to have others see me as successful is still a constant. Its the little, daily, healthy habits that I have created that keep me on track, and for someone who previously raged against routine this has been a significant learning curve.

    Each month, each year is a little easier than the last as I come to terms that every decision I make will either make me stronger and happier or weaker and sadder. Today I am writing to my sister, eating well, and going to yoga. Today I choose happier!

  • Jules

    Thank you for the great read. It’s so timing because I believe I’m boarderline depressed. One thing that does help me when I recognize I’m slowing drifting into my dark moods is, exercising. I distract myself with physical activity (even though I hate it) so my mind can stop from whatever it is about to do. I get up and walk, or start doing jumping jacks, anything from sitting down and thinking/feeling. Right after my quick exercise, I tell myself something positive. As you’ve mentioned above, bring in good feelings of love and acceptance to drive out the depress feelings. This process has helped me get through difficult times however, I also noticed it’s a challenge every time. Try to do a variety of things so you can engage your mind differently each time.

  • Leighby

    I am inspired to fight harder for me! Reminded by this interview &
    simple words that only I can create the change for me, for my day to day
    coping and to believe and feel that I deserve and can achieve a
    brighter, more “at peace” future. I can’t change my past, I can’t change
    other people, but I can help myself find the methods that work for me
    to allow me to stop being another customer waiting for my prescription,
    and own my recovery and healing. I can’t wait to feel whats real again,
    and manage!

  • Rachel Medlock

    What a wonderful post. Something that always improves my mood is to walk outside, and simply look up. The huge, amazing world we live in inspires me.

  • Something that helps me improve my mood is singing along with a song that really pumps me up.

  • nryerson

    Listening to fun songs from when I was a teenager always cheers me up.

  • Kat

    I take anti-depressants; they have helped me immensely and I definitely feel they have a place but I agree, it is also important to make changes to your lifestyle. Economically I am poorer as I work part time but I am richer in that I have more free time and less stress. I also try to get lots of fresh air and eat healthily. Sure pills alone cannot and will not cure you but they can definitely ease your journey. As always, it’s a case of different strokes for different folks I guess.

  • Beth

    This is a great article. Something that always cheers me up is a walk with my dog.

  • netc23

    doing art.

  • Jennifer Nolan

    Writing helps me. I was able to come off medication, and have been off it for two years’ now with the help of writing: Journal writing and fiction writing – any kind of writing helps me to understand why I feel the way I feel and how better to manage.

  • Kelsey

    I’ve struggled with depression for over a decade , the majority of the time I’ve been on antidepressants. While I won’t argue that at times I think they have lessened my suffering, they are definitely not a cure. During times when I really struggle I like to read articles or blogs online that relate to what I’m experiencing, this helps me feel like I’m not alone. Tiny Buddha has been a great resource for me . Thank you for this Article , I definitely plan on looking into the book and program mentioned.

  • BK

    I meditate daily, speed walk three times a week and practice yoga – all of which help with depression besides medication. Almost daily, when I see people on the street or in the subway holding a map/book and looking around, I go over to them and ask where they want to go; I meet many people from round the world and often this gives me an opportunity to practice my Italian, French and German. I almost always feel good after assisting these ‘lost’ people, they get to their destination and have a feeling that Americans are friendly and I feel good that I’ve met interesting people and helped them in a new/strange city.

  • Talya Price

    I am battling suicidal depression at the moment. I find meditation and going into nature to lift my moods, sometimes a funny movie helps. I want to live, I want to live a happy life but I feel that there is no hope left for me. I have tried medication and it simply does not work, only numbs the pain for awhile. Thank you for posting this article it has helped me a little.

  • Rob

    The best tools I have found to fight depression are running and getting into “flow” experiences. Flow jus when challenge and skill level meet so that you are engaged and challenged but simultaneously able to perform and execute without too much effort. This puts us into a meditative state of heightened awareness and relaxation. I get this through climbing and running. Dance is another way to tap into flow. There are many ways. Art, music, performance, sports.

  • Sheryl “of a certain age”

    Sometimes reading something funny helps me, other times it is “dancing” in the car to happy tunes. I love to watch sunrises or sunsets, or birds at my birdfeeder. Petting animals, or snuggling them, hugs from friends.
    I truly appreciate this article – so timely for me, and I hope for many others!

  • Tracy Zoe

    I have found that my dogs have always been a great source of comfort. Dogs have been consistently in my life since I was a newborn. They will give so much back and expect so little. I find as I am going through a very difficult time now that when I get home and they are so happy it does lift my mood.

  • Kate

    Riding my push bike to my favourite seat by the mouth of a river and watching the waves, the birds, the dogs and their walkers and seeing how the sand changes the way the river flows out to the sea always, always lifts my spirits. Sometimes I journal while I’m there and sometimes not. I’m always reminded that I can be like a wave and just gently keep trying until a find away around, over or past an obstacles in my life

  • bd

    My old reliable go-to has always been music – listening and especially playing. Blasting something upbeat or pounding can get my endorphins flowing more than any run or workout. And playing, well the level of concentration required drives a lot of unnecessary thought right out of my head. And that can be a good thing 🙂

  • Stacy

    Cleaning my house helps me when I’m feeling really upset. It’s like I’m mentally cleansing myself at the same time. Watching my fav sport on TV helps…reading to take my mind off things helps…but exercise is probably the best thing to do…

  • Tracy

    Knitting and sewing improves my mood. I feel good creating something beautiful. On top of that my cat gives me company because he likes crafty things.

  • Shingo

    Awesome! Very true and wonderful!! I was taught from a dear friend and physician that gave me the choice, medication or meditation? I chose the one with least side effects though probably harder but had longer lasting effects. It wasn’t easy but something I worked real hard to overcome my anxiety & depression. I am forever grateful for this holistic western trained MD that remembered why he became a healer. Always be in the moment. Try not to hold on to your past or worry about the future. Be hear in the now. Be mindful! His lasting advice was always take your M.E.D.S (Meditation, exercise, diet, and sleep). 🙂

  • lizacat29

    I am glad to see more resources available and encouraged for people who have depression than just medication. I fell into depression, not knowing anything about it or about the issues that brought it into my life. Life simply became grey and awful. My doctor at the time said I demonstrated most of the criteria for depression and got me on an antidepressant. And, voila!, I was fine. But I wasn’t …for 10 years I never cried a single tear. I never got very excited or happy. Both ends of my emotional spectrum were blunted and neutral. I never had a chance to explore the real roots of my depression…so they simply sunk into my subconscious where they fermented and twisted and grew. I finally decided to get off. You have to taper off and I was down to a miniscule dose when I exploded. I tore apart my marriage of 38 years, left my home,, angered and hurt my family and started all over again. I am only now, 5 years later beginning to understand what happened. But I am happy, I am more alive than I have been since my childhood, and I haven’t taken one single antidepressant pill in all 5 years. Many things helped. I began caring for my elderly parents, I experimented with several relationships and lifestyles. I got counseling. I now open up to my friends and show them who I really am, warts and all. I ask for help. I state my needs and opinions. I walk. I do yoga. I meditate. I read. I do nice things for myself. I take little trips and a few big trips. I make art. If something or someone is making me unhappy, I make changes. I take responsibility for my own happiness. That’s the big picture.

    The little picture…day to day living. Art every day. Yoga or walking every day. A yoga class or even a few sun salutations can make a huge difference. I am learning to live more in the NOW. This is the newest for me. I am starting by just trying to be mindful of when I slip back to worrying over the future, or grieving or feeling guilty about the past. Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard sometimes. But it’s working for me. I used to think that antidepressants saved me when I was going downhill fast…but now I wonder what would have happened if I would have faced what was going on 15 years ago. But that’s looking back…

  • Kylie Sheather

    Depression is something that a lot of countries need to spend more money on, under Mental Health. There is not enough support or treatment available.

    As a teenager and into my early twenties I suffered from depression, trying to end my life twice (both times I was luckily helped by others). I then entered into married life, had a child, and couldn’t believe my happiness. Then I had a second child, and my mood spiralled downwards. It was only the love I felt for both my children that stopped me from doing anything, like I had done before. I tried drugs, and found that they actually made me feel worse. Exercise, and meditation have helped me so much, and I highly recommend both of these to people that feel down.

  • Even if it feels like the hardest thing in the world — taking my dog for a long walk usually helps me loosen up the sadness and let the light in.

  • rissole77

    I have seeked help in the form of Dialectal Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness.

  • MAB

    Some thing that has helped me boost my mood is to call up a really trusted, loving friend who knows me through and through and who I know never judges, to listen, and to maybe have a good cry, or talk through a problem.

  • Jane

    Going for a walk outside and listening to music helps me lift my mood

  • Corinne

    I love listening to the podcast pray-as-you-go before I go to sleep. It helps to hear inspiring music and God’s word and time to think about it!

  • Thea

    There’s a window over my bed so to perk up my mood, I will open it, pull all the curtains back, and curl up in bed under the sun shining in. Like a cat. The warmth from my comforter and the sun make me feel good.

  • Gill

    There is one simple practice that is beneficial for me when I am in moments of feeling down and that
    is to listen to the soundtrack of the movie and Broadway show Mamma Mia. The music by the band Abba is so happy, joyous, and uplifting!

  • nubianaz

    Thinking of my camp host mother always makes me feel better when I feel low. I went to a old NYC camp that takes city kids to the “country” each summer. I spent eight years with my host mother, getting to know her and her family. Most importantly, for a few weeks each summer, I got to feel like a kid instead of a small person with too much responsibility. I picked blackberries and rode my bike, roasted marshmallows. Ate too much chocolate ice cream with Hershey’s syrup and salted peanuts. It was awesome. I will never forget the love she gave me.

  • Bianca

    Something that makes me feel better is to go for a walk in nature. Getting outside in the sunshine and just walking looking at trees and the grass and noticing the birds in the tree. I think it’s so important to get in touch with nature and appreciate this moment.

  • Colleen

    My dog. Hugging her and rubbing her belly, even the way she smells relaxes me.
    Dark Chocolate helps when I’m feeling numb or lack of energy. The sun is a big help.
    My heated blanket helps with anxiety, so comfy. Reminding myself of all I have accomplished and keeping busy during the winter. Gratitude and kindness for others reminds u of all the positives in your life

  • Moya Sharp

    After 10 yrs on medication I have started to move towards being eventually medication free. I read everything I can and have found CBT to be a huge help and none of the many mental health people I have seen over the years suggested it, I cam across it in a book. Straight away I knew that this approach was for me. I would be very interested in reading ‘Find Happiness Now’ it looks like a great book. I am transitioning into retirement and hope that it will be a new beginning for me.

  • Marsha Law

    I have been in therapy and on mild antidepressants for almost 2 years. I’ve noticed that 1) my depression has lifted considerably since I had my chronic sinus infection treated last month. 2) I feel more in control of emotional fluctuations since I stood up for myself and refused to be coerced into doing work that I despise. I am now doing work that I love and starting to make more money (largely because I am now able to get out of bed and face the day.) 3) A toxic emotionally abusive marriage exploded and now I feel free to be myself so despite occasionally mourning the loss of someone I once loved, most days I love myself more and more. And 4) I adopted four cats who keep me grounded in the moment and show me what being present looks like. (I also feel a deep love for these animals that I have never allowed myself to feel before in my life.) The next step for me is to wean myself off the antidepressants and bring back music and spontaneous dancing.

  • Alastriona

    Writing gratitude lists and breathing exercices are what have been helping me the most lately.

  • John Cserkuti

    Being a techie, programming makes me happy… especially when my programs work 🙂

  • Jonathan Robinson

    Hi Alex,

    thanks for your comments. You sound like you’re willing to really work at this. You might want to check out my program as well. Here’s the link:

    best of luck to you…warmly, Jonathan

  • Jonathan Robinson

    I was really touched by all the responses to the interview. Thanks for the heartfelt stories and good ideas. Keep up the good work. Also, if you want to know more about the program Dr. Miller and I created, here’s the link:

  • cindyg

    I absolutely find that if I go too long without exercise, I feel negativity settling in. I take a walk, sometimes cry through the entire few miles, but I feel better, think more clearly, and remind myself that I chose exercise over participation in some destructive behavior.

  • tiffany

    Totally feel like o could get even better results through exercise, diet and meditation but it’s scary to change upy regime. Would love to learn and try!

  • chrissy

    I have a 12 year old who is battling depression right now. She is adamantly opposed to mess. She says that she would rather just feel sad.

  • Jillian

    I have done the western and eastern route in treating depression. I believe western was good as a emergency situation in terms of psych hospitals and outpatient care in response to suicidal attempts and ideations. However, when I became more “stable” eastern was there to give me back the joy I was missing. I see a life coach/reiki healer who has given me the tools I need to combat bouts of depression that still come up through journaling, meditating, and to truly allow myself to feel my feelings and not become attached. When I was taking medication I felt like I was giving my power away. I try and be open to the people I love about what’s going on because that helps to get it off my chest. It might be hard for some people to deal with that as you mentioned in your experiences but I know who the people are in my life that are open to being my sound board and that is priceless. I believe being supported by the right people who love you and learning to love and forgive yourself for exactly where you are is the key to healing. The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Step.-Lao Tzu Thanks for letting me share!

  • Sand

    Spending time with my dog always puts me in a better mood.

  • Nell

    When I was diagnosed with Depression my father said to me ‘Just remember, through all the dark days, and there will be some very dark ones, there will always be sunshine waiting around the corner’. Thinking of this always helps me 🙂

  • Sarah

    Running and yoga are anti-depressants. They center me and help me feel grounded when my thoughts are primarily negative.

  • amy

    Wow, awesome article. I am differently going to pick myself up a copy if I can find one in nz!!!

  • Londonsgirl

    I always remember a quote from Buddha. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” When I am depressed I remember this quote and think to myself “is this how I want to feel or think”. The answer is always no. It has taken a lot of practice to train my brain to reroute my thinking. Meditation has helped a great deal in calming those thoughts and feelings; but also knowing that everything will pass and this thinking is just compounding on top of each other and ultimately take my life to where I don’t want it to be. I want more and I deserve so much more than what I had given myself permission to enjoy. So at this point in my life I’ve decided to enjoy as many moments as I can “think” my way to.

  • Name

    Hang on. Please have your thyroid checked. Can really wreak havoc on our moods.

  • Carrie

    A few things that help me deal with depression are to listen to music, pamper myself a little, go for a walk, or sit down to a nice, hot cup of tea with a good book and escape life for a little while.

  • Paul Sanyasi

    ‘Reactive’ depression due to life events, mistreatment and various forms of abuse and loss of loved one’s, hope, trust and meaningful connection with life benefit from a range of holistic approaches including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as well as those included here through exercise, contact with nature and animals, music, singing, dance, writing and other creative and therapeutic activities like helping others in need.
    We can all benefit from these therapeutic and life enhancing activities to increase energy flow and create a more balanced lifestyle to cope better with the demands of living in this challenging world.
    Bio-medical treatments are not effective long term for reactive depression due to life events and loss. They are generally, only 50% effective, and side-effects are not beneficial.
    Reducing anti-depressant medication very gradually, prevents alarming conditions of distress and possible self harm, and enables more self direction and life enhancing choices, passion and enthusiasm to emerge.
    Severe forms of mood disorder such as Bi-polar (manic depression), and Post Natal depression require careful bio-medical management to prevent critical conditions.
    Pharma corporations can be economical with the truth when harm and fatalities arise.
    They have self vested interests and profits to protect.
    Effective practitioners realize that mental health conditions require bio-psycho-social approaches and interventions to meet holistic human needs and prevent prolonged suffering. Learning to listen effectively with empathy is essential to helping others heal and find their way through the darkness of depression, anxiety and distress to the light of enhanced well being and renewed joy in living a more mindfully connected life.

  • Ange21

    My mood is temperamental. One minute i’m low and the next, on top of the world. The best feeling ever i’ve found is managing your moods, dealing with them in the correct way FOR YOU (…because we’re all different, let’s face it) and getting out of the terrible awful mood all by yourself. But the difficult bit is when you can’t change your mood no matter what. The worst bit for me is ‘taking it out’ on a loved one who cares about you. It’s difficult to explain it to them. Sometimes it’s best not to talk to anyone when you’re feeling low. I don’t want to label it as depression but i’m pretty sure it is. We are not our illnesses though, we are all individuals that live struggles and battles but manage to overcome them with our strength. We are strong and we are amazing beings.

  • Ange21

    I can relate to this. Love tiny buddha it’s been my muse!
    Hang in there.

  • Medication undoubtedly provides short-term relief from the symptoms of depression, but medication can never effectively change the underlying psychological process that creates the experience of depression. This is where mindfulness and mindfulness-based therapy can be so effective, because this will help you transform the underlying process that creates depression and anxiety and other forms of emotional suffering. Visit my peofile and website to learn more about mindfulness therapy.

  • Paul

    How are you coping with your grief now Alastriona? Has it faded at all?

  • As a professional mindfulness therapist I have found that mindfulness practice when directed at depression has provided more help than any other approach. What really makes the difference is when you work on building a conscious and compassionate relationship to your emotions. It is too vague to say, “be kind to yourself,” but the real improvements happen when you direct that kindness to the emotions that make up your depression.

    I teach my students to meditate on their depression directly. In so doing, you will, bit by bit, liberate yourself from the habit of becoming consumed by your emotions. If you don’t become the depression then you stop feeding it and if you stop feeding it then it has no choice but to change and heal. Depression will always heal if you bring kindness and consciousness to it. This quality of kindness + consciousness is mindfulness and this is why mindfulness heals, when practiced correctly.

    Mindfulness of breathing may bring temporary calmness, but mindfulness of the mind is what brings about liberation from suffering.

    Peter Strong, PhD
    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy for Anxiety and Depression.

    Author of ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation’ (Amazon, Kindle). Inquiries welcome!

  • Medication can provide a temporary relief from solutions, however this can never effectively change the underlying cause of depression, which is psychological in the vast majority of cases. We need to manage the habitual reactive rumination that feeds our depression. Mindfulness therapy is one of the best approaches for doing this.

    The Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy