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Depression Quick Facts According to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the year 2020, depression will be the number two cause of "lost years of healthy life" worldwide. However, the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.

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Author: Michelle Rabin, Ph.D.

Article source: Used with author's permission.

Different Kinds Of Depression

I’m often asked if it’s possible to treat depression without having to take medications. The answer is YES….but there are many things to consider. The first is whether or not the depression is reactive or endogenous. Reactive depression happens after an upsetting event: the loss of a loved one, getting fired from a job, a bad breakup, etc. This type of depression is a natural reaction to a sad or traumatic event. It usually clears up after a time (it’s only worrisome if it’s been a long period of time and the depression hasn’t started to improve) and can be greatly helped with non-pharmaceutical treatments like exercise, nutrition, herbs, and therapy. However, in cases of severe loss that go beyond reasonable periods of grieving (if a person has lost someone close to them and a year has passed without any improvement) may benefit from a pharmaceutical intervention for a period of time to help reduce their level of dispair. In many cases of reactive depression, it’s important to remember that it’s normal to struggle emotionally after a major life event, and sometimes it’s best if the person can just allow themselves to feel sad for a little while and to take time to work it out and process what’s going on, instead of trying to cover it up and pretend like everything’s normal.

The second type of depression is called Endogenous depression. It is a depression that comes from within and may be a result of a chemical imbalance. Maybe you know someone whose life looks perfect from the outside yet, no matter what they do, they cannot get out of the dark hole of depression. This type of depression can also be helped with non-pharmaceutical alternatives, but in certain cases where everything has been tried to no effect, drugs may be a last resort.


It has been shown that the consistent release of endorphins can have a significant impact on depression. Endorphins are chemicals that get released when one has been running for about 25 minutes, for example, or when we engage in any type of strenuous physical activity. We’ve all heard of the runners “high”. It’s the endorphins doing their thing. These endorphins can work wonders on a depressed person to give them a little chemical taste of well being. In this way, exercise can be extremely beneficial to all people who are depressed, whether they are slightly depressed or severely depressed. The problem"the real catch 22"is that it’s almost impossible to get a depressed person to exercise. Getting out of bed may be a challenge for them. If someone you know is suffering from depression, you could suggest that the two of you go for a walk, a jog, a swim, or a bike ride together. Anything to get the blood pumping will make the person feel better. It almost seems too simple, but in my experience, it is usually the most simple things that are the most effective.


Diet plays a critical role in ones mental health as well as physical health. It is essential to eat wholesome, natural foods that are organic whenever possible. The American Medical Association (AMA), came out in 2002 and stated that all Americans need to supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals. The soil that we’re growing our food supply on has been depleted of its vitamins and minerals and, as such, the food we eat isn’t providing us with all the nutrition we need for our physical and mental well-being. The only way to ensure that we’re getting adequate nutrition is to consume lots of whole grains and vegetables, and complement them with nutritional supplements. After 25 years of researching supplements, I have found a wonderful, complete nutritional product that is easy to take and extremely easy to digest. It is my opinion that maintaining good nutrition is the single best way to fight depression.


Herbs are a good option for people who have mild to moderate depression and decide they’d prefer to avoid pharmaceuticals. St. Johns Wart is a good herb if it’s taken in tincture form. The down side of using herbs is that you must take them 3 times a day, consistently for at least 3-4 months. Always remember that herbs are not regulated by the FDA so the only way to insure that you’re getting the best quality herbs is to purchase quality brands. Don’t shop for discounts when it comes to herbs. For tinctures, I would recommend Herbalist & Alchemist, and Herb Pharm. And the company Traditional Medicinals makes very high quality herbal teas. When it doubt, it is always best to seek the help of a qualified herbalist or Naturopath.


Many people have questions about electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). It is frightening for most people to imagine, and it is certainly a very extreme measure to take. The truth is that it is not what most people have been lead to believe it is through television and movies. First off, the patient is not conscious while the procedure is being performed and experiences no pain. But it is also necessary to mention that ECT is only appropriate for a very, very small percentage of people who are depressed, and should only be considered after every other alternative (pharmaceuticals included) has been tried without success. For those few people who are candidates, the potential for improvement is considerable, It is essential to find an excellent practitioner, typically a psychiatrist, to perform this procedure.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the psychological treatment of choice for depression. CBT helps to counteract the negative thought patterns that often accompany depression and replace them with more accurate beliefs. CBT teaches people how to reframe their negative thought patterns while giving them a new skill set for future challenges they might face.

Dr. Michelle Rabin is a clinical psychologist with 25 years experience treating depression.

For more information on depression or for more depression resources, visit

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