Depression shouldn’t be taken lightly. Behind the “stroke of the blues” sometimes hides deep distress. If it lasts for several weeks, it is essential to consult a doctor who can estimate the intensity of the symptoms.and to prescribe an appropriate treatment. In the case of “mild” depressive episodes, certain natural methods give good results.
Almost one in five people has suffered or will suffer from depression in their lifetime. If antidepressants are sometimes essential, they have limits and other approaches have proven their effectiveness.
Daily light therapy to fight depression
It is proven: light therapy has a comparable effectiveness to antidepressants in the management of a moderate to severe depressive episode. The mechanisms are now better understood, as explained by Dr Pierre A. Geoffroy, psychiatrist and neuroscientist, university lecturer at the University of Paris: “Beyond the effects on the biological clock that we know and studies for more than forty years, we have been able to identify direct pathways between the retina and centers of emotion regulation in the brain, with in particular effects on the serotoninergic system in certain areas of the brain that are known to be involved in the Depression.”
For optimal effectiveness, prefer daily exposure to a power of 10,000 lux, for half an hour, ideally every morning and at the same time, until remission. Prefer a lamp with CE marking classified as a medical device (Dayvia, Philips, Lumia, Beurer …), placed less than one meter from the face.
A hot bath to relieve anxiety
What if one hot bath is enough to fight depression? In any case, this is the avenue explored by researchers who carry out a test where patients with depression and suffering from anxiety must bathe in water at 39 or 40 ° C.
As explained the Daily Mail in May 2021, the heat emerged as a potential treatment to researchers after they found that themood of people with depression improves when they suffer from … fever. This correlation was first reported in 1995 in the review Biological Psychiatry.
Since then, several studies have supported the idea that heat can help anxious people. For example, in 2016, scientists placed heating coils around patients with severe depression, increasing their body temperature at 38.3 ° C. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in the United States then found that 60% of patients responded to treatment and 40% met criteria for remission of their depression after a single session.
To try to understand the mechanism, a new trial must be carried out at Lakehead University (Canada with 150 patients who received a diagnosis of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Half will have their legs placed in hot water for at least 30 minutes, three times a week for two months. The other half of the test will undergo the same procedure but with cold water. Doctors will then compare the severity of the symptoms reported.
High-dose omega-3s to stimulate the nervous system
Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet decreases the risk of depression by 33%. This diet gives pride of place to mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3s which we know are essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Recent work goes even further, highlighting the value of omega-3 supplementation to treat depression. “It has been shown that taking such food supplements alone improves depression in women. Omega-3s are now included in the Canadian recommendations for the treatment of depression with a good level of evidence,” notes Dr Guillaume Fond, psychiatrist. , who routinely prescribes such supplementation to his patients suffering from anxiety and / or depressive disorders, at the rate ofat least 1 g of EPA and 400 mg of DHA per day, and to which he willingly adds vitamin D.
“Studies linking vitamin D deficiency and the onset of depressive symptoms have multiplied in recent years,” adds the psychiatrist.
Ideally, take advice from a doctor who will assess the necessary duration of the treatment. Some food supplements are highly concentrated in omega-3s such as the OM3 range from Isodis Natura, the Myvitamins range from Myprotein or the Omega-3 emotional balance formula from Fleurance Nature. You can also season your diet with rapeseed or walnut oil, which is rich in omega 3.
Physical activity, as effective as antidepressants!
This is the conclusion of a collective Inserm expert report published in 2019 (source 1): an adapted physical activity program has the same benefit as taking antidepressant drugs. In addition, the practice of regular physical activity would help prevent recurrence of depressive episodes.
In practice : do at least 3 sessions of 30 minutes per week with supervised mixed physical practices (aerobics, yoga, resistance, etc.), and this for 3 months.
Cognitive and behavioral therapy, in case of moderate depressive symptoms
“In terms of psychotherapies, it is cognitive and behavioral therapies (CBT) which have the highest level of evidence “, indicates Dr Fond. They are also recommended by the Haute Autorité de santé as first-line treatment in mild symptoms. or moderate (source 2).
This technique is practiced by doctors (general practitioners, psychiatrists) or specialized psychologists, in private practice, in establishment or in medico-psychological centers (CMP). She can call on breathing and relaxation techniques, behavioral techniques (gradual exposure to feared situations to reduce fear and anxieties), or to cognitive techniques aimed at modifying false beliefs that the person may have developed about themselves and the outside world.
The number of sessions varies according to the intensity of the symptoms and the feelings of the patients. Carried out with a psychiatrist, these sessions are partially covered by Social Security.
Depression: preventing relapses through meditation
In the absence of preventive treatment, the risk of relapse is increased within two years of depression and in people with multiple depressive episodes to their credit. Researchers at the University of Oxford conducted a study in April 2015 (source 3) on more than 400 patients who had suffered from at least three depressive episodes. Some received antidepressant treatment, others meditation sessions.
After two years of follow-up, the relapse rates in the two groups were almost similar (44% and 47%). The scientists therefore concluded that mindfulness meditation was just as effective as drug treatments in preventing relapses. It makes it possible to focus on the present moment and of take a step back from your emotions. To be effective, it must nevertheless be practiced regularly, at the rate, for example, of about thirty minutes divided each day.
Antidepressants are sometimes essential
In certain situations, antidepressants may remain essential:
- the severe depression with suicidal thoughts;
- those inducing a significant impact on social, family or professional life and for which a rapid response must be provided;
- those for which there is a genetic vulnerability, if a first-degree relative has ever had major depressive episodes.