Can you treat depression without medication?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 08, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Is depression treatable without medication?

Expert Answers

Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, who is responsible for's coverage of cancer, general health, and family finance, discovered how important it is to provide accurate, targeted, usable health information to people facing difficult decisions.

Yes, it's possible to treat depression without medication. Intensive talk-based therapy (psychotherapy or counseling) alone can help some individuals. Many professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other counselors, provide this kind of therapy. However, this process usually involves a lot of time and often is not fully reimbursed by insurance (including Medicare).

Research shows that a combination of antidepressant medication and talk therapy is often more effective than talk therapy alone. What's more, recurrence of depression after treatment is very common among older people, so it can be important to use a treatment strategy that can be continued, if needed, for months or even years. One 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that elders who continued with medication after their depression symptoms had improved were less likely to relapse than those who continued treatment with just psychotherapy.

Despite recent research calling the effectiveness of some antidepressants into question, most have been shown to be effective in treating depression in many people.

That being said, studies have also shown that even after treatment with a full dose of antidepressant medication, many people with depression do not experience improvement. So it can be reasonable to try to treat depression with psychotherapy first, and then try medication if the talk therapy fails.

Community Answers

Octoman answered...

When I lost my first wife after 3 months of marriage I I was so brave for a period then I had probems not being able to sleep constipation,head and eyes ache.then I tried talking it out of my system,it seemed to make me worse no one could understand "pull your socks up","get a grip!"but I had nothing to grip,suicide seemed to only answer,but read I Carl Gustaf Jungs,psychological idea's and saw the light .I was going against my nature,getting withdrawn it took five years to become well again,it was getting my mind straight.I realised  I was the cause of my problems it was my response to the accident that caused the problems,so the cure depends on the type of personaliy you have,I had made my wife my whole life she was my twin soul  without her my life had no meaning,I had created a pit,I was going to fall into eventually. I did try the medical profession,I found both Psychiatrists and mental heath centres ,  were drug based and out of touch.with my problems. Jung said drugs are just a crutch not a cure.Now many years later,my experience gave me a base to work from for the rest of my life.