What are effective non-pharmacological treatments for depression?

Non-pharmacological treatments for depression include cognitive behavioural therapy, naturopathic therapy, biological interventions, physical activity interventions, light therapy, sleep deprivation, structured self-help, guided self-help, exercise therapy, bibliotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, short-term psychodynamic supportive psychotherapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy.

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8 relevant studies
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Supporting evidence
Besides pharmacological treatment options non pharmacological biological interventions are available. Electroconvulsive therapy and partial sleep deprivation are very effective in the treatment of acute depression. Especially for seasonal affective disorders light therapy is a well established treatment alternative.
[Biological treatment strategies of depression--psychopharmacology and non-pharmacological methods].

Hatzinger et al.

Therapeutische Umschau. Revue therapeutique

Jan 13, 2011

Cognitive behavioural therapy, naturopathic therapy, biological interventions and physical activity interventions reduced depression severity as measured using standardised scales.
The only non-pharmacological biological treatment options available so far which exert more rapid antidepressant efficacy are electroconvulsive therapy and, as an augmentation strategy, sleep deprivation. In addition new non-pharmacological treatments like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, magnetic seizure therapy and Vagus nerve stimulation are currently under development.
Manipulations of sleep and light (for winter depression) rapidly improve mood in 60% of depressed patients.
The evidence was strongest for those interventions aimed solely at reducing depression in comparison to those aimed more broadly at reducing the psychosocial stress associated with having a chronic physical health problem.
Structured self-help and guided self-help interventions should be offered when depression is diagnosed. If these treatments are not effective, high-intensity interventions such as face-to-face talking therapies should be offered.
Non-pharmacological treatments for patients with depression.

Young et al.

Nursing standard (Royal College of Nursing (Great Britain) : 1987)

Jan 2, 2014

The guideline recommends exercise therapy, bibliotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, short-term psychodynamic supportive psychotherapy, and interpersonal psychotherapy as the non-pharmacological treatments for adult patients with mild-to-moderate depression in Korea.
Evidence-based, non-pharmacological treatment guideline for depression in Korea.

Park et al.

Journal of Korean medical science

Dec 26, 2013

Results suggest that psychotherapy is a safe and cost-effective method to reduce the public health burden of depression among older adults with subthreshold depression.

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