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While most people with severe depression will take prescription antidepressants, some people with less severe depression may be able to treat their illness with natural antidepressants. Alternatives to antidepressant drugs include:

  • Therapy
  • Supplements
  • Herbs
  • Lifestyle changes


People may also want over-the-counter antidepressants to reduce the cost of depression treatment. Generic antidepressants may also be helpful in efforts to save money.

Therapy – an Alternative to Antidepressants

For those with severe depression, therapy is typically combined with antidepressant medication for the treatment of depression. Therapy, though, can be beneficial in and of itself. Psychotherapy can treat depression symptoms in many of the same ways classic antidepressants can. Therapy can:

  • Help deal with stressful life events or situations
  • Teach tools to better handle stressful situations that may lead to depression
  • Address and change depressive thought patterns
  • Supply information about depression
  • Address any issues that may be underlying the depression such as past traumas

More comprehensive information about: Psychotherapy for Depression.

Natural Antidepressants

Some seek natural antidepressants, over-the-counter antidepressants or generic antidepressants to reduce costs. Learn about alternative to antidepressants.There are also natural products some people may use to treat depression. These herbs and supplements can be considered over-the-counter antidepressants. It's important to remember though, just because an antidepressant is natural, doesn't mean it won't interact with other medication. Herbs, supplements and all other natural antidepressants should always be used under the care of a doctor.

Natural antidepressants include:

  • St. John's Wort – the most well-known herbal antidepressant. St. John's wort has been used as a treatment for depression in Europe although it is not approved for this use in North America. A recent study showed St. John's wortwas no better than a placebo in treating moderate depression1 but research into mild depression is ongoing.
  • SAMe – a synthetic form of a chemical found in the body. A form of SAMe is sometimes used as a prescription antidepressant in Europe.2
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – this alternative to antidepressants is found in foods like coldwater fish, flax seed, walnuts and soybeans. While supplements are available, the body absorbs omega-3 more easily when it's in food.

These alternatives to antidepressants are not regulated through the FDA, so efficacy may be inconsistent. Some supplements can interact dangerously with critical medications for illnesses like heart disease and seizures and should always be used under medical supervision.

Natural Antidepressants – Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle and behaviorial changes for treating depression can be very effective. Reduction in stress can often help the symptoms of depression. Lifestyle changes are often useful when combined with therapy or other depression treatments.

Lifestyle changes that may act as a natural antidepressant include:

  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet
  • Yoga
  • Meditation / guided imagery
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy

Generic Antidepressants List

If cost is the major concern when selecting a depression treatment, generic antidepressants are often an option. Generic antidepressants are often a fraction of the cost of brand name antidepressants and may be just as effective. Moreover, generic antidepressants have been prescribed for a longer period of time, so their side effects are well-known and documented.

The following generic antidepressants list shows the generic antidepressant name with its alternative brand name in brackets. A list of available, common generic antidepressants includes:

article references

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