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How can I self-treat my depression and anxiety? 

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From a teen in the U.S.:  I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and insomnia early in 2019. I received clinical treatment for my condition, in form of psychotherapy and medication. However, clinical treatment has been largely ineffective and, at times, harmful.

Starting January, I attended psychotherapy sessions. My therapist suggested cognitive and dialectical therapy as approaches to relieve symptoms. The premise behind cognitive therapy is that negative thoughts lead to negative emotional states. However, the more I tried to stop thinking bad thoughts, the more recurrent those thoughts became. The premise behind dialectical therapy is that acceptance and validation of negative emotions will cause those emotions to dissipate. However, once I accepted my dark emotional state, I felt trapped and defeated, with a sense that there no way out of the pain.

In June, since psychotherapy was not working for me, I was referred to a psychiatrist, who prescribed be an antidepressant. Unfortunately, the medication did nothing for me. I did not experience any elevation in my emotional state. In addition, I have experienced several side effects, including nausea, constipation,  headaches, and abdominal pain. I am currently on a 20 milligram dose that I take daily.

Clinical intervention has not helped me get better. Are there any natural, self-treatment options I can start practicing in order to fully recover and find happiness again? For example, are there any adjustments I can make in my lifestyle?

How can I self-treat my depression and anxiety? 

Answered by on -


You ask an important question. Sometimes clinical work doesn’t provide relief. I think it would be helpful if you tried a review of your treatment, coupled with some natural approaches.

First: Please bear in mind that not all treatment modalities or psychiatric medicines work the same way for everyone. Both CBT and DBT have been shown to be very helpful for many people, but that doesn’t guarantee they would be helpful for you. Further, not all clinicians are as expert as others. Before giving up on therapy all together, I suggest you consider looking for another therapist who is trained in another treatment method. Read about different approaches and see what appeals to you.

Look for a therapist who has years of experience working with treatment-resistant anxiety and depression. Read the self-bios of therapists on our Find Help tab or on other therapist locators.

The same is true for medications. Not all medications are helpful for everyone with the same disorder. Fortunately, there is a whole palette of options. Did you work with your prescriber to find the right one for you? It often takes trying several different medications to find the one that works for you.

As for the “natural” approach: Regardless of talk or medication, there are life style choices that can ameliorate anxiety and depression. Really, it’s getting down to basics.

You need about 8 hours or sleep every night. Sleep is restorative. It is where healing happens.

You also need to get outside for moderate exercise several times a week – even if you don’t feel like doing it. Studies are now showing that for some people, a few hours of time outside is as effective as antidepressant medication.

Don’t neglect getting the nutrition you need every day. Good food is fuel for the mind as well as the body. You don’t need to go on a special diet. Just aim for a well balanced diet each day that includes the food groups.

And stay away from alcohol, street drugs, and nicotine. None of them will do you any good even if they temporarily make you feel a bit better.

Developing good habits around sleep, exercise, and diet and staying away from substances that your body doesn’t need is a good idea whether as a supplement to treatment or as a lifestyle choice.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How can I self-treat my depression and anxiety? 

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How can I self-treat my depression and anxiety? . Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Jan 2020 (Originally: 23 Jan 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 21 Jan 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.