12 Ways to Cope with Depression Naturally

When we discuss mental health, depression is an essential part of the conversation, as it affects millions of people worldwide (1). The search for natural, alternative coping mechanisms has gained considerable momentum, even though professional help is still highly beneficial. Discovering such techniques is crucial since it gives people a comprehensive way to take care of their mental health (2).

This blog explores what depression is, the possible causes, and natural ways to manage depression. These tactics help to provide affected individuals with practical skills to build resilience and take back control of their mental health.

What is Depression?

Depression is a multifaceted mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a pervasive lack of interest in activities that once brought joy (1, 3). It is more than a fluctuation in mood, presenting a significant and enduring challenge to individuals affected by it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 280 million people have been diagnosed with depression, making it one of the leading causes of disability. It is believed that about 3.8% of the population and 5% of the adult population have depression. Interestingly it is more common among adults over 60 years old, where the prevalence is 5.7%. 

The prevalence varied across regions and demographics, with higher rates among women than men,5 where 4% of males and 6% of women have depression.


Causes of Depression

Multiple factors such as genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological all play a role in the condition. Depression often manifests through a range of symptoms including changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and difficulties concentrating. It is not just a fleeting emotion but rather a chronic condition that, if left untreated, can impair daily functioning, relationships, and overall well-being (4).

Understanding the complex relationship between the mind, body, and lifestyle makes it imperative to treat depression holistically and healthily.

Natural Ways to Cope with Depression

Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity like brisk walking, yoga or dancing can be an effective strategy to combat depression (5). Exercise has been shown to lessen depressive symptoms because it releases endorphins. Endorphins are considered the body's natural mood enhancers.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals engaging in aerobic exercise for approximately 150 minutes a week experienced more effective short-term relief from depression symptoms (6). The research also indicated that those who incorporated exercise into their daily routine had a lower likelihood of experiencing repeat episodes of depression (7).

Healthy Diet

Maintaining good mental health requires a well-balanced diet (5, 8). Various studies have concluded that nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins have been associated with improved mood. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed, and walnuts also possess mood-elevating qualities. It has also been found that excessive caffeine and sugary foods have contributed to mood swings and low energy (9).

Some argue that when experiencing depression, individuals may be more inclined to choose unhealthy foods. But the question arises: does our diet contribute to our low moods, or is it the other way around? Fortunately, researchers have delved into this question. A comprehensive research analysis of various prospective studies discovered a strong correlation between adopting a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, and a reduced risk of depression.

Prioritize Quality Sleep

Depression can interfere with sleep, and a lack of adequate sleep can exacerbate depressive symptoms (2, 10). To address this, researchers have advised implementing lifestyle modifications. They suggest maintaining a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time daily. Researchers also advise against napping and suggest removing potential distractions such as computers and TVs from your bedroom. Over time, these changes may contribute to an improvement in your sleep patterns.

Social Support

It is crucial to have social support when battling depression. Having connections with friends, family, or support groups helps one feel understood and accepted (4, 11). It reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation by offering a safe space to talk about emotions, experiences, and coping techniques. Trusted individuals can offer practical assistance, encouragement, and empathy, which are crucial in navigating through tough times.

Moreover, social interactions increase feelings of happiness and well-being by releasing neurotransmitters like oxytocin and serotonin. Through genuine connections, individuals with depression can find comfort, validation, and motivation to seek professional help and make positive changes in their lives.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness practices, including meditation and deep-breathing exercises, can help manage stress and reduce symptoms of depression (3, 12). These techniques encourage being present at the moment, fostering a sense of calm and acceptance. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine for lasting benefits.

Dr. John W. Denninger, who heads research at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital linked with Harvard, describes meditation as a practice that helps the brain stay focused for longer periods. This allows the brain to regain that focus when faced with negative thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations. This is particularly helpful during times of stress and anxiety.

Engaging in Hobbies       

Engaging in hobbies can be a powerful tool in alleviating depression (13). By immersing yourself in enjoyable activities, you can find solace, purpose, and pleasure. Hobbies provide a distraction from negative thoughts, promote mindfulness, and boost self-esteem through accomplishments. Whether it's painting, gardening, playing an instrument, or hiking, hobbies offer a sense of fulfillment and connection.

They create opportunities for social interaction whilst fostering supportive relationships that combat feelings of loneliness. Regular engagement in hobbies also releases endorphins, the body's natural mood enhancers, promoting a sense of well-being. Ultimately, hobbies offer a path toward rediscovering pleasure and meaning in life amidst depression's challenges.

Spending time in Nature

Nature offers a calming and rejuvenating environment that can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. Activities such as walking in the park, hiking in the mountains, or simply sitting by a river can promote mindfulness, grounding individuals in the present moment and fostering a sense of peace.

Exposure to natural sunlight also boosts mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin, which can help alleviate depressive symptoms. Additionally, being in nature encourages physical activity, which is known to improve overall well-being and mental health.

Limiting Stress

Limiting stress can significantly aid in managing depression (15). By reducing stressors, individuals can lessen the burden on their mental and emotional well-being, creating additional space for healing and recovery. Stress management techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises like yoga, deep breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle habits help regulate cortisol levels and promote a sense of calmness.

Decreasing stress also enhances resilience, empowering individuals to cope with challenges more effectively. Moreover, a lower-stress environment fosters better sleep, improved mood, and heightened overall well-being, contributing to a gradual but meaningful alleviation of depressive symptoms.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine can be a complementary approach to managing depression, but it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal remedies. This is especially important if you're already taking prescription medications (16, 17). Some herbs, such as St. John's Wort, have shown potential in alleviating mild to moderate depression symptoms, possibly by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Lavender and chamomile are known for their calming effects and may reduce stress and anxiety.

A systematic review shows some substantial evidence to support the use of herbal supplements including kava or passionflower extracts as well as L-lysine and L-arginine combinations as therapies for anxiety disorders and symptoms. Supplements including magnesium and other herbal combinations might be promising, but further study is required before patients can be advised to use these items. 

Setting realistic goals

Setting realistic goals is crucial for coping with depression. A good recommendation is to start small, like getting out of bed at a consistent time or going for a short walk. Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Focusing on self-care activities, like eating well and getting enough sleep is another beneficial goal. Finally, celebrate each achievement, no matter how small, and be kind on the days when progress feels slow.

Practicing self-care

Self-care involves intentionally prioritizing activities and behaviors that promote mental, emotional, and physical well-being. This can include practicing good hygiene, maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and ensuring sufficient sleep. Additionally, engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as spending time with loved ones or enjoying nature, which can also be beneficial. By investing in self-care practices, individuals can encourage resilience, enhance self-esteem, and better cope with the challenges of depression.

Seeking Therapy

Seeking therapy to cope with depression can be a vital step towards healing and recovery (18). Therapy offers a safe and supportive space to explore and understand the root causes of depression, as well as teach coping strategies and skills to manage symptoms effectively. A trained therapist can provide guidance, validation, and practical tools tailored to individual needs. helping to challenge negative thought patterns and build resilience.


The journey toward managing depression naturally is as diverse as the individuals undertaking it. We explored various ways to cope with depression from the power of exercise and nutrition to meditation and social connection, The options reflect the individualized nature of mental health care. In the journey toward holistic mental health, compassion, and self-care must take center stage. Prioritizing mental well-being, reaching out for support when needed, and recognizing that no one is alone in this journey is paramount. 

Written by: Nishtha Kathuria


Edited by: Clare Keeble

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