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Q: I was recently diagnosed with mild depression. I refuse to take prescription drugs. Therapists I've called seem to have a several-week waiting list. What can I do to help myself? How will I know when I am "cured"?

A: Depression is sometimes a chronic thing, and sometimes it's situational and acute. Needless to say, the acute kind is what tends to get "cured." If your life situation is tough, the depression could be a "normal" response to bad times. But I don't know enough about your depression to give you a very specific answer.

Depression & Spirituality
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All that being said, depression, if it is mild enough, can sometimes be managed by aerobic exercise, watching your sugar and alcohol consumption, getting up early and moving--even if you don't feel like it--forcing structure on your life, using meditation and imagery (if you can concentrate, which depends on how depressed you are), using herbs like St. John's Wort in moderation, and seeking a support group or psychotherapy.

If the depression is not budging in spite of trying all this, and you're miserable all the time, with no energy, poor concentration, low self-esteem, fatigue, weird sleeping and eating habits, and you find yourself weepy and/or angry all the time, I would encourage you to revisit the idea of temporary medication.

I'm not in love with pharmaceutical solutions either, but sometimes they're just the right thing to get you back on track and give you the energy to take back control of your life.

In fact, I've changed my mind about this over the years. I now think that if something is available that can cut through hard-to-budge suffering, you should take it, even if it is a pill.

Good luck.
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