Complementary Medicine for Depression

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Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. While pharmaceuticals are commonly recommended to treat depression, there are several natural, non-drug therapies that have demonstrated effectiveness. With or without the addition of pharmaceuticals, alternative treatments can offer a long-term solution with minimal side effects. Nationally recognized natural health practitioner Dr. Bret Mosher offers complementary medicine for depression at his Poway, CA, practice serving the greater San Diego, CA, area. This approach incorporates the most effective therapies from Western and alternative medicine to help patients overcome depression. If you would like to learn more about treating depression naturally, please contact us to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Mosher.

Because alternative therapies such as herbal or botanical supplements taken without guidance can range from ineffective to dangerous, it is extremely important to approach complementary medicine for depression under the guidance of a trained professional.

A Viable Alternative

There is growing support for the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) to treat mild to moderate depression. For severe or major depression, in which there is immediate concern of harm to oneself or to others, pharmaceutical medications should be considered as the first line of therapy. In some cases, after a severely depressed patient has become stabilized, CAM therapies such as changes in lifestyle, as well as psychological, nutritional, and other non-pharmaceutical solutions can be introduced.

Seek a Professional

Because alternative therapies such as herbal or botanical supplements taken without guidance can range from ineffective to dangerous, it is extremely important to approach complementary medicine for depression under the guidance of a trained professional. Over-the-counter herbal and botanical supplements that claim to treat depression are part of a multi-billion dollar industry of  “dietary supplements” that are unregulated and largely untested. They can also interact with prescribed medications. For example, taking St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants can cause serious side effects. Dr. Mosher will never recommend stopping taking a drug that you require, and he will closely analyze any prescriptions you take in order to avoid harmful interactions.

Integrative Treatments

The functional approach to depression is based on an holistic model that considers the patient’s lifestyle, habits, and background. Dr. Mosher draws on a number of modalities to develop a custom treatment plan. It begins with a careful review of the history of your condition, and a thorough assessment and diagnosis. Depending on your needs, your treatment could involve natural and alternative modalities, pharmaceuticals prescribed by your medical doctor, and psychotherapy with a psychologist or therapist.

Complementary modalities recommended and guided by Dr. Mosher may include:


The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified depression as one of the conditions for which acupuncture has proven an effective treatment. Recent studies have found acupuncture to be just as effective as counseling and some antidepressants in certain cases. As a complementary therapy, acupuncture can help reduce a patient’s reliance on pharmaceuticals. Dr. Mosher is board certified in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.


St. John’s wort is notable for its ability to safely treat mild to moderate depression. The side effects of St. John’s wort are minor, particularly when compared to the side effects of antidepressant pharmaceuticals. Gingko biloba can also be useful, especially for depressive symptoms resulting from vascular events. All herbals and botanicals for depression should be taken under professional guidance.


Many different nutritional supplements are used in natural medicine to treat depression. Dr. Mosher is highly trained in using them alone and in combination to treat depression symptoms. Patients with depression commonly have nutrient deficiencies, and impaired digestion is often a significant cause. An expert in advanced clinical nutrition, Dr. Mosher designs customized diets to maximize physical and mental health.

Mind-body Practices

Practices such as yoga, guided imagery, meditation, aerobic exercise, and massage therapy can bring your mind and body into harmony and help ease depression. Aromatherapy with lavender oil has been shown to improve mood and reduce aggression, and can be effectively combined with relaxation techniques.  

Learn More

With proper guidance, natural medicine can be a safe, effective adjunct to traditional depression treatment. When selecting a complementary health practitioner, remember that his or her credentials and experience are just as important as those of standard medical care providers. To learn more about how Dr. Mosher can help you overcome depression with complementary treatment, contact us today.

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