How to beat depression without prescription drugs

Overcome depression
© Jim Nix

Depression is one of the worst afflictions anyone can suffer because no matter what the outer circumstances of life, the EXPERIENCE of life is dark, painful, hopeless.

Words can’t describe the awful pain that is depression. It’s torture…

The reason I’m so desperate to speak about this is that the truth about depression is just not common knowledge.

Depression, like so many other health conditions, is treated as if something suddenly went wrong with your brain. Anti-depressant prescriptions are taken en-masse…

These drugs attempt to alter the chemistry of your brain to try to FIX a lack or excess of brain chemicals like “serotonin.” The SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) anti-depressants for example aim to stop serotonin being lost from the brain and therefore keep you happier. But there’s a real lack of evidence that these drugs help, and even short-term benefit seems likely to be the placebo effect.

Drugs can only ever treat symptoms

The short-sightedness of this whole approach makes my blood boil. I feel angry about it. Very angry. Because MILLIONS of people are being duped into thinking that they need drugs which can only ever MASK an underlying problem…

Does it ever occur to doctors and scientists to ask just WHY people’s brains do not have enough serotonin? What is the true UNDERLYING CAUSE?

And if you agree to take tablets, and perhaps you feel you can’t cope without them, where now is the motivation to address the underlying causes — IF you knew there were some, IF you knew what they were and IF you knew how to change them. But who knows about this? — Hardly anyone is teaching this stuff. It’s not common knowledge.

Something like “not enough serotonin” is merely a SYMPTOM of a dysfunctional biochemistry, a less than optimal state of health brought about by decades of contributing LIFESTYLE factors.

True causes of depression

I can tell you that overwork, over-stimulation (coffee, tea, cigarettes, chocolate), too much stress, too much alcohol, not enough quality sleep, lack of exercise and CRUCIALLY, poor diet are all contributing factors. Some or ALL of these are the TRUE underlying causes of depression.

Decades of sub-optimal lifestyle is the true cause of depression and folks are being FOBBED OFF with tablets.

And like I said, if you fob people off with a crutch like a drug, they will just get used to using the crutch, get comfy with it.

Drugs should be a last resort where a person is so ill that they are incapable of reason, of hope, of self-motivation, of understanding.

You need the TRUTH, not drugs

You need to know the truth about depression and its causes so that you are EMPOWERED in your life.

Depression is merely a SYMPTOM and your body works as a beautiful synergistic whole.

It’s an INSULT to mask the beautiful harmonious functioning of your body with the sledge-hammer action of drugs where lifestyle changes will not only CORRECT the condition but return your body to a state of balance and your mind to a state of joy.

I suffered 13 years of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) and I can tell you without a shadow of doubt, that depression is a symptom of a body in trouble.

To mask SYMPTOMS with drugs is not the way to go because it DOES NOT ADDRESS the true causes.

The power of lifestyle changes

I remember when I started making lifestyle changes, my brain literally started to wake up again. I felt popping sensations in my brain and I felt like someone just switched on the light! Your diet especially, has an amazingly powerful effect on mood, and it’s not only about nutrients, but about how food alters your hormones, which in turn, not only affect mood, but powerful factors affecting health or disease outcomes in the future.

The other thing you need to be aware of is that if you take a drug, then your body will adapt to the presence of that drug. It will become dependant on that drug. And ALL drugs have side effects. How could they not… they are SLEDGE HAMMERS.

I’m just trying to give you options here. My aim is just to get to the truth. Sometimes a drug is necessary to buy you time to sort your life out, but you need to see the big picture — understand how to correct the true causes of depression.

And I believe wholeheartedly that you were never meant to get depressed. Your body isn’t incapable of joy. Something did NOT JUST BREAK.

Depression cause and effect

There are causes. It’s simple cause and effect. And the cause of depression is decades of sub-optimal lifestyle. Call me a liar.

So please, if you’re suffering the “black dog” as Winston Churchill put it, I want to give you hope, to give you a reason to believe you can be free, that you can be happy naturally again.

It’s possible.

Lifestyle has INCREDIBLE power to alter your mood.

A multi-pronged strategy is the way to go

Everything affects everything else!

All SIX lifestyle elements I recommend you pay conscious attention to have a powerful influence on your mood:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Drugs (get rid of)
  4. Sleep
  5. Organization
  6. Live in the moment

Start a walking program, eat in the way your body loves, get plenty of sleep, de-stress, learn to relax, drink lots of pure, clean water, learn how to let go of compulsive thinking, spend time with loved ones, get more organized. Do all these things and see for yourself.

“A few months ago it felt as though I was losing control of my thoughts and was slowly slipping into the beginning of a deep depression.

But having put your advice into practice, I can honestly say I’m happy now… Once in a while I’ll have have some unwanted thoughts but it’s improved 99%! You really helped me. You seriously did.

I’ve actually told a lot of people about how your advice helped me. My fiance followed your diet and got all the benefits you said a person would get. Thanks and hope you’re doing great!

Happy Matt =)
p.s. I can’t believe how much this worked.”
— Matt, USA

Believe in the incredible power of lifestyle, get into good habits to make all these things effortless and work with your doctor to reduce medication as the clouds clear and the sun comes into your life again.

Everyone deserves to be happy! Happiness is your natural state and if you’re not happy, something is out-of-whack and needs correcting. Happiness is the birth right of everyone. Don’t settle for a gray life.

Joy is for you, for all.

Best wishes,
Michael Kinnaird

18 thoughts on “How to beat depression without prescription drugs

  1. Thank you so much, Mr. Kinnaird. My 18 year old son, a very, very good student, deep thinker, sensitive, good sense of humor, always had several, close friends, slowly sank into depression his senior year in high school. It is almost impossible to find a counselor that does not push pharmaceuticals as the only route to wellness. He tried lexapro with abilify. It did lift his spirts yet he did not feel like himself and refused to continue them. I support his choice. Yet I wish I could find a counselor or psychologist who believes this also. I think it would benefit him to work with a professional. We are in Winston Salem, North Carolina, if you have a colleague in this area.

  2. Hi Lee,

    You must get to the CAUSES. You know your son very well so ask yourself what these TRUE causes are. Is his lifestyle good? Is he under pressure at school?

    I can totally understand your son’s issues. Sensitive and intelligent people are really so much more prone to depression because they see and feel everything so deeply. And a ferrari mind, although powerful, is much more prone to be temperamental and break down :-)

    Try to find the causes. A naturopath may help you find any physical causes and like you say, perhaps a psychologist can help with any wrong-thinking and wrong-viewing.

    If you don’t get help locally, please read Happy Guide and you’ll find all the true causes of happiness and health laid out in there.

    Good luck, I hope it all works out for you both, I’m sure it will.


  3. Lifestyle really, really, matters. The three biggest in my opinion are SLEEP, Exercize and Alchohol. You may also have anxiety causing insomnia so you have to learn to relax.

    If you are really bad go to the doc and take the pills, don’t let this article talk you out of it. You can take the meds and still improve lifestyle.

  4. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree that sometimes drugs are needed in severe cases to lift the mood in order to take action. In fact, the article does say…

    “Sometimes a drug is necessary to buy you time to sort your life out, but you need to see the big picture — understand how to correct the true causes of depression.”


    “…work with your doctor to reduce medication as the clouds clear and the sun comes into your life again.”

    Taking action to correct the true causes is the important thing. That isn’t happening in the real world — lack of awareness of the truth, lack of education, the pill-for-an-ill mindset, medical methods and lack of the right tools to actually make successful changes and make them stick.

    Drugs can end up making the situation worse — their effect diminishes over time and by then, you’re in a situation that’s even harder to turn around.

    All the best,

  5. Yes! Lifestyle is a huge part of getting better. Coming off my worst bout of depression I felt like I had to completely revamp my life in order have any shot at making it through each day. Sleep, exercise, diet, and just re-learning to have fun again have helped tremendously.

    Very nice article Mr. Kinnaird.

  6. thanks, will buy your book next week, god im tired of being sick,dont know what im doin anymore,sometimes i think im crazy,i have made so many wrong decision,im so unhealthy and so tired.thanks for listening regads elaine

  7. i wish it was that easy.thankyou for trying.when you have a 9mm to your head habits arent your 1st thought.not that i have that now.still thank you,habits save your life in most times.

    1. Not easy Kirk when you’ve arrived at the point of wanting an exit. I despair at a society where that is even possible and yet not only is it possible, it is common. And until things seriously shift, I prayed for a way that would be a light for anyone in a desperate place, a clear way back to happiness no matter what the situation. My dream is now reality… Happy Guide gives clear, precise insights into the truth about health, about what matters, about the path back. Check it out Kirk, I think you’ll like it :-) ~ Mike

  8. I could not agree with this article more. Just five months ago I was a happy go lucky 44 year old guy, in a great marriage with a wonderful son. I never had any anxiety or depression issues before at all. In fact, I was someone who truly loved life. I was extremely healthly and exercised regularly. I don’t drink or smoke. But through a few bad choices and a stroke of bad luck I suddenly found myself thrust into the violent and dark world of psych meds.

    Like author of this article I did go though a bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for a few years after coming down with mononucleosis in college. I, however, was able to completely overcome it by being treated with homeopathy and living a healthy lifestyle to the point where I became healthier than I was before I came down with the syndrome. In fact, I had the energy of a 20 year old. Nevertheless, in the back of my mind I always had a lingering concern about my health.

    My bad luck began in September when I came down with an inguinal hernia while exercising. Even though it is a simple surgery I became obsessed and fearful of it to the point that the only thing I did all day was read about failed hernia surgeries. I started to get insomnia and high anxiety. Upon the recommendation of family members and friends I made the fatal mistake of visiting a psychiatrist. He simply listened to me diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and gave me a prescription of Frisium and Lexapro. I did not know what I was getting into at the time.

    I began taking the Frisium and Lexapro and during the first week my anxiety skyrocketed while I also had suicidal tendencies. This had never occurred to me before. The whole thing was blamed on the Frisium and I continued to take the Lexapro thinking I really had no other choice. I hated the stuff while I was on it. I took it for a total of 7 weeks (4 at 10 mgs and 3 at 5mgs). The only thing it did for me is rev up my anxiety and created a bunch of undesireable side effects like dizziness, lack of concentration, a voracious appetite, all while killing my libido after about the 5th week. It got to the point where I could actually smell the stuff in my breath and feel it pulsing in my blood.

    Upon the recommendation of my brother, however, I also began seeing a CBT specialist psychologist who has an extensive knowledge of pharmacology. When he saw my prescription he almost went through the roof. He stated that clinically my case of anxiety was not that very serious and that prescribing an SSRI for it was a massive overkill. He said that I in fact did not have GAD but simply had developed a compulsion about my surgery and that the way to deal with it was to resolve the underlying problem causing it, namely to just have the surgery. He also added that I hated the drugs that I was taking and their possible side effects so much that they developed into something which really compounded my anxiety fourfold and sent it through the roof. We agreed to slowly wean off the stuff. I have been off it for 9 weeks. It has been 9 weeks of hell. During the first three I had some good and bad days. On the good days I felt pretty normal and actually thought that I would have no trouble recovering. But after about the 6th week of stopping the stuff I have now developed a great fear of things and my anxiety has morphed into a depression, while my body feels like it has been hit with a hammer. This is in spite of the fact that following my CBT sessions, I am actually much calmer now and a lot more functional at work. I no longer have any fear of the surgery and just want to get it over with and move on with my life. However, I just don’t know if that’s possible or whether or not the Lexapro has left a bad permanent imprint on me. I only wish I had known all the facts before putting this stuff in my mouth. I can only pray that since I took it for a short period of time at a low dosage I will be one of the lucky ones and will be able to get off this drug and get my life back.

    People need to be warned about what taking an SSRI actually means about the side-effects and dangers. These drugs were not designed to be taken for short periods of time but for a lifetime. I am not saying that people do not need them but I also believe that they are massively over-prescribed for people that have mild cases of anxiety and depression that could certainly be treated in other ways. Be informed and always think twice before beginning any treatment with an antidepressant.

    1. Hi Bill, Thanks for your story. I really feel sad that this even happened — we think we are so advanced and yet this happened to you and it needed only a small intervention, a wise counsel, to nip it in the bud.

      Not only was it not nipped in the bud but compounded by inappropriate treatment. Unfortunately Bill, who you get is pot-luck and if you find someone with real insight who can guide you through, you’ve hit the jackpot. Such people are still few and far between. Glad you found your CBT guy before things got too out-of-hand.

    1. Hi DWR,

      I believe the underlying causes should be corrected, and that means a body and mind working healthily and naturally. I agree that temporary interventions can help, but the focus should be the correction of lifestyle and thinking that caused the problem to show up.

      If niacin is deficient for example, the diet needs correction, perhaps with temporary supplementation to correct deficiency.

      This would need lab tests to confirm though and people need simple and free solutions that WORK and maintain happiness in the long-term.

      Nature is the answer to nearly all sickness… bringing lifestyle IN LINE with the lifestyle we are exquisitely tied to genetically. It’s no good eating a very poor diet and not exercising, being stressed and getting poor quality sleep and then expecting niacin or anti-depressants or anything else to bail us out.

  9. I am SO GLAD to see that someone else feels that depression is better treated with lifestyle changes instead of medication!

    The medication trend for mood disorders/mental illness is what has discouraged me from seeking treatment for my current ongoing depressed state- I don’t want to be told to just take a “happy pill”. I’d rather work with lifestyle changes instead of messing around with medications. The therapists/counselors I have seen in the past have all encouraged me to ask my doctor about prescription meds for depression. This is the reason I’ve stopped seeing therapists/counselors and I’m very reluctant to ever see one again.

    I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety all my life. My birthday is in a few weeks, and after reading this article I’m determined to make some lifestyle changes (sleep, food, exercise, less physical and mental clutter, priortizing) that will stop the depression/anxiety at its core cause, instead of masking the symptoms with a medication that may or may not work.

    I also agree that depression/anxiety medication would be helpful in very extreme cases to get one back on one’s feet so they can start functioning again. Other than that, they’re overused.

    Thanks for posting this article. I’m so pleased that there are indeed options to heal depression from the source, instead of just blocking the symptoms. :)

    1. That’s great Kelly… you’ve listed some of the main things to change. I would add reducing/eliminating drugs like tea/coffee/alcohol and “living in the moment” — essentially, learning to be boss of your mind, to put attention where you want it and be “present.” If you’re interested, optimizing all these things is what our book Happy Guide is all about — getting all these things into daily habits so that you automatically feel good. Good luck!

  10. Hi Dr Kinnaird
    I’m from the UK and went to the GP in May this year complaining about memory loss. The doctor sent me for a series of blood tests which came back all clear, presu.ably to see if I had no symptoms of physical illness and was therefore diagnosed for depression or mild symptoms of it. I was gobsmacked! It never even crossed my mind I would have been depressed. I was recommended to take SSRI and go on a course of cognitive behavioural therapy. I refused the ssri because my wife used them several years ago and heard about horror stories of addiction etc. I wanted to seek a herbal alternati e to SSRI and went to.local herbal medecine shop and bought L -5 hydroxy tryptophan or 5-htp, started an NHS course of CBT which was done over the phone which I didn’t like as I found it was impersonal. I requested private referral through my medical insurance and saw a specialist psychiatrist who ,incredibly, concurred with the GP after a 20 minute examination. Perhaps the 300 pounds he received from AXA was ample enough incentive?
    Anyway I have since june been following a course of private 1 to 1 cbt with a practitioner. I haven’t actually felt any better but actually started to believe I had or was starting to develop depression. I started smoking again drinking more coffee and not doing any regular exercise. My diet was not particularly bad as we do a lot of home cooking but my intake of sugar did increase a lot such as more chocolate sweets. I believe this is perhaps the biggest issue and find it hard to break out of this cycle. I still caanot account however for the memory loss?
    It is also important to understand my personal circumstances. I don’t have classical depression but I have a busy work schedule commute 3 hours a day and look after myhouse and young children feel increincredibly exhausted and feel streesed and anxious a lot. Especially when I am driving to work in traffic.
    Any tips would be appappreciated

    1. Hi Mitch, well as I say in the article, it’s really all about lifestyle and getting it right, taking manageable steps in the right direction.

      You mentioned coffee and sugar, and these are certainly good to reduce. Depression is caused by inflammation, something which is only recently been fully understood, the serotonin thing it turns out, doesn’t stand up well as a hypothesis, although there are things you can do to help your brain make serotonin, like having a carbohydrate only snack before bed. Try a banana or a potato with a little butter as recommended in the book Potatoes Not Prozac. The idea is that insulin removes amino acids from the blood, but not tryptophan, which is then able to get into the brain and be converted to serotonin. This certainly does work. I tried this out by having a carb only meal of salad, rice and fruit and felt quite euphoric and calm afterwards. So a smaller “hit” every day might work well for the long-term.

      Having roots in inflammation, as most chronic diseases do, one of the critical things to address is diet and lifestyle. I would suggest immediately removing all vegetable oils from your diet which are high in omega-6, limiting nuts and seeds, and use only butter, coconut oil, lard, beef fat (tallow) (Tesco sell it as beef dripping), olive oil, palm kernel oil, macadamia nut oil. These are low omega-6 oils. Also limit chicken and other poultry and focus more on fish, shellfish and red meats like beef and lamb. And eat oily fish, say 150 g, 3 or 4 times a week.

      Also, I recommend cutting out all grains apart from white rice, and use potatoes and sweet potatoes more often. So all your carbs come from rice, tubers, and fruit. Grains can be a nasty key that cause a cascade of undesirable effects in the body, so it’s best to avoid them. Also, mainly stick to full fat dairy but not milk….cream and yogurt etc, I use goat’s. Butter is okay.

      So to combat inflammation, there’s lots to get right. I recommend reading Happy Guide to start with to get the big picture and the right mindset, to get ultra clear that our health is the result of many variables that continue for years on end, either positively or negatively affecting health outcomes.

      Luckily for you and me, the true picture of what creates health is now crystallizing, as science is more available to free-thinkers, and communities and health leaders have sprung up to piece it all together. Getting your daily routine nailed and optimized is the key to life long freedom from disease and lots of energy to enjoy life.

      All this new info is a LONG way from being played out in the NHS. It could be 20 years before enough textbooks are updated with today’s science, and as a result, chronic disease is treated with lifestyle intervention to address the true causes, which a multi-factored. One pill is never going to solve anything, it never has. Personally I would not take tryptophan… that is still the pill for an ill mindset, and the body expects nutrients to come packaged with cofactors.

      Now the issue with lifestyle changes, which are the true place to look to correct, is that it is not enough to just know WHAT to do, though God knows it has taken me a long time to pin that down because the health information industry is a mess of confusion. It’s also critical to know HOW to change. Happy Guide has all that covered. If you attempt too much in one go, it will cause a biochemical storm that will mean you will feel worse not better. So you need to take solid steps and allow your body to stabilize with the new normal, then step again, till you have the best lifestyle for long-term health and happiness.

  11. Thank you Dr Kinnaird for your attentive and rapid response. It is really appreciated. I need to give myself a break as well sometimes and take a few steps back looking at the bigger picture. I will take your dietary requirement tips seriously and give this a go and have downloaded the free first chapter of happy guide. I’ll let you know the outcome in a few months time.

    1. Yes, please do let me know how it goes. I’m not a doctor by the way. And unfortunately your doctor is usually not the best person to go to with chronic problems — they’re not trained in the true solution to these issues, which is always lifestyle. They can be very helpful for diagnostics however, like checking vitamin levels, blood lipids, infections etc.

      If you want professional help, naturopathy or Functional Medicine is more likely to pinpoint the true causes and corrections for you. It’s a shame that naturopathy isn’t the first port of call and not allopathy, and that is because of money. Pills are good business. For example, statins and anti-depressants alone are worth billions in business, amazing when you consider they don’t actually work, they make the situation worse, and that the true solutions are hidden from people. I call it scandalous.

      The truth is that we all need the SAME lifestyle, and the body is always trying to be well. So our approach is to identify what that lifestyle is, and move into it. That in itself is a challenge, but the rewards are immense… energy, health, happiness and life-long freedom from disease.

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