This 16 minutes talk by clinical psychologist Susan Heitler provides helpful insights into dealing with depressive and negative thoughts without the use of medication. What she proposes is looking first at what in your life may be causing you to feel the way you do.
The analogy of the common cold is helpful. While a common cold can be quite mild, in the short term it can leave you feeling quite miserable. There is also the risk of the cold developing into something more serious like a sinus infection or even pneumonia. For these reasons it is important to pay attention to when you find yourself persistently discouraged, with low energy, self-critical and irritable with others. Our modern assumption to quickly assume such feelings are due to a chemical imbalance has led to an over-diagnosis by doctors of depression, (See Is The Rate Of Depression Actually Increasing Or Not?)
The reason this is so important is the tendency in our modern world to look for a quick fix. This has become hugely important as the prescription for antidepressant medication has dramatically increased over the last few decades with no clear evidence that clinical depression has actually increased. For example from 2011 figures at least 1 in 10 Americans are on antidepressant medication and for women in their 30s and 40s this figure is around 1 in 4. (See Why Has There Been a 400% Increase In The Prescribing Of Antidepressants?) I also write about my own experience of how your lifestyle can be leading to depressive thinking here).
Susan Heitler expands on her Conflict Resolution Theory of depression, or more simply 'Bump Therapy'!
The first step or prescription is to identify the particular hurdle or obstacle in your life that you find yourself feeling disappointed about. The more specific you can be then the more likely you are to find a solution or way through that challenge.
The second prescription is what she calls 'pump up' or identify the resources or tools at your disposal. Dr Heitler gives an example on the video of this with a client of hers called Julie. You may also find of interest the article and video with Amy Morin called Are You Looking For Inner Strength?
The third prescription is then by looking at potential solutions to the challenge you are facing and deciding on which is most appropriate for you. For more on this see What Fills You Up And What Drains You Down?
In combination these three steps can significantly reduce the risk 'the common cold of mental illness' does not develop into something more serious or insidious in your life.
What in your own life have you find helpful to deal with depressive thoughts and feelings?
You may also find of interest:
My own personal journey with depressive thinking in my late teens at Just As I Am