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Practice mindfulness
What if you could retrain your brain to respond differently to your thoughts? That’s the basis of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a method recently shown to prevent relapse into depression among some participants in a two-year study of depressive patients in the United Kingdom. Half the group was weaned off of maintenance antidepressants and introduced to a system of daily homework assignments and group mindfulness therapy sessions that helped them overcome relapse when they were exposed to depression triggering scenarios. The other half continued taking antidepressants only. Researchers found that the rate of relapse was slightly lower for the MBCT group (44 percent) than for the antidepressant group (47 percent), but that both therapies resulted in positive outcomes.
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Take roseroot herb
Researchers who conducted a study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine have promising news for people who suffer from depression, but react poorly to prescription medicine. After 12 weeks of receiving either Rhodiola rosea (roseroot), the conventional antidepressant sertraline (or Zoloft), or a placebo, patients taking roseroot had 1.4 times the odds of improvement vs. 1.9 times with sertraline — a marginal difference. But in terms of side effects, the study was a blowout. Sixty-three percent of the sertraline group reported side effects, most commonly nausea and sexual dysfunction, while only 30 percent of the patients taking roseroot reported any side effects at all.
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Work up a sweat regularly
There have been many studies examining the effects of exercise on depression. In 2013, researchers at the University of Toronto undertook a study of all the studies from the past 26 years — 6,363 of them to be exact. They ended up focusing on 30 high-quality studies and discovered that 25 demonstrated regular physical activity lowers your risk of depression. Physical activity in the studies ranged from 20 to 30 minutes a day of walking and gardening to more intense cardiovascular exercise.
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Get a massage
Not all depression remedies have to be hard work. In an analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2010, Dr. W.H. Hou examined 17 different studies and found that massage therapy is significantly associated with alleviated depressive symptoms.

“One of the things that can bring on depression is chronic pain,” says Mikal-Flynn. “Anything you can do to reduce the pain — acupuncture, massage, etc. — will also help with depression.”
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Spend time in the sun
Here’s a two-for-one special for you: Plain, old sunshine has been proven to ease depression and protect your brain function. A 2009 study published in the journal Environmental Health followed 16,800 participants aged 45-plus and found that sunlight exposure regulated serotonin and melatonin and had a positive effect on cognitive function.

In related news, a 2011 study of more than 80,000 post-menopausal women found that participants who ate foods with more vitamin D, a compound your body produces naturally in response to sun exposure, had a 20 percent lower risk of depressive symptoms.
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Try pet therapy
Nearly 80 million households in the U.S. own a cat or a dog or both, which means they probably already know that animal companions are seriously good for your health. A 2012 study found that hanging with Fido reduces stress and improves trust, empathy and mood, among other benefits. Researchers believe the beneficial effects are due to increased oxytocin, the powerful hormone your body releases during hugging, touching and orgasm that promotes trust and generosity.

“I recommend pet therapy,” says Mikal-Flynn. “Get a cat or dog. Petting them affects your brain chemistry.”
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