Non-drug treatment for depression: literature review

Dorina Buliauskaitė1, Laurita Jasiūnaitė1, Iveta Balsytė1,

1 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine


The high prevalence of mental disorders is one of the biggest and most pressing issues of modern public health [1]. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of depression is between 3% and 5% of the world’s population [2]. Depression is a common disease that severely limits psychosocial functioning and reduces quality of life. 2008 The WHO predicted that by 2030 the disease would will be the world’s first morbidity [13]. The term “depression” is quite widely used both in everyday language and in scientific literature, and is understood ambiguously. It can be said that the concept of depression encompasses a variety of states that can vary both in severity and in duration. Depression may be accompanied by symptoms such as depressed mood, lack of strength, despair, impaired concentration, as well as somatic symptoms such as headache, muscle, bone pain, gastrointestinal disorders, and so on. Antidepressants are used to treat depression. The effects of medical treatment are clear, investigated and effective. However, non-drug depression treatment is often overlooked. Physical activity is increasingly quoted in scientific literature as an alternative to treating depression as a medicine. In foreign literature, it is proposed to use medication and non-medical depression treatment in combination with conventional drug depression treatment, and physical exercise significantly improves the condition of patients with severe depression. Non-medical treatment includes: physical activity, educational poetics therapy and music therapy. Physical activity reduces not only the symptoms of depression and anxiety in severe depression but also improves subjective sleep and health-related quality of life. The use of literature in therapy also has a strong impact on the person’s emotions, imagination, and therefore triggers more memories that reveal the personal meanings of the individual’s experience. Educational poetics therapy, regardless of the severity of the disease, improves the biological, psychological and social factors of the sick person. Music therapy research has shown that music therapy can have a positive effect on mental health. This article reviews Lithuanian and foreign literature on non-medical measures to reduce the symptoms of depression, and discusses their effectiveness.

Keywords: depression, non-drug treatment, therapy, music, literature