5 Anti-Depressants That You Don’t Need A Prescription For

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Everybody’s different. For some people, medication can (and should) be the answer, or at least a part of that equation, when it comes to their mental health struggles, and well being. For myself, anti-depressants never seemed to work. And so, I found I had to get a little bit creative. And because today is all about sharing our stories, our struggles, and our solutions, I thought I’d share a few with you. 



I’d heard for years about how important a gratitude journal was. But it wasn’t until last year that I really committed to it. I wound up with about 300 days of gratitude, all tracked through an app on my phone. Some days that was just something simple, being thankful for a dog walk, a cup of coffee with a friend, or my health. What happened over time was honestly pretty remarkable. Gratitude has changed the way that I see the world, in real time. I’ve found that especially powerful on the hard days, and when shitty things happen. It doesn’t mean hard things don’t befall you, it just means that you’re able to remember that there’s also a lot of blessings to count alongside the tough stuff. 


Again, you hear people say it’s important, but you’re not really sure how to do it, where to start, or if there could really be the much of a difference made in your life just from something like meditating. Holy shit, was I wrong. As a guy whose brain is chronically moving too fast, and often has his imagination running wild, meditation has proven to be a way of slowing things down. Giving me a minute to think shit through, or process the emotions that I’m feeling. It can be as simple as learning to remember to take a breath, or something you practice with daily reading, writing, yoga, walking, whatever. 

NAC, or N-acetylcysteine.

It’s an amino acid, a supplement you can buy in the grocery store or on Amazon. I’ve been taking this for a few months, and I’m surprised at the difference its made in helping me break some negative thought spirals, emotionally regulate, and keep my head where I want and need it to be. Before you start taking anything, it’s always worth doing some reading, and talking to your doctor, so I’d encourage you to do that.

Why does NAC help many people with psychiatric diagnoses? Why does it work across so many conditions? This is the intriguing thing, in my eyes. Are its benefits a result of its anti-inflammatory effects? Or some other mechanism? On a clinical level, in day-to-day work with patients, NAC seems to help with ruminations, with difficult-to-control extreme negative self-thoughts. Such thoughts are common in depression and anxiety disorders, and also in eating disorders, schizophrenia, OCD, etc. I’ve seen it help patients with such disorders when many other things, medicines or psychotherapies, have not helped much.

NAC doesn’t always work, but when it does, troubling irrational thoughts gradually decrease in intensity and frequency and often fade away. Negative thoughts (e.g., “I’m a bad person," or “Nobody likes me”) or ruminations about other people (“Will that girl like me?”) or about health issues (“Do I have AIDS?’) that can’t be quieted by reasonable evidence to the contrary, and that keep intruding on one’s awareness hour after hour, day after day despite all rational efforts to control, seem to diminish. Or, if they continue to occur, they are less distressing, and can be observed from more of a distance, with less worry or fear, and are less likely to trigger depression or other negative effects.


Trust your people with your shit.

One thing I’m guilty of (as many guys are), is thinking people don’t want to be bothered with your shit. Believe me when I say, nothing could be further from the truth. You’ve got people who are so eager to show up for you, who want to know what you’re going through, and help you with it. But if you don’t share it, they’re just left to guess. Having people that know exactly what’s up (and often what’s wrong) with me helps my people show up for me, and keeps me from feeling like a guy with a whole bunch of crazy bouncing around between his ears. That could be a family member, a coworker, a friend, a pen pal, whoever. There’s something to be said about just saying your shit out loud. Which leads me perfectly to my final non-prescription anti-depressant…


At one point last year, I was going to three therapists at once. Currently, only one. And you know what? I’ll never not be in therapy. I’ve made that commitment to myself, because I know the world of difference it makes, having someone to coach me through the tough stuff, and also celebrate the victories. At minimum, I have therapy every two weeks, and I can't imagine life without it. 


Ultimately, none of these things might work for you. Maybe it’ll be drinking more water, exercise, journaling, getting a dog, cannabis, boxing, hypnotherapy, or cold showers that’ll do the trick. Those were a few others I didn’t have time to expand on. Or maybe, it’s something totally different. Hell, maybe it’s medication. I guess what I’m trying to say is, your mental health is worth getting curious about. It’s worth investing in. It’s worth fixing when you’re not doing ok, whatever that looks like for you.