Non-pharmacological management of depression

Health care professionals are pivotal to the care of people with mental health care problems such as depression. Primary care providers are often the first port-of-call for those looking for help, they provide initial care, and are also involved in ongoing monitoring and management of individual patients.1,2

Many effective non-pharmacological strategies have been shown to reduce depressive symptoms and improve quality of life. These include established options such as cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy, as well as a number of lesser-known approaches for which supporting evidence is emerging,3,4 including

  • e-Mental health tools
  • physical exercise
  • relaxation techniques
  • mindfulness-based CBT
  • behavioural activation, and
  • interpersonal counselling.

Find out more about recent evidence for the effectiveness of non-drug options in depression treatment in Medicinewise News February 2016.

Watch video interviews with Professor Gavin Andrews* answering questions about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and computer-based CBT in general practice:

  • Who should I refer for CBT?
  • When is it better to use CBT over antidepressants and vice versa?
  • How many sessions are needed?
  • How does online CBT work?

*Professor of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, and Director, Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CRUfAd), UNSW and St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, NSW

The views in these videos are those of Professor Gavin Andrews. This information is not medical advice from NPS and should not be used to treat or diagnose your own or another person's medical condition. Any medical questions should be referred to a qualified healthcare professional.


  1. McGorry PD, Goldstone S. Is this normal? Assessing mental health in young people. Aust Fam Physician 2011;40:94-7. [PubMed].
  2. National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). Depression: the treatment and management of depression in adults (updated edition). Leicester (UK): British Psychological Society, 2010. [PubMed].
  3. beyondblue. A guide to what works for depression. 2013. 2 [Online].
  4. Sarris J, et al. Lifestyle medicine for depression. BMC Psychiatry 2014;14:107. [Online].