Drugs are over prescribed
If anti-depressants work, why do so many people still have depression? Why are there more people depressed now than ever? Particularly in an era when more people around the world are medicated than at any time in history.
Part One - The Problems Here
In any regard, anti-depressants are really a simple bandaging of the problem. Sure some people with severe mental health problems need to be on medication. Schizophrenia for example. I'm talking about your everyday person. So many more people are on them now compared to even twenty years ago.
There are many things people can do to help themselves.
Exercise. Even basic walking every day can help stimulate endorphins. It's also good to get out into the fresh air and away from the home. Sitting at home can stimulate depression and anxiety. Our bodies need to move. Do something daily, even if it's only stretching at home. I guarantee afterwards you will feel better, even if only 20%. It's better than where you were before.
Diet. I find sugar and coffee can increase mental health problems. Put Crap In, Get Crap Out. Doesn't mean you have to go all natural etc. on some horrendous diet. Just eat decently and avoid too much sugar. That includes drinking enough water too. Avoiding alcohol and drugs is an obvious one. They help short term, for a few hours, but kick your ass in the days afterwards.
Sleep. Without good quality sleep, life is shit. Let's face it. Prioritize trying to get enough hours to sleep. Don't stay up all night. Whatever you need to do, aim for eight hours. Get a routine going. Get up at a certain time, even if you didn't get enough sleep. That night you will be extra tired and sleep much better. It's crucial for your mental well being.
Reduce stress. Again, whatever you need to do, walk away from stressful situations. Let go of things that you have no control of. Which is most things in life, for us all. Simplify your life. It definitely helped me. Stress on it's own is a killer.
Tech/Social Media. Get off the tech. It's an obvious one but our obsession with our phones etc. is making us depressed. It gives us a quick fix perhaps but studies have proven that people become envious of others and their 'great lives' (a misrepresentation) and ultimately lowers our self-esteem. It's also cutting ourselves from real life connections in lieu of 'catching up' electronically. Many, if not most, spend more time with their phone than any one real person.
Meditation. This works for some. Even some deep breathing exercises, (there are many good ones on YouTube) can help. Try sitting for ten minutes once a day, if not several times, and just concentrate on your breathing. Let go of internal negative thoughts.
Counselling. It's often hard to pinpoint the problem. Or you know the problem but don't know how to fix it. Either way, talking with someone can help you get to the core of your issues. They can also provide good coping mechanisms to suit your particular needs.
Other people. Being with others can be difficult, though just one or two good friends can be of benefit. Being alone is often sought when depressed but having company can lift us. A sympathetic ear is often all we need. Not advice.
Distractions. There are many techniques to get out of your own head. A good distraction can really help. Some do exercise. Binge watching TV isn't a great one as you're inactive, which can exacerbate the problem. Journaling can help you get feelings off your chest. Get outdoors. Do something. Start a craft. Something physical with the hands. Even doing household chores can help.
Gratitude. There are good things in life, even if it's hard to see. Write down a few of them and repeat them over every day. You'll be surprised what's already right in front of you. You just have to get them through to your subconscious through repetition. Write them down every day, or at least, read them back every day.
Purpose. We all need it. Without it, we stagnate. What's yours? Don't have one? Find one.
Journaling. Writing your feelings down can help you sort out where the problems are. It's a healing process in and of itself and incredibly beneficial. The act of using hands and contemplation alone is good. Practice that gratitude especially.
Don't forget this resource. Coping Techniques A to Z | The Withdrawal Project Even if not withdrawing it has many great techniques for mental health problems.
These suggestions are not enough on their own. It's a multi faceted approach. All of them working together will help with a large proportion of problems, if not more. Being out in nature alone is good for the mood. Even a park. We did not evolve living in concrete. Neither is a pill a magic solution. There are none.
Some problems can be lifelong. Mine certainly have been. Over forty-five years. However, if I knew even some of those suggestions when I was young my life would have been much better. My mother took me to a doctor as a teenager. I was told I had Hypoglycemia and to avoid sugar. They were clueless. I ended up self medicating when I discovered alcohol from 16 onwards. After a few close calls, assaults, accidents, overdoses, it wasn't until my late 30's when I was prescribed anti-depressants. They helped. Briefly. A few years perhaps. When they stopped working, that's when I tried to come off. And the horror began.
I am not a health professional so seek your own advice, though be careful with doctors as they are the vessel with which drug companies pass. Seek counselling before a doctor. Unless of course, you're considering self harm and are in desperate straits, in which case a pill may help short term. I'm merely saying there are alternatives that should be explored in addition to, or in place of medication.
Mental issues are bad enough but having to deal with horrendous, possibly permanent withdrawals/side effects from drugs can make your life a living nightmare, which some people never recover from.