23 Surprisingly Effective Treatments for Depression

 (One Year Later)

For the live-updated, interactive version of this infographic, click here.

A year ago, we published one of our most popular findings – 6 surprisingly effective treatments for depression. I went ahead and repeated the analysis today, and now we have 23 treatments in the “surprisingly effective” category for depression.

This chart is based on 4,956 people with depression who participated in CureTogether surveys, compared to 944 people last year.

The top treatments are still exercise, sleep, and talking to others – they are popular and effective ways to feel better when you’re depressed.

But here are 23 things you may not have tried that thousands of others say worked well for them:

1. Music therapy
2. Art therapy
3. Mindful meditation
4. Massage therapy
5. Group sports
6. Breathwork
7. Light therapy
8. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
9. Neurofeedback
10. Tai Chi
11. Personal growth workshops
12. Support groups
13. Xanax
14. Sertralin
15. Venlaxafin
16. Mirtazapine
17. Shiatsu
18. Dialectical Behavior Therapy
19. Lamictal
20. Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
21. Bibliotherapy
22. Synthroid
23. SAM-e

Another new thing on this chart: alcohol was added as a treatment, and was rated to make depression worse instead of better.

To navigate the graph above:

The top right quadrant shows the most popular and effective treatments, and the top left quadrant shows treatments that not many people have tried but that have above-average effectiveness, so they may be options to think about (e.g. the 23 treatments listed above).

Treatments in the lower right quadrant are ones that lots of people have tried but that have below-average effectiveness (e.g. caffeine, fish oil), and treatments in the lower left quadrant are reported as neither popular nor effective, so you may want to consider this when choosing a treatment (e.g. Effexor, Paxil).

Where did this data come from? CureTogether members have been anonymously sharing symptoms and treatments for almost 3 years now. We analyzed and visualized the data into infographic form to make it more accessible. To thank everyone for their contributions, we’re releasing this result back to the community for free.

This is part of our regular series of research findings. Of course, with each of these findings, there is a potential bias in patient self-selection and recall. Every research study has some bias, so we present these findings as just what they are – patient-reported data – to stimulate discussion and generate new insights for further research. Stay tuned for more and please let us know in the comments below if this was helpful or interesting for you.

Click here for the live-updated, interactive version of this infographic, with all the dots labeled.

This is how it happened.

When my amazing CureTogether co-founder Daniel Reda flipped his screen around to show me this infographic, my excitement at how beautiful it looked was quickly replaced by my curiosity for what it showed. I knew exercise, sleep, and therapy were popular and effective treatments for depression.

But a few things surprised me. Fish oil, also popular, showed up as much less effective than I expected. And light therapy, which not many people have tried, was quite effective. Take a look at it for yourself and see if anything surprises you.

Where did this data come from? CureTogether members have been sharing symptoms and treatments for almost 2 years now. For this infographic, information was anonymously analyzed from 944 people in our Depression community.


For people who want more details on the chart:
– x-axis (popularity) = the fraction of respondents who tried a given treatment
– y-axis (effectiveness) = the average rated effectiveness of a given treatment, Bayes-adjusted for the number of respondents
– Vertical grey line = the average fraction of respondents who tried each treatment
– Horizontal grey line = the average rated effectivenss of all treatments
– Quadrants – Treatments in the upper-left quadrant have below-average usage, but above-average effectiveness, so presumably more people would benefit by trying these. Those in the lower-right quadrant have above-average usage but below-average effectiveness, so presumably more people would benefit by avoiding these.

As in




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