How Do You Overcome Depression Without Medication or Therapy?

Thousands of individuals have successfully overcome depression with the help of the Option Institute. Whether you are dealing with feelings of sadness, clinical depression, post-partum depression or any other variation, we can help. Review the information below to see how.

Who Struggles with Depression?

In 2015, around 16.1 million adults aged 18 years or older in the U.S. had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, which represented 6.7 percent of all American adults (

Depression Checklist
On their website, the National Foundation for Depressive Illness displays the following checklist of signs and symptoms for depressive illness:

Loss of energy and interest.
Diminished ability to enjoy oneself.
Decreased – or increased – sleeping or appetite.
Difficulty in concentrating; indecisiveness; slowed or fuzzy thinking.
Exaggerated feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety.
Feelings of worthlessness.
Recurring thoughts about death and suicide.

And it isn’t just Americans who are dealing with depression in record numbers. Whether it is typical clinical depression, postpartum depression, teen depression, or any other variety of the disorder, depression is now common worldwide. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 322 million people worldwide live with depression (, 2018). According to the World Health Organization, the incidence of depression is doubling every ten years and will be, by 2020, the most pervasive illness in the world and the second major cause of death.

Although so many people struggle with depression, the treatments they are offered tend to, ultimately, still leave them feeling like victims. In many cases, medication is recommended as the only depression treatment that can truly help. (And people have reported that medication has provided relief.) However, if you would prefer an attitudinal approach – without medication, read on.

Depression is most often seen as something that “happens” to you, or something you have to learn to “live with.”

How the Option Institute Can Help You Overcome Depression Without Medication or Traditional Talk Therapy

We have found that depression comes from particular sets of beliefs and ways of thinking. Rather than it “happening” to us, there are perspectives we adopt which fuel our depression. This is not an indictment of those facing depression – it is good news!

We can offer you a possible way out. Without medications. Without accusations. Rather, with practical, self-empowering tools that can offer you the opportunity to uncover the depression-fueling beliefs and preconceptions you hold, change them, and, potentially, begin to provide you with real depression relief.

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Depression Help at The Option Institute: Personal Stories

By the time I’d reached my mid-30’s, I’d achieved what most people would agree was a successful life, a home in an affluent suburb, 2 cars, a swimming pool, a middle management position with a Fortune 100 electronics company and a career on the rise. Then one day my wife of fifteen years told me she wanted a divorce and, when we sought help in family counseling, I learned that my pride and joy, my two sons, felt distant and afraid of me.

I had always taken my frequent angry outbursts for granted. After all, my father, my uncles, my brothers all behaved that way. Naturally I would be an angry person too. But now I recognized that my anger was separating me from everything I loved. It was too late to save my marriage. But maybe I could still salvage the relationships with my sons. I decided to control the expression of my anger, no matter what it cost me inside. Then a friend introduced me to the books of Barry Neil Kaufman and the idea that happiness is a choice.  READ MORE

Intrigued, I traveled to The Option Institute for private sessions. During this time I had the opportunity to examine my own vision of life as well as the beliefs and attitudes underlying my anger and depression. I realized that I believed I had no other choice besides getting angry or depressed when things didn’t go well for me. But through the gentle and non-judgmental dialogue sessions, I realized that I did have other choices – that I could treat the events of my life as misfortunes or as opportunities. I chose to do the latter. That decision has transformed my entire life. I stopped feeling bad about myself. I began to have fun. My energy increased. My productivity improved. I started to enjoy my work.

Today I’m no longer on medication. I’m happy, confident, optimistic for the future. My career has taken an exciting new turn. And my relationship with my sons has never been better.
Richard Magan

Computer Sales Manager, Massachusetts

I have suffered from depression for the last 17 years. For a long time, I thought Prozac was the only solution. I struggled with feelings and judgements of my own self-worth and what I believed I could and couldn’t have. I questioned my role as a mother, a woman, and an African-American, all because I believed that I was stuck with my life and my past and there was little I could do to change it. All the while I was having this internal struggle, I was dealing with the very real illness of my only son, Chris, who was diagnosed with AIDS.

I heard about The Option Institute from a dear friend of mine around the same time I got the news that Chris was dying. Chris had decided to stop taking his medication and allow himself to die. My friend and I had taken seminars together for the past 20 years, so I agreed to join him at The Option Institute for a one week program.  READ MORE

When we arrived at the Institute, it was only 4 months since Chris’s death. I was ready for anything.

The program completely changed how I look at my life. When the teachers talked about how we define reality, I finally understood that we are always choosing how we respond to the events in life and, in that way, we are always making up our own reality through those choices. What a breakthrough that was! I realized that I didn’t have to accept that I would be depressed for the rest of my life and that I could choose to live in the moment instead of the past.

I also realized that Chris’s choice to stop taking his medication was his choice and Chris’s was his life. Understanding that finally gave me the freedom to accept his illness and his death in a way that 10 years of therapy had not. Not only could Chris rest in peace, but now so could I. I was finally free to live my life as I chose.

I enrolled in the Living the Dream, 2 weeks after my first program. I’m excited about bringing the principles and technology of The Option Process back to the African- American community in any way I can. Today my life is filled with more challenges that I look forward to and a new anticipation of living life on the edge – because a life isn’t a life unless you live it, moment to moment. The most amazing thing is that I no longer feel depressed about my past or my future.
Linda Craft-Smith

Party Planning Director, California

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The Option Institute and its teachers have had the honor to present programs (during the last four decades) that explore the attitudes and beliefs we have (and may want to change) and to help program participants find their own answers to questions about relationships, careers, family challenges and health issues. Our new program, Health & Healing: Navigating Life’s Health Challenges (formerly '5 Days to Live') , focuses on navigating significant health challenges and decision-making with greater ease, clarity, and clear purpose.

We are not a medical facility and we do not dispense any medical advice. We have and would always guide our program participants, to consult with their doctors, healthcare providers, and family members in making medical decisions for themselves and those they love. Neither Mass General Hospital nor any member of its medical staff endorses any program being offered by the Option Institute and its teachers.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration



PRE-REQUISITES for attending Advanced Power Dialogues are:

  • Completion of The Option Institute’s PowerDialogues program.
  • If it’s been more than 5 years since you attended PowerDialogues, please call 413-229-2100 to discuss options.

NOTE: Attendance of live sessions via Zoom are required to complete this course.

Please note, this is a per-person registration


Dear Donor,

Jeannie Reid was searching for answers to the challenges she and her family were facing. Jeannie and her husband Stuart’s son, Carson, had been diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, a condition on the Autism spectrum. For Carson that meant being completely involved in obsessive behaviors and only using minimal words to identify objects, as well as frequently and completely melting down.

Soon after, Jeannie found the book, “Son-Rise: The Miracle Continues” and when she read it, she KNEW she had found what she was looking for. She began using some of the Son-Rise techniques described in the book on her own until she was able to come to The Autism Treatment Center of America for the Son-Rise Program Start-Up. As she put into practice what she learned there, Carson’s world was opening up. Today Carson is attending a Montessori school as a 'typical' student and functioning at or above typical grade level, being fully verbal and conversational, and very interested in learning about the world and interacting as much as possible with other people. He is even taking swim lessons at the local YMCA and doing great!

“It has been wonderful to get, and stay connected with other people and Son-Rise parents from all over the world. My son’s progress had already come very far, but now I truly believe we can go all the way!”

Jeannie wrote.

Stuart Reid then attended the Empower Yourself course and brought home a new sense of clarity, balance and personal power. He shared his new empowerment with Jeannie and she in turn gained in confidence, strength and enthusiasm. Their own relationship began to flourish anew, as well. Life-altering changes were happening for Jeannie and her family.

Jeannie journeyed again to Sheffield, this time for the Fearless course at The Option Institute to help her recognize and overcome her personal obstacles. Jeannie wanted to continue her amazing journey as she had found using the techniques she learned in The Son-Rise Program and in Fearless had absolutely changed the lives of everyone in her family.

But, because the Reids’ finances had been seriously stretched by then, their next steps were put on hold. Then an amazing event changed everything. Jeannie’s college roommate and lifelong friend decided to start a Son-Rise Program scholarship fund for people from the Cleveland area. Since then Jeannie has been able to move ahead with her courses, taking Radical Authenticity, Son-Rise Maximum Impact and Son-Rise Wide Awake ... and eventually she became a Certified Group Facilitator.

Jeannie Reid’s story is about wanting BIG and making it happen. She is about to embark on her renewed private practice as an art therapist, and plans to be a super advocate for The Son-Rise Program in her area. Her wonderful new life is a product of her persistence and belief, and of the wheels she helped set in motion for others when her friends learned of how she and her family had been impacted by The Son-Rise Program.

“I know I will be able to give back by helping others, and that will be the top of my personal mountain! Thank you to everyone who donates! You are making a big difference in the world!

Jeannie Reid


Dear Donor

Two years ago, Antonio's kindergarten teacher told us something was not quite right with our little boy. He was not socializing, he somersaulted all the time and hardly spoke at all. At the time I was working for a municipality close to Florence, Italy and basically I had nothing left after seeing to basic necessities.

In the meantime, I looked up Autism with Google and as I was also looking for happiness and personal growth, I was guided to The Option Institute, thence the Autism Treatment Center of America. I read up as much as I could and started trying to apply the “Happiness is a Choice” suggestions. I'm not quite good at it but it has helped me with attitude, and everything else that seemed trying is really different after all this.

When I decided to come for The Son-Rise Program Start-Up, I really had little or no money to pay for it. I spoke to my friends, old and new. My mother helped me, friends I thought couldn't [help] tried their very best and the scholarship did the rest.

What the scholarship did was give a HUGE boost to my fundraising. About six friends contributed the rest, at the travel agency a very kind lady who I may now call a friend helped me some more. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. Here I am, happy to have attended the Start-Up program and looking forward to learning more and praying to God for guidance.

So the gist of the matter is, I am a happy mum who hopes to implement a wonderful relationship with her child and is riding a not so easy moment with lots of hope in her heart and THANK YOU is not enough for what I feel. I still remember William's words, “If you do what you've always done, you will get what you've always got.” Now I'm trying to do different, bit by bit, day by day. I feel the difference already.

About Antonio ... we are going on with the Italian program and I play with Antonio after school in a quiet room in the house. Knowing what the little guy is exposed to (he's always putting his fingers in his ears and he seems to have problems with too much light in his eyes), I find him very brave as he bears it tolerably. Drums a lot to digest it all.

When we went to the doctor, just weeks after starting the program at home, she told me that she found him more attentive. His attention span has increased. He is also tagging or pulling at one's arm when looking for attention. The child psychologist last Saturday reported the same thing and what's more, my son has always required that I enter the room, hence assisting in every session. Well, this time he went in along with the doctor and told me, “See you later.”

At school, his teacher who speaks English as well, read up and watched my DVD (Kyle’s Journey, Jade and “I want my little boy back”). Now she's changing, bit by bit and I do appreciate that very much. He seems to be OK with her and actually sent me away from class this morning, again telling me, “See you later.”

He is now ONE HUGE GREENLIGHT and I'm hoping to be able to really have volunteers (still looking), raise funds and settle down to business.

God bless,



Dear Donor,

I am the mother of three children, all on the Autism Spectrum. Before I heard of the Son-Rise Program and the Option Institute, I was a desperate, angry and depressed person…. I was on Anti-depressants, sleeping multiple hours of the day, and for a period of time, using alcohol to run away from my pain.

Then I heard of the Son-Rise Program. I called to find out more about it and thought “this if for me!” But I could not afford it. You see raising one child with Autism is very expensive but raising three is just outrageously expensive with all the therapies and dietary interventions that we were doing.

But I was offered a full scholarship to the SRSU program. I have since attended all of the Son-Rise Programs and many of the Personal Growth programs offered by the Option Institute.  Each time I have been given a scholarship and each time I go I learn more about who I am and I change for the better each and every time.  Because of your most generous support, my children are recovering from Autism, I have found happiness in my life!  I am no longer on anti-depressants and I have so much more energy.

YOU are the reason that my family is in recovery. It is because of YOU that my oldest son now is enjoying school.  YOU are the reason my second son is speaking. YOU are the reason my daughter is no longer as rigid and controlling as she once was.  Thank you does not even begin to cover how much gratitude I have for you.  I thank God every day for you and I do not even know you.

Please know that you are changing lives with your donation to ATCA and the OI.  It is because of you that every day people are getting the help that they need. Thank you, thank you and thank you!

With so much love,

Kerry Rihtar