NRS-490-RS-Scholarly Activity Summary


The scholarly activity intended to answer the question of how a patient suffering from mild depression can be treated using non-pharmacological therapies. It called attention to the fact that pharmacological therapies have not been as effective as would have been expected and are accompanied by risks to the patient, which could even include death. Using secondary information from peer-reviewed publications, the scholarly activity explored the different non-pharmacological therapies that are available to a patient suffering from mild depression. It identified a guided self-help approach, psychological therapy, and structured exercises as the best approaches. In addition, it pointed out that complementary and alternative therapies should only be used as secondary treatment approaches. It concluded with the acknowledgment that mild depression can only be treated by either pharmacological or non-pharmacological approaches, with cognitive behavioral therapy offering the best approach. Treatment would target the symptoms on the understanding the effectively addressing them ensures that the mild depression is managed. NRS-490-RS-Scholarly Activity Summary



Mild depression is a common medical condition that is more readily accepted today that it once was. In fact, it is considered as an anomalous emotional state that is described by inflated emotional states that include feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, worthlessness, dejection, melancholy and sadness that are not only inappropriate but are also out of proportion to the reality. Although the conditions are typically precipitated by traumatic events, the individual who suffers mild depression will find it difficult to express his or her feelings while exhibiting loss of joy and interest in previously enjoyable activities, sleeplessness, inability to concentrate in any activity, and a general lack of motivation. Non-pharmacological treatment of the condition includes guided self-help approach, psychological therapy, structured exercises, complementary and alternative therapies, and nutritional supplements and herbal remedies (Marchand, 2012).

At the core of raising the awareness of mild depression is the understanding that it is an ailment caused by brain chemical imbalances. Within the brain, some neurons transmit messages across synapses and between nerves. To facilitate that transmission, the brain produces chemical neurotransmitters that include serotonin, which may be deficient in individuals with mild depression. The implication is that message transmission within the brain is compromised, and the brain neurons are unable to function normally, resulting in the individual having little to no control over behavior, feelings, and thoughts. This individual develops a negative outlook on life (Marchand, 2012). Thus, treatment of mild depression will target the chemical neurotransmitters, seeking to increase their effectiveness and facilitate messages transmission within the brain. NRS-490-RS-Scholarly Activity Summary

The most common treatment applied to mild depression involves the use of prescription medication and pharmacological therapies. Acton (2013) reports that pharmacological management of depression has significant side effects, which include dangerous drug interactions, cardiovascular, dermatologic, endocrine-metabolic, gastrointestinal, hematologic, neurologic, psychiatric, and reproductive problems. Other undesirable side effects of antidepressants include anxiety, abdominal pain, dry mouth, headache, dizziness and fainting spells, nausea and gagging, excessive sweating, apathy, insomnia, somnolence, symptoms discontinuation, sexual difficulties, and an increase in weight. In addition, serotonin syndrome, epilepsy and convulsions, heart arrhythmia, menstrual disorders, parkinsonism, extrapyramidal disorders, headache, paraesthesia, vision disorder, congenital disorders, muscle and joint complaints, laboratory abnormalities, and rashes in the form of pruritus and urticaria. The more significant side effects include hospitalization and an increased risk of suicidal ideation. Many would consider these side effects far worse than their potential benefit of enhancing the patient’s mood. This is not an ideal scenario since medical intervention is targeted at preserving life (Acton, 2013). The implication is that there is a need to explore treatment approaches with acceptable efficacy but fewer or no undesirable side effects.


Given the undesirable negative effects linked with antidepressants use in managing depression, there is a need to explore non-pharmacological treatment options since they are low-intensity interventions.

The first non-pharmacological treatment option is guided self-help approach. This strategy involves providing the patient with the literature on the condition so as to improve his understanding and facilitate the development of a step program as part of the treatment plan. It is designed as a self-administered intervention strategy whereby the health care practitioner who treats the patient introduces a range of reading material that has been derived from evidence-based interventions and designed specifically for the case. The practitioner then monitors the patient’s use of the self-help reading materials, lending facilitative and supportive aid in helping the patient to achieve a higher level of awareness that enables control of mild depression symptoms (Carr, 2012; Williams et al., 2013). Applying this strategy would entail offering the patient literature that informs him of his condition and how best to tackle it for positive outcomes. In addition, the patient can be assigned to a self-help group with other mild depression patients and facilitated by an individual who has been trained in facilitation, conflict management, and listening. The group would be linked to a medical facility that offers promotion, support, and resources for the patients while using a recovery focused approach with confidentiality policies.

The second non-pharmacological treatment option is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is a low-intensity psychosocial treatment approach that focuses on addressing the psychological symptoms on the understanding that eliminating them would effectively treat the condition. In essence, CBT works under the premise that the psychological symptoms expressed by the persons suffering from mild depression are all linked to the interaction between emotions, behavior, and thoughts. As such, specifically targeting emotions, behavior, and thoughts will reduce the psychological symptoms of mild depression (Orgeta et al., 2015; Smith, 2012). NRS-490-RS-Scholarly Activity Summary

The third non-pharmacological treatment option is structured exercises. They are documented to release endorphins that alleviate the depression symptoms. In addition, physical activities have been shown to divert the patient from negative skills even as he or she learns new skills. Physical activity has a tranquilizing effect since it involves body movement that expends energy that is above the resting level. Some common physical activities include walking, gardening and domestic chores, all structured to ensure that the patient expends between 70% and 80% of his/her heart rate reserve and undergoes a lifestyle modification for healthy living (Carneiro et al., 2015; Ekkekakis, 2013).

The final non-pharmacological treatment option is complementary and alternative therapies that include acupuncture, animal-assisted therapy, homeopathy, massage therapy, and aromatherapy. Acupuncture is an anatomical procedure that involves stimulating the body using medical traditions that were originally practiced in the oriental countries of Korea, Japan, and China. Animal-assisted therapy involves using pets to act as companions to the depressive patient thereby ensuring that he or she is not lonely and can combat the depression symptoms. Homeopathy entails giving the patient highly diluted substances with medical capabilities that then trigger the body’s system to mount a natural healing response. Massage therapy involves manipulating the ligaments, tendons, and muscles causing them to relax and release body tension, reduce the perception of pain, aid blood circulation, and reduce anxiety. Aromatherapy involves tapping the healing properties of essential oils extracted from plants by exposing the patient to them through breathing and skin contact. As their name suggests, this option will only be used to complement other approaches (Sarris et al., 2012).


The project is intended to present effective treatment options for mild depression. This is based on the awareness that pharmaceutical approaches are accompanied by undesirable side effects that could have irritation and discomfort in minor case while hospitalization and death could ensue in the more serious cases. To address the concern presented by pharmacological approaches, the study intended to explore the use of non-pharmacological approaches that have comparable efficacy with less alarming side effects. In this respect, the scholarly activity intended to present a less alarming alternative treatment option for the treatment of mild depression.


Program competencies addressed

My individualized success plan contains two objectives that align with the scholarly activity. The first objective is to gain research competencies that allow me to synthesize evidence. I achieved this objective by conducting a secondary research activity that allowed me to identify a practice problem and present a solution based on evidence synthesized from other literature. The second objective was to create concrete action steps that delineate specific treatment approaches to improve medical practice. I achieved this objective by outlining the shortcomings of pharmacological treatment approaches for mild depression and presenting viable non-pharmacological approaches as alternatives. NRS-490-RS-Scholarly Activity Summary


Acton, A. (2013). Major depressive disorders: new insights for the healthcare professional. Atlanta, GA: Scholarly Editions.

Carneiro, L., Fonseca, A., Vieira-Coelho, M., Mota, M. & Vasconcelos-Raposo, J. (2015). Effects of structured exercise and pharmacotherapy vs. pharmacotherapy for adults with depressive symptoms: a randomized clinical trial. J Psychiatr Res., 71, 48-55.

Carr, A. (2012). Clinical psychology: an introduction. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ekkekakis, P. (2013). Routledge handbook of physical activity and mental health. New York, NY: Routledge.

Marchand, W. (2012). Depression and bipolar disorder: your guide to recovery. Boulder, CO: Bull Publishing Company.

Orgeta, V., Qazi, A., Spector, A. & Orrell, M. (2015). Psychological treatments for depression and anxiety in dementia and mild cognitive impairment: systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(4), 293-298.

Sarris, J., Moylan, S., Camfield, D., Pase, M., Mischoulon, D. … & Schweitzer, I. (2012). Complementary medicine, exercise, meditation, diet, and lifestyle modification for anxiety disorders: a review of current evidence. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012. Retrieved from

Smith, G. (2012). Psychological interventions in mental health nursing. Berkshire: Open University Press.

Williams, C., Wilson, P., Morrison, J., McMahon, A., Andrew, W. … & Tansey, L. (2013) Guided self-help cognitive behavioural therapy for depression in primary care: a randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE, 8(1), e52735. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052735

NRS-490-RS-Scholarly Activity Summary

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