twitter logo youtube logo

Non-pharmaceutical management of depression


Depression affects men and women of all ages and social backgrounds and is associated with sickness absence that prevents many people seeking, maintaining or returning to employment. Prescribed antidepressant medication is the most common treatment.

Remit and target users

This guideline provides an assessment of, and presents the evidence base for, the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical therapies, encompassing psychological therapies, structured exercise and lifestyle interventions, and a range of alternative and complementary treatments, many of which are not routinely available within the NHS.

This guideline will be of particular interest to those developing mental health services, health care professionals in primary and secondary care (eg GPs, community psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists) and patients with depression and their carers. It may also be helpful to voluntary organisations and exercise professionals working in exercise referral schemes, public or private fitness centres, and physical activity promotion.

How this guideline was developed

This guideline was developed using a standard methodology based on a systematic review of the evidence. Further details can be found in SIGN 50: A Guideline Developer’s Handbook .

Keeping up to date

This guideline was issued in 2010 and will be considered for review in three years. The review history, and any updates to the guideline in the interim period, will be noted in the review report.

If you are aware of any new evidence that would update this guideline please complete a change request form and return to:

Current 3-7 years

Some recommendations may be out of  date, declaration of interests governance may not be in line with current policy.


Full guideline (PDF)

Quick reference guide (PDF)

Audit tools

Apple app

Android app

Patient publications

Supporting material

Register of Interests

Search narrative (PDF)

Copyright permission (PDF)

Contact us

SIGN 114, January 2010
ISBN 978 1 905813 55 1

guidelines international network logo


HIS Healthcare Improvement Scotland logo