It’s a sobering thought: in any one year, around one million Australians are suffering from depression.

For those caught in its grip, it can make the world seem like a grey and hopeless place – but fortunately  depression usually responds well to treatment, whether that be counselling, medication, or treatments derived from natural plant extracts.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of illness and disability around the globe, so it is not surprising that there is ongoing research into potential treatments or cures. Here are some of the more unusual strategies that have come to light in recent years …

1.     Music and Singing

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that listening to upbeat music can lift your mood – whether it’s Pharrell’s “Happy”, or “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.

Science has now proven that singing also has a positive effect on your mental health and wellbeing. Thankfully, this is regardless of your vocal ability, so it doesn’t matter if you are tone deaf!

2.     A NeuroCybernetic Prosthesis (NCP)

For many years, this small pacemaker-like device (fitted to the Vagus nerve in the brain) has been used as a treatment for severe epilepsy.

There is now evidence to support the use of NCP in the treatment of depression as well. Although it’s not known exactly how it works, what we do know is that the Vagus nerve connects to the areas of the brain related to mood.

3.     Chocolate

Ahhh, chocolate. There is something almost addictive about that smooth, creamy taste – somehow it always makes us feel better. And it turns out, there are indeed components in cocoa (most likely cocoa polyphenols) which have mood-lifting properties.

4.     Botox

Botox may be valuable for more than just getting rid of facial lines and wrinkles. With certain facial muscles frozen following Botox injections, you will be unable to frowning or look grumpy. However it seems there is an unexpected side effect – if your face can’t express negative emotions like irritation, you are less likely to actually feel them in the first place!

Or maybe you just feel so good about looking younger and wrinkle-free after Botox treatment, that it’s a lot harder to feel depressed?

5.     The Cold Shower Cure

Experts have found that regular cold showers seem to give a certain part of the brain a mild but intense sensory shock, which kick starts the brain out of depressive thought patterns. Gives the term “shock treatment” a whole new meaning …

While I don’t think too many of us will be excited about the idea of brain surgery, or taking cold showers regularly, I think we can all be grateful that chocolate is on the list!