Depression is a legitimate disease and not something people make up for the sake of attention. By now, you must be habituated with this. But even then, hardly anyone knows how depression functions, especially those who don’t suffer from it. This makes things really difficult for those suffering from depression. This general lack of awareness prevents them from reaching out to anyone. Sometimes, even the doctors are really mean because they themselves have no idea about the different ways in which depression can attack us.
That being said, anti-depressants are not the only solution for depression. It is important to know that depression is of various kinds, so all of them can’t be treated by the same set of medications. Consider depression as any other illness you have come across. If other diseases are not one-dimensional and affect different people in different ways, tyhen how can you consider depression as something so simple that it can be treated by the same set of medicines? In this article, we will discuss 31 natural alternative treatments for depression. Read on to find out everything about them:
31 Natural Depression Treatments
Nature of depression
Sometimes depression is a symptom of something circumstantial in your life, rather than biochemical imbalances. Does your job require you to sell out your integrity every day? Have you been unable to admit that you need to end your marriage? Are you feeling spiritually disconnected or sexually restless? Are you suffering from creative blocks? Is your body failing you? Are you facing financial ruin?
Be honest with yourself about what might be off-kilter in your life, and make an effort to get to the root of why you might be feeling depressed.
Be physically active
Exercise releases happy-making endorphins, which act like natural anti-depressants. So try to be physically active for most part of the day.
Maintaining meal timings
Keeping your blood sugar stable reduces mood swings. Never skip a meal. Skipping meals could not only harm your body but also your mind.
Eat a diet rich in serotonin
Many anti-depressants like prozac act by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by receptors in the brain, thereby increasing serotonin levels. But you can increase your brain’s serotonin levels by eating foods that boost your serotonin levels naturally.
Serotonin-enhancing foods include foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies, which are even higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other fish), healthy fats like coconut oil, eat a high protein diet, especially proteins high in tryptophan, like free range turkey.
It reduces serotonin levels. If you need an energy boost, supplement with l-tyrosine (500 – 1000 mg).
Expose yourself to sunlight
It can boost mood and increase vitamin d levels. If you live somewhere that gets little sun, invest in a therapeutic light box.
Meditation’s effects on mood are well documented. Settling your mind can lift your mood, in addition to a whole host of other health benefits.
Check your hormonal balance
If your thyroid, adrenal or sex hormones are out of whack, your mood can get all wonky. See a good integrative medicine doctor and ask them to order and interpret the following tests: thyroid gland tests – tsh, free t4, free t3, total t3, thyroid antibodies, adrenal gland tests – cortisol, dhea-s, pregnenolone, sex hormone tests – estradiol, progesterone, free and total testosterone.
Try to be more like yourself
Too often, we walk around wearing masks, pretending to be something we’re not. We fake it at the schoolyard, in the boardroom, in the bedroom, at church and then we wonder why we wind up depressed. Stop pleasing everybody and try to more of who you really are.
Go for therapy
See a therapist, psychiatrist, or life coach and express how you feel. Sometimes just finding someone you trust who will help you work through your feelings can make all the difference in the world.
One study found that curcumin, the primary active ingredient of the spice turmeric, is a safe and effective alternative in patients who do no display suicidal ideation or have a concurrent psychotic disorder.
Extracts made from saffron (c. Sativus) have also been shown to be effective natural antidepressants. A small study that compared the effects of saffron to the effects of fluoxetine (prozac) and found that both produced the same improvements.
It can be effective in treating very mild cases of depression. However, always consult a doctor before trying it.
When taken as a supplement, sam-e (pronounced “sammy”) affects the manufacture of brain chemicals responsible for mood regulation. Research shows that sam-e is as effective in relieving symptoms of depression as tricyclic antidepressants.
Eliminate triggers of inflammation
Certain foods and substances create inflammation in our bodies, including in our brains, which leads to depression. The usual suspects are sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. A spike in cytokines, proteins that are pumped into our bloodstream when our immune system is fighting off a foreign agent, happens when people are depressed. The process looks the same as when a person is fighting an infection of any kind.
Dark, leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard, and kale fuel every system in your body more completely than any other kind of food. They are nutrition powerhouses, packed with vitamins a, c, e, k, and folate; minerals like iron and calcium; carotenoids; fiber; antioxidants; omega-3s; and phytochemicals. They are also a major source of chlorophyll, which heals and cleanses all our organs, and even destroys many of our internal enemies, like pathogenic bacteria, fungi, cancer cells, and many others.
Heal your gut
Embedded into the walls of our intestines is an intricate enteric nervous system, consisting of some 100 million neurons, that is often referred to as our second brain. In fact, the nerve cells in our gut manufacture 80 to 90 percent of our body’s serotonin. There’s also a complex collection of bacteria living in our guts that a substantial volume of research says impacts our mood it’s important to consume probiotic foods, like garlic, onions, artichokes, leeks, and dandelion greens, and probiotic foods, like active-culture yogurt, kefir, pickles, and fermented foods. It’s also good to avoid the use of antibiotics as much as possible.
Any kind of workout or movement lifts your mood, boosting our brain’s dopamine levels and providing endorphins, but some kinds of exercises are much more healing than others, especially for people who have been depressed for decades or have stress-related conditions like adrenal fatigue. Unlike other aerobic workouts, like running or crossfit, that raise cortisol levels and essentially wear out your body, yoga lowers levels of this stress hormone that is critical to the maintenance of homeostasis and regulating immune responses, blood sugar, and central nervous system functions.
Depression is ultimately a stress disorder: a disease where stress is poorly managed by our bodies. By eliciting the relaxation response, we can immediately alter our gene expression tied to inflammation, metabolism, and insulin production — all of which impact our mood. We engage the parasympathetic nervous system by practices like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, massage, and prayer. Even a few long, deep breaths when you start to feel panicky can message the intern not to sound the fire alarm.
Take the right supplements
It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which supplements may be helpful, and how to distinguish between quality brands. : an omega-3 supplement, a probiotic, vitamin d, vitamin b-12, and a multivitamin are considered as standard supplements.
Protect your sleep
Chronic stress and disrupted sleep cycles are the two biggest factors that prevent a person from climbing out of the depths of depression. Unfortunately, where there is depression, there are usually sleep issues.
Find a purpose
Meaning and purpose can serve as a kind of anesthesia to pain; focusing on your small role to make the world a better place positions your suffering into a larger perspective that leads to peace.
There may be a link between low levels of folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) and depression. Taking 500 micrograms of folic acid has been linked with improving the effectiveness of other antidepressant medications. One way to increase your folate levels is to consume folate-rich foods daily. These include beans, lentils, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, and avocados.
Zinc is a nutrient linked with mental functions such as learning and behavior. Low levels of blood zinc are associated with depression. Taking a 25-milligram zinc supplement daily for 12 weeks can help reduce depression symptoms. Taking zinc supplements can also increase the amount of available omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
Do something new
When you’re depressed, you’re in a rut. Push yourself to do something different. Go to a museum. Pick up a used book and read it on a park bench. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take a language class. When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in the brain. Trying something new alters the levels of [the brain chemical] dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment, and learning.
Try to have fun
If you’re depressed, make time for things you enjoy. What if nothing seems fun anymore? That’s just a symptom of depression. You have to keep trying anyway.
Take on responsibilities
When you’re depressed, you may want to pull back from life and give up your responsibilities at home and at work. Don’t. Staying involved and having daily responsibilities can help you maintain a lifestyle that can help counter depression. They ground you and give you a sense of accomplishment. If you’re not up to full-time school or work, that’s fine. Think about part-time. If that seems like too much, consider volunteer work.
Challenge negative thoughts
In your fight against depression, a lot of the work is mental — changing how you think. When you’re depressed, you leap to the worst possible conclusions. The next time you’re feeling terrible about yourself, use logic as a natural depression treatment. You might feel like no one likes you, but is there real evidence for that? You might feel like the most worthless person on the planet, but is that really likely? It takes practice, but in time you can beat back those negative thoughts before they get out of control.
5-htp, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, is produced naturally in the body and is used in the formation of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Although taking 5-htp in supplement form may theoretically boost the body’s serotonin levels, many experts feel there is not enough evidence to determine the safety of 5-htp. It should not be combined with antidepressants.
Lavender oil has been used as an inhalant—in sachets, sprays, oils, and lotions—for centuries. The smell induces calm and sleep. Lavender oil is now available in an oral form, collected into microscopic bubbles and placed in a capsule that allows it to cross the intestinal barrier. Once it does, it induces calm and reduces anxiety. It is marketed as lavela. It’s not addictive or dangerous.
Lavender is an anxiety treatment that doesn’t make you tired. It can be used as needed—when anxiety arises, or regularly, depending on your needs.
Valerian works as a mild antidepressant and anxiolytic and has demonstrated through testing not to have a sedative effect. The extract phytofin Valerian 368 has been shown to have sleep-enhancing qualities. Valerian root is the most effective herb for sleep, according to research. It is also a great anti-anxiety herb, but, unlike lavender or L-theanine, it will definitely make you tired!
It’s a good option for more severe anxiety spells and for evening use, when you won’t be driving or working. Valerian can be taken during the day in very small doses, 20 milligrams or less. In fact, it is widely available in “sleep teas” at a dose of about 20 milligrams. For sleep, or more severe anxiety in the evening, you can use doses as high as 600 milligrams. It is important not to combine valerian with alcohol or other depressant medications.
If all else fails and you need anti-depressants, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes you can do everything right, and if your imbalance is biochemical, you may need the drugs. But don’t forget to nurture the rest of you too. Depression, like most physical and mental illnesses, is multifactorial and requires a global investigation of your whole health — not just your mind and body, but your relationships, your work, your financial picture, how you express yourself creatively, how you satisfy yourself sexually, your environment, and whether you’re letting your inner light shine.