Natural Treatments for Depression
There are many natural remedies for depression that can help restore balance into your life without the undesirable side effects of medication.
One of the most effective ways to treat depression is by changing the types of food that you consume on a daily basis. Sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, and coffee can all contribute to causing inflammation in the body, resulting in low levels of toxemia, which in turn can negatively effect your thoughts and mood. Replace these foods with highly nutritious and alkalizing foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and other lean sources of proteins such as tempeh or chicken. Make sure to drink plenty of purified water throughout your day, which will ensure that you are adequately hydrated and feeling good.
In addition to your daily diet, probiotics are hugely important for maintaining a healthy mood. There is overwhelming evidence now, suggesting that the link between the gut and the brain is significant for numerous reasons. It is estimated that nearly 80% of your body’s total seratonin is actually created in your gut. In addition, nearly 70% of your body’s immune response originates in the GALT tissue of the gut. And when gut health is compromised, not only is your immunity compromised, but so too does it limit the endorphin levels in your brain. One of the best ways to get probiotics is through natural sources such as fermented foods (sauerkraut, kim chee, kefir, kombucha). Store bought probiotics are also good. Search for a refrigerated brand with an organism count upwards of 40 billion per capsule.
Another effective way of improving mood is through exercise. Exercise can reduce stress, improve health, and release endorphins in the brain. Studies have shown that people who engage in a daily exercise tend to experience less anxiety, greater emotional stability, and greater mental focus. Forms of exercise which are most effective at improving mood are cardiovascular workouts like jogging, swimming, jumping rope, or dancing.
4. St. John’s Wort
Over 20 clinical trials have confirmed that this folk remedy for depression is effective for improving mood, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep. St. John’s Wort works best for mild to moderate depression, but has shown less favorable results in treating major depression. This herbal remedy has also shown to have less side effects than prescription medication, but does have some known drug interactions, so consult with your doctor before consuming St. John’s Wort if you are currently taking prescription medication. It generally takes about four to six weeks for St John’s Wort to reach its maximum effectiveness, and some known side effects are dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and indigestion.
This herb is known in China as the “Chinese Prozac,” due to its effectiveness in treating mild to moderate depression. This natural remedy has shown effective in reducing anxiety, increasing mood, supporting the adrenal glands, and aiding the liver in detoxification. The standard dosage of schisandra is 500mg-2000mg a day, depending on the severity of your depression. Like many natural herbal treatments for depression, it may take a few weeks before you begin to notice any positive effects. Be patient, making sure not to increase the amount of schisandra beyond the recommended dosage.
6. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These essential fatty acids are important for healthy brain and nervous system functioning, and studies have shown a connection between Omega 3 deficiency and depression. The body does not naturally produce these fatty acids, so it can be beneficial to increase your consumption of food containing omega 3s, such as fish, flax seeds, walnuts, edamame beans, kidney beans, and black beans. Because of concerns over high mercury levels in seafood, you can also increase your omega 3s through fish oil capsules, which have been filtered for purity. Make sure to buy fish oil supplements that have been molecularly distilled, versus pharmaceutical grade.
Treating depression with medication may seem like a quick fix, but it is likely only a temporary solution. Long term use of anti-depressants have not sufficiently been studied, and depression has been known to return in patients once they discontinue taking medication. Take the time to integrate these positive lifestyle and dietary changes into your life, in addition to natural supplements.
It is estimated that in the U.S. one in 10 adults experience a depressive disorder, equalling approximately 18.8 million Americans. Depression effects roughly twice as may women as men, with an estimated 12.4 million women suffering from this mood disorder.