If you are suffering from depression, as some 20 million Americans are, then joining the Prozac brigade may not necessarily be the best solution. For starters, antidepressants only work in about half the people who try them. Then, there are the many side effects such as weight gain, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nausea, and sexual dysfunction. On top of these, you have to get yourself to a doctor to prescribe the medication which may not be possible for everyone.
Instead, most people with depression are now turning to natural remedies because they can be effective, don’t cause serious side effects, are easily accessible, and can normally be used with other supplements without dangerous reactions. Natural remedies, therefore, offer a conveniently better alternative to antidepressants. And if you have already tried your hand at marketed medications which were not of much help, these may work where others did not.
If you suffer from severe depression or major depression symptoms, there is no question that you should seek help immediately and consult with your doctor before proceeding with any opinion we express here. But if your case is moderate or mild, you could consider natural treatments for depression. The worst that could go wrong is that the remedy doesn’t work after which you could always resort to prescription drugs. Below, therefore, we take a look at 5 natural remedies for depression as follows:
Research shows that a Mediterranean diet may not only be beneficial to your heart, but may also lower the risk of depression. Study participants who ascribed to this diet were on average found to have lowered their risk of developing depression by up to 30% in comparison to those who did not follow it. But what does the Mediterranean diet entail? Well, it emphasizes the consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids as opposed to saturated fatty acids (for instance, you may choose extra virgin olive oil rather than butter), legumes and nuts, lots of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, and B vitamins from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. And while dairy products, meat, and alcohol are not entirely forbidden, they are not the focus of this diet. Also, you have to keep away from sugars and refined carbohydrates.
While the link between alleviating the symptoms of depression and exercise is not quite clear, research has established that regular exercise of between 45 and 60 minutes each day and at least three times a week can reduce stress, lift your mood, and boost self-esteem, besides guarding against high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. When we engage in exercise, our body temperature goes up making us calmer in the process and causing our bodies to release norepinephrine and endorphin chemicals. It is these chemicals that are released during exercise that are thought to contribute in reducing depression. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter (a chemical in our brain makeup) that is responsible for improving our moods while endorphins boost our immune system, make us feel good, and reduce our perception of pain.
3. Guided imagery and meditation
A strong body-mind connection may help us feel happier and calmer. And practicing meditation for just 20 minutes each day can help in relieving the symptoms of depression. There is no wrong or right way to meditate – all you need is a comfortable position, a quiet place, relaxed breathing, and focusing your attention on something specific (such as an object, phrase or word, or breath). Mindfulness meditation has been proven to cut the chances of suicidal thoughts. Scientists reported that when we meditate, our brains tend to shift activity from the right frontal cortex which is stress-prone to the left frontal cortex which is much calmer. Overall, meditation does seem to change our brain structure, especially in the regions that control our emotions.
Guided imagery is also beneficial in coping with chronic pain, heart disease, cancer, immune dysfunction and other illnesses, and helpful for reducing stress. It has been founded on the idea that the mind and body are connected i.e. what the mind imagines, the body responds to as if it were real. Scripts or instructors can help and guide you (often through yoga or meditation techniques) to visualize and find your way to a more relaxed state.
Depression symptoms – from psychosis to mild apathy and even suicidal tendencies – may be as a result of magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is needed by the body to produce protein and energy as well as relaxing and contracting the muscles. It is also necessary for bone support and growth.
While deficiencies in magnesium tend to be rare, increasing magnesium-rich foods in your diet helps in boosting your moods. To this end, foods such as nuts and seeds, (sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are ideal, in addition to cashews and almonds), legumes and beans (soy beans, navy beans, and black beans), whole grains, and dark leafy greens (collard greens, Swiss chard, kale, spinach) are ideal if you wish to up your magnesium intake.
Some herbs can be even more effective than your usual standard medical practice. For example, St. John’s wort has been used for thousands of years to help treat anxiety and depression. Some herbs however may have reactions with medications so always consult with your doctor before trying any herbs either as a supplement or as a tea.
If you want to learn how to stop depression naturally, you must be willing to be patient and consistent because although the natural approach can be every effective, it can also take time. And remember, always seek guidance from a health care professional.