As someone who has suffered from depression their entire life, I can understand how crippling it can be to do basic tasks when you’re going through it. There are those that need much more than natural antidepressants and routine changes, for those individuals, it is best to seek professional help. Depression is a chemical illness within the brain and it needs to be treated as such, the same way someone with a heart illness seeks medical care from a professional. If you suffer from a mild to moderate depression that comes and goes, these remedies may help you.
Depression can effect your every waking moment. Difficulty comes from the moment you awake each morning until the time you lay your head down to sleep at night (if you are even able to sleep). Finding the strength to take a shower and brushing your teeth can seem nearly impossible because your self worth is diminished. When you begin a positive train of thought, it can be immediately wiped out due to your depression. If you have not already set up an appointment with a therapist, that should be first on your list. Let’s face it, life is hard. Depression can make life seem impossible and not worth it. Life is worth it and you can get through this.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical condition that affects nearly 19 million Americans each year. A person’s mood, thoughts, physical health, and behavior all may be affected. Symptoms commonly include:
- Ongoing sad mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that the person once enjoyed
- Significant change in appetite or weight
- Oversleeping or difficulty sleeping
- Agitation or unusual slowness
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty “thinking,” such as concentrating or making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
1. Vitamin D
Sometimes, it could be simple things that will create great improvement on how you feel. Simple things such as making sure to get enough sunshine without sunscreen. Psychology Today has a great article on the benefits of Vitamin D and Depression:
(1) The healing properties of natural sunlight CANNOT penetrate glass. That’s right. You cannot sit inside your home or car and reap the benefits of sitting in a sunny spot. You must go outside.
(2) If you have dark skin, you’ll need about 25 times more exposure time as a light skinned individual to produce the same amount of vitamin D.
(3) Your body cannot absorb calcium without enough vitamin D. You can take all the calcium you want, but will receive no benefit unless vitamin D is present.
(4) A vitamin D deficiency is not reversed immediately. You’re looking at months of sunlight and/or supplements before levels return to normal.
(5) Your kidneys and liver activate vitamin D. Having kidney disease or a damaged liver will hinder the ability to activate vitamin D when needed.
(6) Now for the bad news. There has to be some bad news, right? Well, here it is. Sunscreens — from the strongest to the weakest — prohibit the body from making vitamin D by 95 percent. In light of this, there is a theory that more individuals are depressed these days because EVERYONE uses sunscreen and they’re not taking vitamin D supplements.
St. John’s Wort is considered a weed found in the United States. There are some studies that finds effectiveness when used for depression, but other studies shows it’s effectiveness is no greater than placebo when treating moderate to severe depression (as with many other antidepressants prescribed by doctors). It is worth testing it for yourself. As with any treatment, there are side effects that should be weighed before and during it’s use.
St. John’s wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders as well as nerve pain. In ancient times, doctors and herbalists (specialists in herbs) wrote about its use as a sedative and treatment for malaria as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites. Today, St. John’s wort is used by some people to treat mild to moderate depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders.
Read more here
According to an article on Dr. Oz,
Saffron is a well-known Persian spice used for its ability to help the digestive system heal. Because most neurotransmitters are made in the digestive tract, this might be the reason saffron has been shown in studies to elevate low mood. As the most expensive spice, it is high in carotenoids and B vitamins. In studies, saffron has been compared to both Prozac and Imipramine, and found to work at least as well, or better, with less side effects.
While the petal is the expensive part of the herb, you can also take capsules of the stigma part of the plant, which is less expensive, but still contains the powerful mood-enhancing ingredients. Studies use a dose of 15 mg twice a day. No toxicity has been shown when taking saffron in therapeutic amounts or in cooking.
According to an article on CNN.com,
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter involved in inhibition and stress relief. GABA is sold as a capsule, pill, or powder.
The evidence: Low GABA levels have been linked to depression and anxiety. Although supplement makers claim on their labels that GABA provides “Positive Mood Support” and “Supports a Calm Mood,” there is no evidence that GABA supplements have an effect on depressive symptoms; no studies have been conducted in humans to date.
A connection between naturally occurring GABA and depression and anxiety has been established. Although prescription medications such as Depakote (an anticonvulsant used to treat bipolar disorder) and benzodiazepines (used to treat anxiety) affect GABA levels, there is very little evidence that commercial GABA supplements impact mood in the same manner.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat needed for normal brain function.
Our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids so they must be obtained through diet.
Studies have linked depression with low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and have also found that countries with higher fish consumption, such as Japan, have a lower rate of depression. Preliminary studies suggest that omega-3’s (DHA and EPA) together with antidepressants may be more effective than antidepressants alone.
Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies are the richest food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil and cod liver oil are also available. Although fish may contain pollutants such as PCBs, many companies filter the oil so that these chemicals are removed.
Fish oil capsules may interact with blood-thinners such as warfarin and aspirin. Side effects may include indigestion and bleeding. Fish oil should not be taken two weeks before or after surgery. For more information, read Fish oil and Depression and also learn more about using Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
6. Folic Acid
Folate, is a B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables, fruit, beans, and fortified grains. It is one of the more prevalent vitamin deficiencies due to poor diet and also because of medication use (such as aspirin and oral contraceptives).
Preliminary research suggests that people with depression who also have low folate levels may not respond as well to antidepressents, and taking folic acid in supplement form may improve the effectiveness of antidepressants.
SAM-e, or S-adenosyl-L-methionine, is a compound found naturally in the human body that may increase levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Several studies have found SAM-e to be effective than placebo for depression.
In North America, SAM-e is available in supplement form in health food stores, drug stores, and online. Proponents typically recommend the enteric-coated form for maximum absorption
Alternative Medicine has some great suggestions on a healthy diet for depression:
- Reduce your intake of sweets
Sweets temporarily make you feel good as blood sugar rises, but may worsen mood later when they plummet.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol both dampen mood. Alcohol temporarily relaxes us and caffeine boosts energy, but the effects of both are short-lived. Both can worsen mood swings, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
- Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is needed to produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Although deficiency of vitamin B6 is rare, people taking oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and drugs for tuberculosis may be at greater risk for a deficiency.
Most people do not get enough magnesium in their diets. Good sources of magnesium include legumes, nuts, whole grains and green vegetables. Like vitamin B6, magnesium is needed for serotonin production.
If you are fortunate enough to live in a state where this plant is legal, you may find some relief for your depression, as long as it is not overused (as with any treatment). Huffington Post has a great article on the effectiveness of marijuana for depression:
Research has suggested that cannabis may be a promising treatment option for a number of different physical and mental health conditions, from post-traumatic stress disorder to chronic pain. A study released this week suggests that depression can be added to that list.
Neuroscientists from the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that endocannabinoids — chemical compounds in the brain that activate the same receptors as THC, an active compound in marijuana — may be helpful in treating depression that results from chronic stress.