It’s sad to say that thousands of people suffer from depression every day, and of those, many will be treated with traditional anti-depressant medication. However, some of these anti-depressants can also have side effects that can often be worse than the depression itself.
This has led some people to consider natural alternatives to relieve their depression and anxiety. Here are some of those natural alternatives, and the part they play in relieving depression and anxiety.
What is Depression?
Many people can suffer from low mood at one time or another, however, very often these moods will last less than a day or a few days at most. For those that have depression, these low moods and other feelings can last for months and sometimes even years. Typically, feelings of anxiety, emptiness, hopelessness, and pessimism that last for longer than a couple of weeks can be a sign of depression.
The reasons for depression can vary greatly depending on the person. For some, it can be too much stress or anxiety at work or in their personal life, and therefore the treatment can sometimes differ. It is also important to treat the underlying cause of depression.
For example, for those that may have a drug addiction, seeking help such as outpatient substance abuse can alleviate the cause and lead to better treatment of depression.
It is important to understand that you need to get a professional diagnosis of your depression before you take any medication, traditional, or natural alternatives.
St. John’s Wort
Saint John’s wort is a plant that’s native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. There are many countries that use this herb to treat depression, and it is one of the better-known varieties. Taking Saint John’s wort has been linked to an increase in the amount of Serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a feel-good chemical in the brain that people who suffer from depression are often lacking.
While it is thought that this herb can treat mild forms of depression, its effects have never been conclusively proven either way. However, a review of 29 studies found the plant could be just as effective of treating mild depression as anti-depressants. Yet, there were far fewer side effects from taking Saint John’s wort then traditional medication.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These types of fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon and trout. It is also found in capsule form and is often labeled as fish oil capsules. Studies have suggested that those people you have brain chemicals lacking in these two acids can be more likely to suffer depression.
As well as taking the supplement, you can also increase the amount of fish you eat per week. You have to keep in mind, however, that some fish such as Swordfish, King mackerel, and Shark, can contain high levels of Mercury. There can also be low levels of Mercury in canned tuna, salmon, and sardines.
Saffron is a spice derived from part of the crocus flower. Studies have found that taking the saffron stigma has been shown as an effective treatment in those suffering from mild to moderate depression. Saffron has been widely used in cooking especially in India, and that means it can easily be added to food on a regular basis. It is also possible now to get capsules containing saffron which can help you if you don’t want to add it to your food.
Many women will know the name folate, as it’s recommended to be taken when you’re pregnant. It is also added too many foods in some countries as a way to boost the immune system. However, it is thought that there could be a link between low levels of folic acid and depression.
Taking up to 500 micrograms of folic acid could improve the effectiveness of other anti-depressant medications as well. If you want to increase your folate intake through your food, you can do this by eating more beans, lentils, and dark leafy greens. It is, of course, vital that you consult your doctor before taking anything together with your anti-depressant medication.
Linked with mental functions such as learning and behavior, zinc has been found in below average levels in those suffering from depression. According to a recent study, taking 25 milligrams of zinc for 12 weeks can help to reduce depression symptoms. It can also help to increase the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids available in the body. Zinc is found in many foods which can help to improve your mood should you want to avoid taking supplements.
Curcumin is a natural Component of turmeric and is commonly found in many forms of Indian cuisine. Not only is it effective at reducing depression on its own, but it’s also been found to help increase the effectiveness of traditional anti-depressants. Curcumin works by increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine which are responsible for happiness and motivation.
Studies have shown an impressive link between drinking green tea and a reduction in anxiety and depression. The component of green tea called EGCG or (epigallocatechin gallate) is thought to increase your resilience to stress. It is been found that drinking green tea daily can reduce your risk of depression by up to 44%. It works by altering your brain patterns, putting you in a relaxed but attentive state similar to that of meditation.
Of all the things that have been discussed here, exercise is also high on the list of things that can reduce your level of stress and anxiety. Taking exercise can also help lift low mood and ease depression. Exercise itself doesn’t have to be strenuous, even a short walk around your local neighborhood can be enough to give you the beneficial effects. Exercise works by giving you a natural high such as that would you get when you are happy.
If you are suffering from depression and want to try a more natural way to heal yourself, then these remedies can have a beneficial effect. You can try them on their own or as a supplement to existing medication if agreed by your doctor.