Top Natural Depression Treatments
Depression is one of the most common types of mental disorders, as it affects about 340 million people around the world. Not all sufferers favor medication, and some seek natural treatments. Let’s speak about all possible ways of overcoming depression without drugs.
Over 18 million US citizens suffer from depression. Each tenth man and each fourth female aged 40-50 y.o. takes antidepressants. Some experts explain this fact by the fast-moving periods and life style changing within this age range. Whatever the reason is, the depression statistics are staggering.
Unfortunately antidepressant drugs are helpless sometimes. They only really work for 30% of users.
Unbearable adverse reactions, suicidal thoughts, and high risk of usage during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence are the important factors that discourage using antidepressants. 80% of people with depression never receive relief. So what are other options for depression treatment? Let’s speak about this today.
How to Cure Depression with Herbal Remedies?
Our ancestors had stress, too. For centuries, herbal remedies have been used for general well-being and depression therapy, as well. When antidepressants are not always beneficial and cause various side effects, herbal remedies become helpful solutions.
Since this psychological disorder may be caused by different causes, natural remedies can not replace the qualified medical scheme of cure, but, at the same time, we should not underestimate their effectiveness.
There are 10 natural remedies that may help to lift mood during mild or moderate forms of depression:
- Arctic Root. The plant that grows in Chinese mountains and the Arctic is used for boosting physical and mental health. It’s adaptogenic action is similar to serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The remedy reduces stress, anxiety, and fatigue quicker than some drugs. It brings fast results for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) treatment.
- Ashwagandha. The most remarkable plant used in Indian Ayurvedic healing, this adaptogen significantly cuts down cortisol level (the stress hormone) and struggles against anxiety and sleep disorders.
- Chamomile. The daisy-like plant provides overall relaxation and is used for multiple purposes. It is represented in various forms (tea, capsules, tincture, oils, etc) and is used not only for depression and anxiety treatment, but for stomach problems, too.
- Curcumin. The compound of this Indian spice is known for its anti-inflammatory and brain-activating qualities. It enhances the levels of neurotransmitters which respond for the good feeling. The action is similar to Prozac. The spice is effective for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depressive states.
- Ginkgo biloba. One of the most popular ancient Chinese remedies that improves memory function, enhances blood circulation in the brain, and diminishes cortisol levels.
- Saffron. The expensive culinary spice activates serotonin metabolism and struggles with stress, OCD, and premenstrual symptom (PMS).
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Cold-water fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and flax oil include the fats that are useful for treating depression and bipolar disorder. The recommended doses work beneficially for the heart.
- Lavender. The oil is widely used in aromatherapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Clinical trials showed high efficiency as compared to several antidepressants with no side effects, drug interactions, or contraindications.
- Melissa. Essential oil is multifunctional and treats a number of health problems: sleep disorders, anxiety, headaches, high blood pressure, diabetes, and dementia.
- Valerian. Classified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a «GRAS» (Generally recognized as safe) substance, this herb is widely used for the treatment of neurologic disorders and insomnia.
Therefore, herbs are increasingly gaining prominence in official pharmacology. Being natural antidepressants, they may be considered as a secondary way of treating depression.
Get Outside More
As well as taking medical treatments for depression, suffers should not close themselves inside and miss a chance to enjoy the sunlight. Vitamin D is synthesized in our skin and is vital for the body. Studies show that it improves brain disorders, such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Severe deficiency of this vitamin raises the risk of dementia by 125% and predisposes people to depression. Scientists believe that optimal doses of the vitamin enhance the brain’s chemical processes and protect brain cells, recover damaged neurons, and promote anti-inflammatory and immunity-modulating effects.
In sunny weather, forest therapy is highly suggested, too, and it is recommended for restoring the generally good feeling. There are at least 11 scientifically proven motivations why outside walks are useful.
Being out in nature:
- boosts working memory better than urban environments;
- restores energy and recovers mental fatigue;
- decreases heart rates and cortisol levels;
- reduces inflammation processes;
- makes a protective effect on the eyesight;
- improves concentration;
- stimulates thinking processes and imagination;
- promotes the production of anti-cancer proteins;
- boosts immunity system;
- eases anxiety, depression and other mental disorders;
- alleviates the suicide risks.
Highly sensitive people should pay special attention in the social circle. It is important to recognize when people are stealing inner strength and energy, constantly complaining, or criticizing you. Best of all is to communicate with positive and supporting friends. Good evenings with optimistic individuals sometimes works better than a clinician or tablets. Detect negative personalities and exclude them from your social network or diminish your communication with them as much as possible. Pleasant memories also make good impacts on psychological health and mental stability.
It is obvious that exercising is the last thing a depressed person wishes to do. If a person wants to get rid of this annoying feeling and get enough motivation, the activity starts to make sense.
Sports help to prevent and support general health. It normalizes blood pressure, reduces anxiety, and improves mood. The direct link between exercise and mental disorders is not clearly understood, but it definitely eases the symptoms. Systematic training:
- releases the natural brain chemicals that respond for good mood and inner harmony;
- distracts from obsessive thoughts;
- improves self-confidence, self-esteem;
- gives a chance to meet and communicate with people who have strong pro-life stance;
- motivates for healthy living style.
Physical activities and exercises are not the same thing, but they are both good for health. Exercise includes various activities that are not necessarily hard. The important thing is that they help you to feel better. Among them are:
Any kind of active rest that pumps the heart is helpful. Even just washing the car, walking down the street, gardening, or anything that makes a person get up from the couch helps to improve mood and rise above negative thinking.
If physical activities are new or not easy to come by, start by doing them gradually. In the beginning, it would be good to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and park the car a little farther away from work to walk the rest of the distance. Biking to work is also a good solution. All of this will help to clear the mind, fulfill the body with new energy, and focus on the positive things.
Adhere to Diet
Those who seek a natural treatment for depression should pay attention to their daily rations. There is no specific diet to cure this mental disorder; however, eating a more healthful diet has a positive effect on the psychological condition. Scientists highly suggest avoiding sweets, as well as refined and fried foods, and instead filling the menu with products that beat depression. These are:
- Green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, lettuces, and leaf beet. This class of plants creates a powerful immunostimulatory action, protects from cancer, and can fight against inflammatory disorders in the organism. Since the severe depressive states are related to inflammation processes in the brain, the vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as minerals and phytochemicals are essential for recovering.
- Walnuts. The source of omega-3 fatty acids maintain brain functioning.
- Avocados. Rich in healthy fats, protein, and vitamins K, B, C, and E-12, fruits help the brain to work properly.
- Berries (raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, etc.) are effective antioxidants. Long-term usage lessens depression, fixes cells, and prevents cancer.
- Onions and garlic. The anti-inflammatory flavonoids contained in these vegetables benefit mood and reduce the risk of cancer.
- Tomatoes. Scientific researchers noticed the lack of folate in depressed people. Tomatoes contain folic acid and alpha-lipoic acid and regulate the levels of homocysteine that restrict the producing of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
- Flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are very useful for mood normalization.
- Apples. «An apple a day keeps the doctor away». It is a well-balanced fruit that includes vitamin B, fiber, iron, and magnesium. Apples promote brain functioning and help the cardiovascular system. Their antioxidant properties prevent inflammation and repair oxidation damage.
Changing the diet is a promising step in the cure of depression. It relieves depression symptoms but should be considered as one of several options for the cure.
Food with Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical that serves as a natural relaxer. Since ancient times, it has been used for calming the nervous system and releasing tension. It is highly recommended for anxiety and depression treatment.
The Norwegian Hordaland Health Study found that people who have less magnesium in their daily rations are more at risk of depression. This chemical has caught the attention of Austrian, Russian, and American scientists. All testimonials showed great effectiveness of magnesium in the treatment of psychological disorders, such as aggression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
It is available in supplement form but the types of magnesium may differ, therefore some of them are beneficial and some are not. The magnesium in the food is the chemical that is used by organism naturally. Along with products that contain magnesium, our organism receives vitamin B6, folate calcium, and other beneficial nutrients that also take part in depression and anxiety treatment. With the product rich in magnesium, we receive a super pack of natural vitamins for depression and anxiety with no risk of overdose or waste money on unsuitable supplements.
The products that contain magnesium are:
- cereals (rice, barley);
- wheat and oat bran;
- buckwheat flour;
- pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, flax seeds;
- nuts (almond, cashews, Brazil, black walnuts, peanuts, pistachios);
- dark chocolate;
- mustard, collard, beet and turnip greens;
- herbs and spices (dill, celery, sage, basil, fennel, tarragon, coriander, marjoram, cumin).
It is necessary to pay attention to mineral water. It has many helpful ingredients that usual water does not contain. Two liters of mineral water a day prevents dehydration and supplies an organism with 25% of the daily magnesium norm. The label on the bottle represents the chemical composition, and usually it is about 20-110 mg of magnesium per liter. Magnesium is absorbed better when water is taken along with meals than in the periods between them.
Forget About Coffee
Medical opinions regarding coffee are divided. Some specialists are sure that caffeine relieves depression symptoms while others warn that it worsens the psychological condition.
There is no direct link between caffeine usage and depression. The Chinese studying done from 1980-2015 note that caffeine generally decreases the risk of depression, providing protection action. Depression risks may be increased only in case of exceeding the daily norm of caffeine. Caffeine contains chlorogenic, ferric, and caffeic acids, all of which reduce nerve cell inflammation that leads to depression. The caffeine antioxidant properties help to soothe the damaged areas of the brain.
Opponents warn that those who are sensitive to caffeine’s effect or intake too many caffeinated beverages may sustain unwanted reactions. Caffeine messes with the body’s clock and mood, and falling asleep becomes more problematic which subsequently diminishes the sleep time and worsens depression symptoms, especially when depression and anxiety occur together. If a depressed person is a keen coffee drinker, abrupt quitting may cause withdrawal side effects, such as migraine, fatigue, irritancy, and dejected mood. Thus, limiting or avoiding caffeine should be done by gradually reducing its intake.
Heavy caffeine intake does not have supporters and is not recommended. It leads to such symptoms as:
- fast heart rate;
Excessive caffeine intake is strictly forbidden for people who are inclined to have panic attacks. Providing a short time boost to the nervous system, it can cause major mood drops.
Try to Drink Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is useful in many health problems. The research has shown the significant positive impact of green tea in the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. As a non-specific way of treatment, four cups of green tea help in mild and moderate depressive states.
To make the taste less bitter, do not steep the leaves too long and poor in less hot water. Infuse the leaves for one minute and get a mildly bitter flavor with incredible health benefits.
Folate, one of the B vitamins, is an effective mood enhancer, polyphenols provide anti depressive actions, and theanine increases dopamine and serotonin levels. Being a natural stimulant, green tea increases energy levels and improves the sex stamina in men and can help combat fatigue. Its antioxidant content maintains the work of the cardiovascular system and raises decreased blood pressure.
Among numerous advantages, herbal tea might cause side effects:
- Sleeplessness, poor sleep. Green tea contains caffeine that may alert the sleeping regime and lead to exhaustion, nervousness, disturbances, or worsening of the anxiety symptoms.
- Allergy. The high concentration of herbs may cause various reactions in hypersensitive people.
- Fast heartbeat. A common reaction from excessive caffeine which occurs after immoderate green tea consumption.
- Hypertension. This symptom is also a result of high caffeine levels.
- Enhanced effect of medicine. Green tea may interwork with anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin, increasing its effect and raising the risk of bleeding. Green tea extracts also increase the effectiveness of antibiotics as a result of the antioxidant effect.
- Drugs interaction. Green tea interworks with antidepressants and sedative preparations. Caffeine conflicts with the drug’s action and causes alertness.
Green tea is not recommended for ulcer and gastritis sufferers because it may irritate the stomach mucosa. Those who use antidepressants and sedative medications should finish the medical treatment course first and avoid drinking green tea during it.
Eat Pumpkin Seeds
How to treat depression by eating pumpkin seeds? Easily!
As was mentioned above, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium which is vital for proper work of the cardiovascular system. It supports blood circulation to the heart and relaxes the bloodways. Blood pressure control is a good prophylaxis against heart diseases. Pumpkin seeds include phytosterols that regulate cholesterol levels and reduce cardiovascular problems.
A high concentration of tryptophan in seeds supports serotonin production which is converted into melatonin (the sleep hormone) later. So for happy sleeping at night, just eat a handful of pumpkin seeds along with some fruit.
The tryptophan and phenylalanine contained in the seeds are amino acids that are critical for the production of serotonin and norepinephrine which respond with calmness and a positive mood. Pumpkin seeds are especially recommended for vegans for consumption of the amino acids in the organism that are usually gained through animal meat.
Depression is often caused by a deficiency of vitamin B6. It converts the amino acids into neurotransmitters and is important in order to maintain a good mood. This vitamin is available in supplement form but should be cautiously used due to risk of overdosing. You can safely get this vitamin from pumpkin seeds without fear of overdoing it.
Seeds also have healthy fats that are useful for physical and psychological processes in the organism.
Pumpkin seeds also contain a lot of zinc that is important for immunity functioning and protecting organism from viral infections. Vitamin E and selenium present in the seeds strengthen the organism’s resistance. Seeds are especially healthy for males due to prophylactics of prostate gland problems and is highly suggested for stopping benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
It is not a secret that stressful factors chase us daily. Depression and anxiety may be considered as challenges instead of illnesses. Meditation is a healthy lifestyle habit that helps to recover from these psychological disorders and prevent them in the future.
This is a scientifically proven method of struggle against mental disorders. The Psychiatry Research confirms the effectiveness of meditation for generalized anxiety disorder. Those who use mindfulness techniques showed higher level of stress management. The practice is not really aimed at treating psychological disorders, but it can be a great part of the specified therapy.
During depression, people often suffer from feelings of worthlessness. Meditation becomes an effective tool to observe negative thoughts though abstracting from the external world. But the practices are not alternatives to classic treatment. Possibly, it could recover depression completely but, as the skilled practicers mention, that requires a pretty long period time: about two years of daily work.
There are views that meditation may cause psychotic disorders, which means that people may lose touch with the real world and experience delusions, hallucinations, and disturbing thinking. Meditators have positive and negative experiences. The main problem mostly consists in the lack of meditation skills. Those who are new to this often overdose and, as a result, may make themselves ill. There are practices which may last up to 10 hours a day but this should be done after a rich experience or under the control of a skilled professional.
The key factors of meditation are rethinking and reanalyzing the things that make a person feel helpless to change, as well as recognizing that an individual has enough power to change them and feel happy.
Acupuncture is rooted in Western medicine and used for therapy of sickness, asthma, and neurological disorders. Its mechanism is still unclear. The clue of the process is related to the increased level of endorphins and enkephalins (neuro biologically active substances). Possibly, it includes the release of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.
The studying of acupuncture depression treatments are limited, although a few scientific reports compare this type of cure with traditional therapy and prove that it can treat depression, anxiety, and stress completely. However, clear biological explanations do not exist.
The acupuncture is as follows: the specialist (acupuncturist) inserts fine needles into certain acupuncture points that are thought to be energy sources in Chinese medicine which respond for the work of exact organs. Once the needles are in, the patient lies quietly on the table and listens to lovely music. Aromatherapy is often incorporated into the process.
The function of acupuncture consists in releasing the roadblocks on the energy way. Each point leads to an exact organ. For instance, according to Chinese medicine, anger is caused by a blockage in the liver. Therefore, acupuncture is aimed to correct the balance through activation of natural painkillers.
Most conditions require eight or more sessions for recovery. Acupuncture is not always a cure-all for severe depression without parallel medical therapy, but it may significantly improve the condition.
Acupuncture cures depression in pregnant women. Clinical trials inform us that at postpartum, the women had reductions in depression symptoms. For most patients, the procedure is pleasant and relaxing.
Homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective method to cure depressive states, sadness, and anxiety. Under surveillance of a professional homeopath, this type of therapy becomes a possible alternative to other treatments. The most popular homeopathic remedies are:
- Aurum metallicum. It is suggested for deep depression, melancholy states, periods with financial troubles, love failure periods, and suicidal thoughts.
- Natrum muriaticum. This is an effective remedy that helps to get over depression caused by the loss of a loved one, an unhappy relationship, or heavy stress.
- Calcarea carbonica. This is an efficient medication for overbearing depression, exhaustion, and doubtful conditions that may control constant crying.
- Stannum metallicum. According to Chinese medicine, the lungs are connected to grief emotions. This remedy heals the lungs and helps to treat certain types of depression. It is effective for people with low spirits, those who are disconnected with life and hypersensitive to social opinion.
- Mercurius solubilis hahnemanni. The remedy by means of which that is possible are to manage irritancy, society withdrawal, deep sadness, and excessive nervousness.
- Ignatia Amara. This is an effective method of treatment for recent depressive states accompanied by extreme affliction, blubbering, desolation, and society escaping.
It is worth it to note the Bach flower which does not technically belong to homeopathic remedies but, due to its soft action, is a very helpful depression treatment. Bach’s Clematis is especially facilitative for stabilizing an overwhelmed feeling and calming down worrying emotions.
One of possible causes for depression is the deficiency of vitamins. Along with medication treatment, vitamins play an important role. The essential nutrients that come from food provide more benefits than supplements. Supplements become a way out when a certain nutrient is missing in the organism.
Here are the groups of vitamins that may help to correct depressive conditions:
- Vitamin B. Essential to mental health and the well-being feeling. It includes:
- vitamin B1 (thiamine);
- vitamin B3 (niacin);
- vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid);
- vitamin B6 (pyridoxine);
- vitamin B9 (folate);
- vitamin B12 (cobalamin);
- folic acid.
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). A helpful supplement, especially when depression is accompanied by surgery or inflammatory illnesses. Stress in the perimenopausal, postmenopausal, and postnatal phases can be treated by vitamin C, as well.
- Minerals. The lack of minerals often causes physical and mental health problems. The minerals include:
- Vitamin D (sunshine vitamin).
All these vitamins take part in the formation of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are the neurotransmitters that respond for happiness. Some vitamins work on their own while others enhance the action of prescription drugs or natural remedies for depression. Therefore, it is necessary to receive a medical consultation before beginning a supplement course.
Be aware that some companies produce low grade supplements that are usually very cheap. Purchase pure pharmaceuticals only from a verified and authoritative seller.
Use Supplements with St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is the best known antidepressant.
It is widely used for the treatment of many psychological problems such as:
- atypical depression;
- mood disorders;
- severe depression;
- symptoms of the menopause.
The remedy should not be used for manic depression (bipolar disorder).
The standard adult dose for depression is 300 mg three times a day. After the initial treatment it may be decreased or increased up to 600 mg.
Usually the medication does not cause side effects. Among rare adverse reactions are the following:
- light sensitivity;
- stomach problems;
- low libido;
The remedy is not recommended for expectant and nursing mothers. St. John’s wort interacts with other drugs, therefore a preliminary medical consultation is highly recommended. It can not be used along with:
- other antidepressants;
- anti pregnancy pills;
- vasoconstrictor drugs;
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) medications;
- cancer preparations;
Some people, particularly hypertension sufferers, may sustain unwanted reactions using St. John’s wort when eating foods high in the amino acid tyramine, such as beer, wine, many sorts of cheeses, meat, sauerkraut, chocolate, and fermented soy products. Rejecting alcohol and minimizing doses of caffeine is highly suggested during the St. John’s wort treatment course.
St. John’s wort enhances the beneficial actions of many herbs (ashwagandha, capsicum, valerian, and others), increasing the risk of side effects’ severity.
Light therapy (phototherapy or bright therapy) deals with symptoms of SAD and several types of depression. The essence of the process is the impact of the brain chemicals that are linked to mood and sleep by a light therapy box. It gives off light that imitates daylight. It is often used for treatment of:
- depressive states;
- jet lag;
- sleep disorders.
It may help to stabilize the «biological clock» and control sleeping/waking time.
This type of therapy is safe and may be combined with other depression treatments after medical consultation. If the symptoms of depression do not disappear or become worse, it is necessary to discuss the expediency of this type of treatment with a therapist.
Bright therapy may cause the following side effects:
- eyestrain and various visual disturbances;
- sore head;
Escaping unwanted reactions is possible through regulating the amount of time spent under the lamp.
The best effect is achieved when the lamp is used in the morning after waking up. Some patients with SAD inform about improvement after using bright therapy for 1-2 hours in the evening but no later than 1 hour before bedtime. The results of the cure are seen on the second or third day, but might take up to 3 weeks.
See a Therapist
It is possible to overcome depression without medications. There are various training centers which help people who are dealing with feelings of grief, clinical, postpartum, and other types of depression. The recovering program is mostly based on the theory that depression is caused by sets of beliefs and ways of thinking. The self-empowering tools offer the opportunity to deduce the painful beliefs, in order to analyze and change them. Mind and soul training build up the internal sense of freedom and transform sadness to happiness.
Tools and strategies to enhance self-confidence, ease, focus, and self-esteem, help a person to seize opportunities for being happy even when a person does not see a way out. The programs have many positive reviews. After finishing the course, depression sufferers become happy, confident, and optimistic for the future. They can also improve relations with relatives. The programs help manage long-lasting forms of depression that torture people up to 20 years and can change their life outlooks completely.
Professional psychological centers develop different programs for various disorders, for instance:
- anxiety and panic attacks;
- eating disorder;
- chronic fatigue;
- self-confidence practicing;
- fears and phobias;
The most effective way of treatment can be found through private dialogue with a therapist which is available both for individuals and couples. Many patients are absolutely satisfied with the results and have successfully overcome depression.
What Else Can I Try to Fight Depression?
If you have tried everything and still suffer from depression, you should try smart drugs (nootropics). These are effective mood enhancers with many benefits for brain health. While depression is a spectrum problem that requires global life changes, smart drugs can provide real relief. Their action differs from common prescription antidepressants by having a softer effect.
Nuvigil (Armodafinil) is helpful for those who suffer from mental and mood disorders. Used as a wakefulness aid for narcolepsy patients, it has become an off-label drug that potentially fights depression. Its ability to promote concentration, sharp thinking, and ability to focus on exact tasks may help to get rid of negative, intrusive thoughts. The drug increases dopamine activity in the brain, acting like most popular antidepressants. This drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007 which means it may be used safely.
Another option among smart drugs is Provigil (Modafinil). It was approved in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, shift work disorders, and obstructive sleep apnea; it improves energy levels, decreases fatigue, and combats psychomotor activity, which are the most common depression symptoms. Its feature to increase norepinephrine and serotonin in certain brain areas makes its action similar to antidepressants. Provigil tends to reduce or completely reverse the signs of depression.
Check out the complete lists of nootropics in our catalog and defeat your depression once and for all.