7 Natural Remedies for Depression
What is depression?
Many of us feel low from time to time, but depression is much more than simply feeling blue. Severe depression can last from months to years and causes intense feelings of isolation and helplessness which take their toll on relationships, social life and career.
Clinical depression is one of the world's leading mental disorders and is growing at an alarming rate. Here in the UK, the combination of anxiety and depression is the most common mental health disorder, affecting 1 in 10 of us at some point during our lives.
How to fight depression
There are lifestyle changes that can help you to cope with feelings of depression so that they don't persist and intensify. Consider some of the tried and tested remedies for depression below to break the cycle.
1. Exercise regularly
Regular moderate exercise can lift mood, reduce stress and boost self-esteem. In fact, several large-scale studies have found that in certain cases, regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medications and that it makes depression less likely to return for those who continue to exercise. It is thought that exercise boosts the body's release of feel-good endorphins such as serotonin and so helps to improve mood. It's important to find a few different forms of exercise that you enjoy. This will help to keep your motivation levels high.
2. Eat happy
Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and incorporating all the food groups is important for fighting depression. The Mediterranean diet can be particularly beneficial as it includes plenty of fresh fish, which provides the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are the building blocks for normal brain function and can help to improve mood.
Never skip a meal. It's important to eat on a regular basis to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Irregular eating patterns cause peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels and trigger mood swings. Try to avoid sugary drinks and junk food, as these cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, resulting in tiredness and irritability.
3. Get outdoors
The winter months often see a rise in depression rates, particularly for a type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is thought to be caused by the drop in natural sunlight, which results in reduced serotonin production. To combat this, try to get outside as much as possible during daylight hours to expose the skin to natural sunlight. Alternatively, light therapy can also help to boost serotonin levels; this involves sitting near a box emitting light that mimics natural outdoor light.
4. Drink green tea
Studies have found that people who drink more than three cups of green tea per day are 44% less likely to experience depressive symptoms when compared to people who drink little to no green tea. Researchers involved in the trial believe this is due to the amino acid l-theanine in green tea, which appears to act almost like a tranquiliser on the brain.
5. Talk it out
Don't be afraid to talk. Most mental health experts agree that talking can be one of the most important natural treatments for depression. First, consider the reasons why you are feeling low and then try opening up to a friend or family member. This can be therapeutic by removing some of the anxiety associated with depression. You may also want to consider talking to a doctor, who could recommend Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This aims to change the way people think of themselves and improve their state of mind.
6. Be mindful
Mindfulness incorporates mind-body techniques that are designed to improve control over the body and thoughts. Good examples are Tai Chi and yoga, which combine meditation and deep breathing, and have been found to be effective in combating depression. Deep breathing helps you to take control of your thoughts and calm your body. Breathing exercises also increase the oxygen supply to the brain and nervous system, which allows the body to relax and eases low mood. A popular deep breathing technique is the ‘4-7-8' method: Breathe in to the count of four, hold your breath for the count of seven, and then exhale slowly for the count of eight.
7. Natural remedies for depression
Many people use dietary supplements to help relieve depression and support normal cognitive function. If you are feeling low, try these natural remedies for depression:
Vitamin B complex
The B vitamins, particularly B12 and folic acid (B9), may help to ward off depression and other mental health problems. They are essential for the maintenance of the nervous system and brain function. Studies show that people suffering from depression are often deficient in B vitamins. Try a Super Strength Vitamin B Complex supplement to boost your mood.
5HTP is produced by the body as a precursor to the happy hormone serotonin and the sleep hormone melatonin. As a result, it increases serotonin levels and helps to relieve moderate depression and anxiety. 5HTP supplements are thought to work in a similar way to certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
Try a combination of these seven factors to help improve your outlook and alleviate symptoms. Are there any other natural remedies for depression that you find effective? Please note that if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, it is important to consult with a GP for medical advice.