In today’s world, it is estimated that one out of seven individuals would suffer from depression symptoms at some point in his life. According to WHO, around 300 million people are struggling with depression worldwide.
Never underestimate the tremendous impact of “mood” on your “body. It is not unusual that people commit suicide due to unbearable stress, be scared to death (literally), or pass away after a long period of blue mood. Scientists try to figure out the physical and biological cause of depression and have succeeded to some degree by identifying a series of hormones and neutral transmitters. Unfortunately, our fight against depression has largely been a failure, as evidenced by ever mounting depression cases with some leading to suicides.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, many people stay at home for an extended period. It is not surprising that lack of outdoors activities and low level of interpersonal communications would only get depression worse. Coincidentally, 2020 is America’s election year, and with the riots occurring across many cities in a polarized political horizon, we are not surprised to hear that even the former first lay Michelle Obama has acknowledged that she is suffering from a low-grade depression.
The conventional treatment, which typically involve antidepressant medications, don’t work for everyone and also carry some side effects. In fact, there are natural remedies that are just effective and help address the problem in the long term. Personal relationship support, physical exercise, well balanced diet and a bunch of nutritional supplements are very promising to fight against depression.
Causes of Depression
We all experience sad moments. That’s normal and part of our human life. However, when a person experiences low mood persistently (months or years) to the point that it interferes with his daily life, that is called depression.
While depression can happen at any age, it often develops in adulthood, especially in middle-aged or older adults with serious medical issues such as cancer, diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Other risk factors include a family history of depression, taking certain medications , major life events, ongoing stress and trauma.
Epigenetic mechanisms, especially DNA methylation, are also likely important factors in the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder (MDD). In an article published by JAMA on August 2018, a study identified 3 methylated sites associated with depressive symptoms.
Conventional treatments for depression are medications and psychotherapy. The most widely medication is SSRIs (i.e. selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors), such as drugs like Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil. While these medications do help patients with depression, they work as symptom “suppressors” rather than “cures”. Once a patient no longer takes the medicine, the symptoms will probably recur. Plus, these medications have serious side effects which include suicidal thoughts, weight gain and personality changes. SSRIs could also cause neurotransmitter degradation, leading to unintended changes in the brain.
Psychotherapy is another option. There are several forms of psychotherapy, including “talk therapy” or counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy , problem-solving oriented therapy, and interpersonal therapy. A study conducted at the Ohio State University found that individual counseling were preferred over the other options.
Which therapy works best is case by case. The author of this article is not an expert in medication and psychotherapy and would not spend much time on this discussion. Instead, we will examine how some natural remedies can treat depression, even more effectively.
1. Personal Relationship and Support
Depression is usually caused by emotional issues. A 2013 study conducted by the University of Michigan claimed that the “quality of social relationships is a major risk factor for major depression.” A strong network of relatives and friends can provide you with support and encouragement. A personal relationships may be one of the most powerful natural remedies for depression.
2. Well-Balanced Diet
Don’t be surprised that food choices can have a significant impact on your mood. You should eat foods that support neurotransmitter function, the brain’s messengers that control mood, energy levels, appetite and many other biological processes.
Depression could be linked to inflammation in the brain. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet should help, such as:
Foods with high Omega-3: Your brain lipids are actually composed of fatty acids and you need omega-3s which benefit the brain by promoting communication processes and reducing inflammation. Some best omega-3 foods include wild-caught fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, natto and egg yolks.
Vegetables and Fruits: They are high in folate and antioxidant, and help improve mood.
Healthy fats: Healthy fats (such as avocados, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil) provide important vitamins and minerals that boost energy levels and mood. On the contrary, consuming trans fats (like hydrogenated oils) increase depression risk.
Protein: Protein, which provide amino acids, is critical for supporting neurological function and balancing hormones. If you don’t eat enough protein, fatigue follows, your immunity weakens and your mood deteriorates. Good source of protein include grass-fed beef, wild fish, organic chicken, free-range eggs, milk produce, etc.
Probiotic Foods: such as yogurt, raw cheese and fermented vegetables.
3. Refrain from Refined Carbohydrates and Sugars
Why you crave refined carbohydrates such as cookies and potato chops when you feel sad? Did you know high carbohydrates foods trigger a release of serotonin, a natural opioid that acts in the brain similarly to the drug opium? Although these foods improve your mood for the time being, they lead to weight gain, sleep issues, candida overgrowth and low energy levels, eventually making your depression symptoms worse.
Diets high in refined sugars damage your brain because they promote inflammation and oxidative stress.
In animal studies, keto seems to improve depression.
4. Fish Oil
Fish oil supplement is a reliable way of getting sufficient Omega-3 fats. We have no doubts about that. Please visit our web page How to Choose Fish Oil.
Probiotic supplements improve GI environment, aid nutrient absorption and help avoid peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels. Due to direct lines of communication from the gut to the brain, so taking probiotics would actually change your behavior and brain chemistry, leading to less severe depression symptoms.
6. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D works like a hormone that impacts brain function. Its deficiency is linked to seasonal affective disorder (or “winter depression”). Vitamin does not require prescription but its effectiveness is no less.
7. Adaptogen Herbs
Such herbs, such as rhodiola and ashwagandha, improve stress hormones and relax the nervous system. The beauty is that they don’t have adverse side effects, as opposed to most antidepressant medications.
8. B Complex
B vitamins are involved in neurotransmitter function. Folate and vitamin B12 levels, in particular, are linked to depressive symptoms. Taking a B-complex vitamin will help to produce serotonin naturally and relieve depressant symptoms.
9. St. John’s Wort
While scientists are not 100% sure how St. John’s wort works to fight depression, it’s believed that it may be associated with its ability to make more serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine., all helping to boost mood and improve the symptoms of depression. Be sure to take this herb only under the guidance of a qualified doctor.
10. Essential Oils
Lavender and Roman Chamomile oil help to relieve stress, promote a peaceful mind and improve sleep. You may want to put 5 – 10 drops to warm bath water or in the bedroom at night or the temples, chest and wrists.
11. Exercise and Outdoors Activities
Exercise boosts your energy, sleep and level of confidence, especially coupled with psychotherapies. Spending time in the sun daily help as well.
Depression is a worldwide “pandemic”, a major cause of mental disability.
While it is necessary to use antidepressant medications, be mindful of their side effects. Counseling is an effective approach.
In fact, there are a number of powerful natural remedies for depression including dietary changes, personal relationship support, nutritional supplements and essential oils, exercise and outdoors activities, etc.