Depression is starting to lose its stigma as we begin sharing more about our personal struggles and cultivating compassion for those who are going through the same. However, this increasingly common mental health hurdle is still a major hardship for a huge part of our population. For some, prescription anti-depressants can be helpful for getting you back to feeling more balanced — but these powerful meds tend to be over-prescribed, and often without an exit strategy. If you’re struggling with depression looking to take a more natural route, consider these natural remedies for depression from functional medicine expert, Dr. Josh Axe. For a full list of references and resources to back up these tips, check out the original story here…
In the U.S., the number of people on antidepressants rose from 7.7 percent to 12.7 percent overall between 1999–2014, which is nearly a 65 percent increase. Over three of those 12.7 people per 100 say that they’ve been on an antidepressant for “10 years or more.” With all the new prescriptions, many patients still find the side effects of antidepressants to be frustrating. Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
What Is an Antidepressant Drug? Antidepressants are a class of psychoactive (psychotropic, or brain-altering) drugs intended to reduce the signs of depression. They were formulated based on a now-proven-false assumption called the chemical imbalance myth, which presumes that chemical imbalances cause mood disorders. These medications fall into several categories, including SSRIs or “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (the most popular choice for most practitioners), SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), which are considered outdated.
Many patients complain of the side effects of antidepressants they experience in the course of trying to beat depression. Some of the most common and most concerning side effects of antidepressants include: suicidal thoughts, stomach upset, headache, restlessness, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and behavioral changes.
There are a number of natural remedies for depression that include altering your diet, exercising regularly, seeking professional counseling/therapy, using depression-busting supplements, utilizing essential oils and emphasizing personal relationships. Please note: Do not change your antidepressant prescription schedule without the supervision of your prescribing physician.
7 Natural Remedies for Depression
If you feel confused or upset by a lack of “good options” when it comes to managing your depression, you are not alone. However, there are a number of legitimate natural remedies for depression that science supports as making a significant impact on the condition — most of which are associated with no side effects at all.
Eat a Healthy, Well-Balanced Diet. Sound too simplistic? It’s not — a diet that contains whole foods (like fruits and vegetables) and healthy fish is associated with a lowered depression risk. My suggestion is to focus your diet on fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins, healthy fats and fermented foods. Healthy bacteria, like the probiotics in fermented foods and kombucha, can help protect you against leaky gut, a condition in your gut that is linked to depression and anxiety.
Get the Benefits of Exercise. Exercise may outperform antidepressants in reducing these symptoms, especially in the long-term. If you’re at risk for depression or already struggle with it, start an exercise regimen that works for your life. The indications that suggest this benefit don’t refer to a specific type of exercise, rather to getting your body moving and strengthened in general.
Seek Professional Help. While it used to be quite taboo, many people now understand the importance of admitting they have issues with mood, like depression. Multiple types of therapy for depression have been studied with positive results, both with and without treatment with SSRI drugs or other antidepressants at the same time. The most common type of therapy is known as cognitive behavioral therapy, which produces a “large effect size” on the symptoms of depression (and other conditions) and may outperform antidepressants.
Try Depression-Busting Supplements. There are many supplements that researchers have found may effectively reduce or eliminate depression signs. These include: omega-3s (like in fish oil), vitamin D3, chai hu, ginkgo biloba, suan zao ren, passion flower, kava root, St. John’s wort, inositol, probiotics.
Utilize Essential Oils. There are essential oils for depression that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Keep in mind that each oil is different and should only be purchased from a reputable company selling 100 percent therapeutic grade oils. Some oils are meant to be ingested while others are not. Try using these research-supported essential oils to treat depression: lavender, roman chamomile, orange oil, lemongrass.
Emphasize Relationships and Support System. Being in a strong support system of family and friends is one free, side-effect-free way to lower your risk of depression. While depression may typically drive you to end or de-emphasize relationships, this isn’t going to help in the long-term. Ask friends for accountability to keep you and them involved in each other’s lives.
Stay Informed. Many scientists in the field of depression research admit they are dissatisfied with the effectiveness of antidepressants and other current options in the conventional treatment of depression. There are a number of groundbreaking studies being conducted for better depression remedies. I want you to know you’re empowered to advocate for yourself and your own mental health. One part of this is staying informed about the most up-to-date information you can when it comes to depression.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.