December 11, 2017

Natural Treatment for Depression

Each year, nearly 20 million adults across the United States will suffer from at least one episode of depression.  Many of these individuals choose to get treatment from their physician or a psychologist.  For other individuals, going the natural route is more appealing.

After consulting with their doctor, a patient can choose to seek entirely natural treatments for depression.  Often, these treatments are less toxic for the body, cheaper and even impart added health benefits.  Before starting any treatment plan, patients should always consult with a qualified medical professional in order to make sure that the depression is not due to other reasons such as physical illness or a side effect of the person’s prescription medication.

St. John’s Wort

One of the most popular natural remedies for depression is St. John’s Wort.  This herb has been used for hundreds of years in folk medicine to treat problems relating to poor sleep, nervousness and depression.

Known by the scientific name of Hypericum perforatum, this herb has had over 20 different clinical trials performed that show its success as a treatment for depression.  Overall, it offers a solution that has fewer side effects than typical antidepressant medication.  St. John’s Wort is generally prescribed for mild or moderate cases of depression.   For major depressive episodes, this herb has not been shown to be particularly effective.

Patients who begin taking St. John’s Wort can expect to begin seeing results after four to six weeks.  St. John’s Wort can be purchased at health food stores, online or in drug stores.  Users can also choose between tea, liquid, capsules, extracts or tablet form.

For patients who take St. John’s Wort, the herb is generally safe as long as it is taken alone.  In some instances, side effects such as fatigue, indigestion and dizziness have been reported.  This herb is not intended for pregnant women, children, or anyone with liver disease, bipolar disorder or kidney disease.  It can also increase photosensitivity, so individuals should always be careful to protect their eyes and skin when in the sun.

If you are already on antidepressants talk to your doctor before you use St. John’s Wort.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fats are bad, right? Not so! In reality, individuals need fat for their brain to function normally.  Without enough fat in the diet, people can actually increase their chances of becoming depressed.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also an extremely vital part of the diet.  Studies have shown that there is a link between high rates of depression and a low daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids.  Research has also shown that omea-3s help antidepressants become more effective than they would be on their own.

Patients can choose to buy fish oil capsules to get their daily intake—or they can just get it from their diet.  Salmon, anchovies and sardines are all very rich in omega-3 fatty acids.  In recent years, fears about mercury and chemicals have caused natural remedy enthusiasts to gradually use fish oil capsules instead of eating actual fish.  Most of the companies on the market are careful to filter the fish oil so that all harmful traces of mercury or chemicals are completely removed.

The Importance of a Healthy Diet

To achieve a completely natural cure for depression, individuals should focus on their diet and exercise habits.  High intakes of sweets can cause blood sugar crashes later in the day.  Likewise, alcohol and caffeine can cause mood swings that overall worsen the feelings of depression and insomnia.

Instead, individuals should work on increasing their intake of Vitamin B6 and Magnesium.  Vitamin B6 works to create serotonin and dopamine in the brain.  Without this vital nutrient, the brain cannot make the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters it needs to stay happy.  Diets should also include good sources of magnesium for the same reason.  Stress can cause magnesium levels to be depleted over time.  To increase an individual’s magnesium intake, they should consumer extra nuts, green vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Start a Workout Plan

Once a healthy diet has been achieved, individuals should begin an exercise program.  Each time someone works out, their body releases endorphins in the brain that enhance the mood.  After a while, the process of exercising provides other benefits.  It can help individuals to decreases stress levels, lose weight, gain confidence and develop a focus in life.  All of these factors help reduce the incidence of depression in individuals.

Making the decision to start exercising does not have to involve a marathon.  Patients can improve their depression just by taking a walk for 30 minutes a day.  Some naturopaths recommend yoga for patients suffering from depression.  The smooth stretches help to ease someone into working out and can even offer a meditative benefit.

Acupuncture for Depression

This method for alleviating depression stems from the Far East.  Used for thousands of years by the Chinese, acupuncture is somewhat of a modern miracle.  Although modern scientists cannot explain how, studies have shown that acupuncture actually works.  Whether it is the power of suggestion or a manner of faith healing, visiting an acupuncturist can help to alleviate depression.

Visits to an acupuncturist normally last anywhere from a few seconds to over an hour.  Since these practitioners often have training in herbal medicine, a trip to the acupuncturist is a good opportunity to ask about other herbal cures for depression.

Let the Sunshine In!

Some people seem to undergo mood changes as the seasons switch.  In the dark months of winter, the lack of exposure to sunlight can reduce someone’s serotonin levels.  This chemical is used to influence the mind and produce positive moods.  As the lack of sunlight causes serotonin levels to drop, individuals may begin to feel sad and depressed.

The easiest way to boost serotonin levels in the winter is to get outside.  Patients who are taking St.  John’s Wort should just make sure to throw on some sunscreen first.  If there is not enough sunlight in the day, individuals can purchase special lights that bring the sun indoors.  Certain lights have been created that simulate sunlight.  Most of these lights run around $150 to $500, although those used for light therapy are sometimes covered by insurance.  Offered in multiple styles and sizes, the lights are typically used for 20 to 30 minutes a day to help boost serotonin levels.

Conclusion

Before starting any natural treatment plan, patients should always consult with their doctor.  A general care practitioner is a great source of advice and can help the patient on the road to recovery.

 

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