For most patients, dealing with depression tends to be a lengthy and often lifelong journey of searching for the right therapy, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and managing the symptoms or episodes as they arise. While several FDA-approved medications can alleviate the symptoms of depression, many opt for natural remedies instead. Many of these remedies have been used for centuries as alternative treatments for depression. Certain herbs and natural supplements have proven to be effective mood boosters for those who experience overwhelming or chronic feelings of melancholy. Here are the top natural remedies that can help lift your spirits, and hopefully, enable you to manage depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a healthy type of fat found in fish. They’re also available in supplement form, commonly referred to as fish oil capsules. Research suggests that those with low levels of EPA and DHA – two chemicals found in the brain – may have a higher risk of developing depression. Fortunately, those two chemicals are found in omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements. If you prefer to get your recommended omega-3 oils intake right from the source, eat fish three times a week. Opt for fish with low mercury levels, such as salmon, sardines, light canned tuna, and freshwater trout.
Research suggests that consuming 500 micrograms of folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) per day can improve the effectiveness of many antidepressants. To increase your folate levels, incorporate folate-rich foods, such as lentils, beans, avocados, and dark leafy greens, into your diet. You can also opt for nutraceutical l-methylfolate 15 mg supplements. These are derived from natural ingredients and foods, making them safe to use. While traditional antidepressants block the reabsorption of neurotransmitters, l-methylfolate boosts their production. In return, this, along with the right dose of antidepressants, gives your brain the boost it needs to produce norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Chamomile, which comes from the fragrant Matricaria chamomilla plant, has been shown to relieve depression and anxiety symptoms. It is also one of the oldest, most popular home remedies for insomnia. While further studies are needed to confirm the health benefits of chamomile in treating depressive symptoms, it is known to promote overall relaxation, which can help alleviate many of the side effects of depression.
St. John’s Wort
Native to northern Africa, western Asia, and Europe, St. John’s wort is commonly used to treat depression, as it has been linked with increased levels of serotonin in the body. As you may already know, serotonin is a feel-good brain chemical often lacking in patients with depression. Although it can help those who suffer from mild to moderate depressive symptoms, it is important to note that the FDA hasn’t approved the use of St. John’s wort for treating mood disorders yet. The herb can interact with various other medications, including birth control pills, blood thinners, and chemotherapy drugs. So, before you add it to your diet, make sure you check with your doctor first.
For centuries, saffron has been used in Eastern medicine to treat various ailments, including mood disorders. Extracted from the Crocus sativus flower, this vibrant spice has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties. Several small studies have proven that the bioactive compounds found in saffron are as effective as many conventional antidepressants. However, it is worth mentioning that these findings were only observed in patients with mild or moderate depression.
For thousands of years, people have used essential oils as complementary treatments for various conditions, including anxiety and depression. Although it does not cure depression, lavender can help relieve some of its symptoms. The floral scent of lavender oil has calming effects that may help reduce your stress and anxiety, boost your mood, and promote overall relaxation. Moreover, research shows that lavender tinctures (made from fresh lavender herbs mixed with a dash of alcohol) may help those who suffer from mild to moderate depression manage their symptoms.
Nutrition is one of the most gravely overlooked aspects that can affect our mental health and overall wellbeing. As you can see, Mother Nature has blessed us with various ingredients that can help those who frequently experience milder forms of depression. Not only can these natural remedies help alleviate your symptoms, but they will also improve your physical health. However, it is important to note that these supplements and herbs aren’t substitutes for professional psychological treatment. Depression is a tricky disorder, so make sure you work with a therapist to find a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs.