Natural Remedies for Depression and How to Control It
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 05, 2018
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
In the 1960s, psychotropic drugs became a popular treatment for depression. Research demonstrated a link between an imbalance of certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) and depression. So it made sense to fix the imbalance.
The only problem was that many people needed more and more of these medications to have the same affect. This is because the medications did not address the root of the problem; they only covered up the symptoms.
Unfortunately, many people with depression are still taking psychotropic medications that do little to solve the problem in the long run. But recent breakthroughs in natural treatments for depression have made depression management within reach. The following 10 natural cures for depression will have you back to your optimal state of mind-body wellbeing in no time.
Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard understood that creativity, anxiety and depression are closely linked. He believed that anxiety and depression result from an endless supply of creativity. If you do not channel that creativity into a project or work assignment, you may become anxious and depressed.
Channeling your creativity into art or writing project can ease this depression because it allows you to use the right hemisphere of your brain instead of the overused, logical left hemisphere. Your left hemisphere may have beaten your problems to a pulp and decided that there are no good solutions, but your right hemisphere has a deferent perspective.
Allowing your right hemisphere a chance to express itself through creative projects is a natural way to fight depression. Engaging in a fun art project signals to the mind and body that there is no need to be tense, anxious, overwhelmed, or sad.
A well-trained online counselor can help you think of ways to incorporate creativity into your daily routine as a natural depression remedy.
Creative products are a natural remedy for depression, in part, because they force the mind to focus on the present instead of the past or future. Too often, people with anxiety and depression ruminate over the past and worry about the future. In fact, many of the sources of worry are not even real; they are imagined!
But living in the past or future does not allow space for the present. Your five senses may become dull, and you may stop noticing the beauty and joy of the present moment. Even worse, you may not realize the opportunities right in front of you.
Anxiety and depression can feel like a dark box, and when you are in the box, it is difficult to find a way out. Through mindfulness techniques, you can start to reclaim your life by rediscovering how to live in the moment.
Going for a mindfulness walk, in which you activate your five senses to fully immerse yourself in your surroundings is a good way to start cultivating mindfulness. Ideally, mindfulness will become your go-to state of mind.
An online counselor can help you learn how to use mindfulness techniques as natural remedies for anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness is one of many types of meditation. During a meditative practice, you bring your attention to your breath while you shut out distractions. If the mind wanders to anxious rumination, you kindly and compassionately direct it to still.
In the East, meditation has been incorporated into daily life for millennia, but it is just now becoming widely practiced in the West. Researchers have discovered that meditation can lower bodily inflammation, thereby lowering the risk of mental and physical disease.
If you are unfamiliar with meditation, starting your own daily practice can be difficult and even frustrating. An online counselor can help you learn to still your mind and focus on your breath so that you can harness the positive effects of mindfulness as a natural remedy for depression.
Exercise is yet another natural treatment for depression. And you don't need to spend two hours sweating it out in the gym, either. Just 20 minutes of exercise per day can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. If you don't think you have 20 minutes to spare, keep in mind that exercise will also increase focus, so you will be more productive when you return to work.
While aerobic exercise is beneficial for heart health, exercise with the goal of reducing anxiety and depression does not have to be heart pounding and strenuous. In fact, tai chi, a low-impact serious of movement to help energy flow more freely through the body is shown to decrease symptoms of depression. Low-impact exercise may be best for calming the mind and lifting the spirit.
An online counselor can help you determine the exercise regimen that is best to naturally treat your depression.
Yoga and acupuncture for balanced energy
If you are looking for natural ways to treat depression, look no further than yoga and acupuncture. Although yoga was developed in India and acupuncture in China, these two painless therapeutic modalities naturally treat depression by helping energy flow more freely throughout the body-just like tai chi.
Yoga and acupuncture both calm the mind and nervous system, promoting a feeling of relaxation. A person with a relaxed mind is less likely to be depressed than a person with an anxious mind. In fact, yoga and acupuncture may both result in decreased symptoms of depression.
Recently researchers have discovered that depression often coincides with an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the intestinal microbiome. Why does that matter? Researchers believe that the two are linked and that the imbalance of bacteria causes depression.
It is now widely recognized that the brain and gut are connected via a "gut-brain" access. While Western medicine has been premised on the dualist belief that the mind and body are separate, doctors are now beginning to realize that the health of the body influences the mind and vice versa.
So what does that mean for you? It means that nutrition may be a great way to treat depression naturally. A diet full of whole, unprocessed foods feeds the good bacteria in your intestines, strengthening them and promoting overall physical and mental wellbeing.
If you've ever noticed that food has an impact on your mind, you understand how this works. Now there is scientific evidence to support the mind-body connection. If you are serious about discovering how to treat depression naturally, dietary changes need to be a part of the equation.
In fact, certain foods can directly promote the synthesis of serotonin (the "feel good" chemical) in the brain. Carbs eaten without protein are particularly effective, as are turmeric, dark chocolate, green tea, and fermented foods.
Herbs and Supplements
Strategic consumption of herbs and supplements is another natural treatment for depression.
Natural herbs for depression include: St. John's Wort, lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, and saffron.
Natural supplements for depression include: SAM-e (a synthetic mood boosting agent), folate, zinc, theanine, vitamin D, and vitamin B.
Be sure to talk to your doctor about any possible interactions between these herbs and supplements and your pharmaceutical medication. If taken under the care of a doctor, herbs and supplements are great natural remedies for depression and anxiety.
Another natural treatment for anxiety is technology. There are now many phone applications available to track your mood, send helpful relaxation tips, and help fight cognitive distortions. Depression CBT, Health through Breath, and MoodKit are just a few examples.
While some people believe that technology has contributed to feelings of depression and loneliness because it limits face-to-face interactions, technology can also be an important tool in the fight against depression.
Books about Mindset
Books about the mindset for the general public are increasing in popularity as people discover that the written word has power over how we think.
In her famous book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success¸ Dr. Carol Dweck teaches readers the difference between a growth and fixed mindset. Dweck believes that developing a growth mindset, or the understanding that achievements and skills are never fixed is an important way to avoid depression.
In contrast, a person with a fixed mindset is likely to think that achievements and skills are set in stone. This mindset can lead to a feeling of inadequacy and depression.
Cultivating a growth mindset and reading other books about the mind are powerful natural treatments for depression.
An online counselor can help you decide which natural treatments are right to treat your specific case of depression. Anxiety and depression need to be taken seriously, as their symptoms can be devastating if they are allowed to take over. An online counselor can ensure that you have all the tools you need to naturally treat your depression.