Is There A Natural Remedy For Depression?
By: Julia Thomas
Updated June 02, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Depression can make you feel sad, hopeless, or irritable. It can affect your sleeping patterns and appetite. When you're depressed, you may feel like avoiding other people and isolating yourself from your social network. However, some people want to avoid prescription antidepressants if they can. Wouldn't it be nice if there were some kind of effective natural remedy for depression? Actually, there are several that might help, especially if your depression is mild. Here are some options for treating depression naturally.
Herbal Remedies for Depression
Many people find relief from mild symptoms with an herbal supplement for depression. Herbs for depression are relatively safe, but it's important to remember that they still have chemical properties. They can cause side effects and may interact adversely with other medications you're taking. So, if you're being treated for any medical conditions, talk to your doctor before you take any herb for depression.
If you do decide to use an herbal remedy for depression, which one should you use? The following are some of the best herbs for depression
St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is a plant that has been used to help with depression for centuries. Recent interest in this herb has inspired research to find out how effective it is. In one study, researchers found that St. John's wort was more effective than the placebo in treating mild to moderate depression. What's more, it was just as effective as antidepressants for these lower levels of depression. There were also fewer adverse reactions with St. John's wort than with antidepressants. However, its benefits for severe depression were not proven, since there were no subjects with severe depression in the study.
Chamomile is another herb that can be used for depression. It's also helpful for the anxiety that may come along with depression for some people. Not enough studies have been done to clearly establish its effectiveness as a treatment for depression. However, it does seem to work better than a placebo. Chamomile is used most often in tea form.
Ginseng is a natural herbal supplement that's been used in Chinese medicine for millennia. In the distant past, it was typically used to improve mental clarity, increase energy, and minimize the effects of stress. Today, people rely on these same qualities of the herb to help them overcome the low energy aspect of mild to moderate depression.
Saffron is an herb that's often used for cooking. It also seems to help with the symptoms of depression. It appears to be a safe and effective way to help with depression, but systematic, in-depth research is needed to determine just how effective it is.
Homeopathic Remedies for Depression
Homeopathy is a special type of medical system based on the idea that the body has the power to cure itself. So, where does the medicine come in? What a homeopath does is to give the patient natural substances to help the body heal itself. They typically use plants and minerals when they treat depression and other disorders.
Homeopathic remedies are usually not appropriate for people who have severe or long-lasting depression. They're most often used during the time between the time the person realizes they need help and their first psychotherapy appointment. Following is a list of some of the most common homeopathic remedies for depression, especially when it comes with anxiety.
Arsenicum album is a homeopathic medicine based on white arsenic. It's given in doses that are much lower than what would be toxic. It's especially helpful for people who have gastrointestinal symptoms with their depression
Ignatia comes from the bean of a small tree found in China and the Philippines. This homeopathic remedy is most commonly used when a person has depression after losing a loved one or going through a traumatic event.
Natrium muriaticum is the same thing as table salt. Homeopathic practitioners use this supplement when stress is a main feature of a mild depression.
Sepia is a substance that comes from the cuttlefish. It's the fluid that the cuttlefish expels when threatened, also called its "ink." Homeopaths tend to use sepia for depression for symptoms of low energy and feelings of unworthiness. It's also used specifically for women who have postpartum depression or depression that happens during menopause.
Other Natural Medicine for Depression
Natural depression medication like herbs and homeopathic remedies can be very helpful for mild to moderate depression. However, there are other types of supplements that can help as well. These are substances that can commonly be found as nutritional supplements, but they can also benefit people with depression.
There's a supplement called 5 hydroxytryptophan, or 5 HTP, which can help regulate the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that lifts your mood naturally. There isn't enough evidence to prove that 5-HTP is effective as an antidepressant therapy, but many people feel it has helped them. In addition, it's important to avoid taking too much, as that can possibly lead to serious neurological problems.
SAMe, also called S-adenosyl methionine, is a synthetic substance that's a form of a chemical that already occurs naturally in your body. It's been touted as one of the best natural cures for depression, among other conditions. And, in fact, SAMe can be as effective as some antidepressants, including imipramine and SSRIs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
At one point, many people believed that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements could be a natural cure for depression. However, its track record doesn't bear that out. While it can help with depression in some cases, it's only when the person had a deficiency in Omega 3. So if you already have enough Omega-3 in your body, taking more won't help you with your depression.
Non-Medication Depression Interventions
Whether you try herbal, homeopathic, or other natural medicines for depression or not, you can benefit from fighting depression naturally in other ways. Some natural ways to treat depression without taking any supplements include:
- Relaxation techniques
- Yoga or tai chi
- Guided imagery
Lifestyle changes may also offer natural help for depression. People who are depressed often fall into bad personal habits, like eating too much or too little, sleeping at odd hours, or not getting the right amount of exercise. These are symptoms of depression, but they may also be things you can do something about. If you're feeling depressed, you can make the effort to change these habits. Here are some things you can do.
Eat Healthy Foods
You've probably heard that junk food is bad for you. You may have heard it often in your life, both as you were growing up and every time you go to your physician for a checkup. It may be annoying to hear that, especially if you love sweets and greasy foods. But the truth is, unhealthy eating is not only bad for your physical health; it can be harmful for your mental health as well.
So eat the way you know you should, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein in your diet, avoiding too much fat or sugar, and eating the right amount of food for your body. Healthy eating habits really can improve your mood. The good news is that many people who adopt healthy eating habits to improve their physical or mental condition often find that they enjoy it more than they ever imagined they would.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Although you might not be able to control your sleep patterns perfectly, you can take steps to improve them. Here are some sleep hygiene tips:
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
- Put away electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
- Only use your bedroom for sleep and sex.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark.
- Keep your bedroom cool.
- Get into a bedtime routine.
- Avoid daytime napping.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Psychotherapy for Depression
Among the natural ways to treat depression, psychotherapy is one that poses no risk at all to your physical health. It can be used alongside other types of natural cures for depression, as well as in combination with antidepressants or other medications. It's been proven time and time again to help people overcome depression.
Psychotherapy from the patient's perspective may seem to only involve talking to a therapist about their problems. However, the therapist does much more than just keep you company. Therapists usually focus on one type of therapy or take an eclectic approach that draws from many schools of thought. They may use a variety of tried and true techniques to help you reshape your thoughts, come to terms with your experiences, set life goals for yourself, and build a better support system.
Whether you take medications for depression or not, your therapist can teach you how to fight depression naturally. They can guide you as you explore the reasons behind your bad mood. They can help you examine negative thoughts, determine if you want to hold onto them, and replace them if not. They can teach you coping skills for dealing with stressful situations and symptoms of depression that are making your life seem harder.
While it may be easy to pick up a bottle of herbal supplements, getting other types of natural depression treatment may seem intimidating. If you would like to talk to a therapist, BetterHelp makes it easy. There, you can connect with a therapist and start online therapy very quickly. Even though your depression may not be severe, it's important to get help as soon as possible. When you do, you can get back to feeling good again. And who knows? You may even resolve old issues that you've always struggled with so that you can build a happier, more fulfilling life than you've ever had before.
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