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Top 10 Natural Remedies To Treat Depression

Natural Remedies To Treat Depression

Cognitive behavioral therapy, aromatherapy, yoga, sunlight exposure, and bright light therapy can help fight depression. Modify your diet to include more omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation and cut out trans fats and sugars. Ashwagandha and St. John’s wort are two herbal remedies you can consider. Just nurturing relationships and opening up to those around you will also chip away at the condition.

Depression can be overwhelming, but you don’t need to suffer in silence or fight it alone – natural treatments and remedies for depression, mainstream antidepressant medication, and therapy can all ease your way. Surprising as it may be, especially when everything seems hopeless, depression is actually one of the most treatable mental health disorders that exists. About 80 to 90 percent of those who take that step toward professional help and treatment see improvement in their symptoms.1

If antidepressant medication isn’t helping or if you’re looking for natural remedies or alternative treatments for depression, there’s much you can do to help yourself. Keep in mind, though, that these natural and home remedies should be seen as supplemental therapy, done alongside your core treatment.

1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy: To Ease Depression In Just A Few Weeks

An alternative to medication, cognitive behavioral therapy helps to focus on your present, addresses issues with thinking patterns and behavior, and aims at problem solving. You might have sessions one on one with your therapist, or your family and close friends might be invited to join some sessions to help create a support system for you. You could see a significant change in as little as 10 sessions, though treatment may last several weeks or months.2

Even if you are taking antidepressant medication, cognitive therapy when combined with the medication can considerably improve your chances of recovery from major depressive disorder.3

2. Aromatherapy: To Relieve Stress And Improve Sleep

Anyone who works with people who have depression will tell you just how important it is to get adequate rest. If you’re struggling with insomnia or sleep issues, aromatherapy can help you get those precious few extra hours of restful sleep.4 Certain essential oils are more effective for depression than others and can be used in vaporizers in the room or in relaxing massages as aroma oils blended with base or carrier oils. For instance, lavender oil is known to improve mood, help improve sleep, and relieve stress. Its calming and sedative properties are just what you need to wash away your worries and ease into a more mellow state.5

Other essential oils like those of lime, clary sage, and cassia are considered uplifting and can calm frayed nerves and revive you, even if they may not all have been studied in the context of treating depression.6

3. Sunlight Or Bright Light Therapy: To Boost Vitamin D and Treat SAD

If you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that tends to show up in winter and fall when sunlight is at its lowest, the connection to light is obvious. However, even for people with other forms of depression, sunlight exposure can help. While just being outdoors in the fresh air can refresh the mind, it can also help your body produce more vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency due to inadequate sunlight exposure has been linked to depression, so why not take this simple step that could be exactly what your system is begging for.7

An alternative that hasn’t been explored on a wider scale but seems promising is bright light therapy. It is used to treat SAD patients by exposing them to light from a special light box every morning. Now, researchers suggest that it could possibly even help those with non-seasonal depression.8

4. Ayurveda’s Wonder Herb Ashwagandha: To Battle Anxiety And Stress

Ashwagandha or Withania somnifera, a popular Ayurvedic herbal remedy, can help those with depression. It is said to help ease anxiety, a common symptom of depression. 9 It also helps significantly decrease stress-related parameters in those who are chronically stressed, lowering blood pressure, pulse rate, stress hormone cortisol levels, and anxiety scores.10

5. Omega 3 Fatty Acids: To Reduce Inflammatory Processes Linked To Depression

According to some researchers, depression could be linked to the body’s inflammatory process.11 If that is the case, omega-3 fatty acids are among the best-known anti-inflammatory sources you can have. The use of omega-3 supplements to treat depression isn’t prescribed yet. That’s because multiple other factors – like your social environment and your diet – might play a role in influencing how well the supplement can protect you from depression.

Until we fully understand how omega-3 supplementation helps with depression, you could try upping your intake of these essential fatty acids naturally by eating more fatty fish like salmon, tuna, or sardines, or having omega-3 enriched eggs, walnuts, and flax seed.12

6. Probiotics: For Better Gut Health And To Reduce Depressive Symptoms

Another dietary intervention you can make is to start eating probiotics. It might seem odd, but your gut health could influence your mental health due to the connection between your immune system, gut, and brain. Which is why probiotics may actually reduce depressive symptoms besides boosting cognitive function.13 One trial involving patients with irritable bowel syndrome who also had depression and anxiety issues found that a probiotic helped reduce depression. The probiotic was taken daily for a 6-week period and 64 percent of those taking it said they felt an improvement in depression.14 Fermented foods like kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, miso, yogurt or yogurt-based drinks and foods are delicious ways to up your probiotic intake naturally.

7. St. John’s Wort: To Fight Depression Symptoms

St. John’s wort, a remedy with fewer known side effects than many antidepressants, is another option you might consider. This natural remedy for depression can ease depressive symptoms and are as effective as some standard antidepressant medications.15

However, do remember, if you are already on antidepressants, taking this in addition to the prescribed medicines could be potentially dangerous. The herbal remedy has been known to interact with multiple prescription medicines, even causing a life-threatening rise in serotonin levels when taken with antidepressants. Always check with your doctor if it is safe for you to take St. John’s Wort given your medical history and current treatments or medication that you are on.16

8. Exercise, Especially Yoga: To Boost Your Mood And Energize You

Exercise, especially a holistic mind–body intervention like yoga, can help if you are struggling with depression.17 It is a good ancillary or add-on treatment that you can consider alongside other treatment.18

Invigorating poses like handstands, the warrior II pose or virabhadrasana II, sun salutations or surya namaskar, the downward-facing dog or adho mukha svanasana can help both focus your mind and energize you. You could also try the reclining bound angle pose or supta baddha konasana and the corpse pose or savasana to get you the rest you need.19 Just remember to train with a yoga practitioner first or sign up for a class so you get your technique right.

9. Diet Changes: Cut Down Processed Foods And Trans Fats That Raise Depression Risk

Natural remedies are as much about what you don’t eat as what you should eat. Foods that promote inflammation may pose a problem. Consuming a lot of processed foods or high amounts of trans fats that you’d find in mass-produced baked goods, packaged snacks, and fast food could be detrimental to your mental well-being20

Sugar intake may also be associated with instances of major depression. Which is why you should stay off the sugar. Turn to small amounts of natural sweeteners like honey or fruits and fresh unsweetened juices instead of candy and soda if you have a sweet tooth.21

10. Emotional Bonding: Talk It Out And Invest In Relationships

An intuitive solution that is often underestimated is simply finding someone to talk to. Researchers have found that those who have strong social relationships may have a much lower risk of depression – nearly half that of those with the weakest social relationship quality. So work on those friendships and family bonds, and build that circle that can act as a support system. And open up to them. The better the quality of your relationships and the stronger your social support system, the lower your risk of depression.22

References   [ + ]

1, 2. What Is Depression?. American Psychiatric Association.
3. Hollon, Steven D., Robert J. DeRubeis, Jan Fawcett, Jay D. Amsterdam, Richard C. Shelton, John Zajecka, Paula R. Young, and Robert Gallop. “Effect of cognitive therapy with antidepressant medications vs antidepressants alone on the rate of recovery in major depressive disorder: a randomized clinical trial.” JAMA psychiatry 71, no. 10 (2014): 1157-1164.
4. Cho, Mi-Yeon, Eun Sil Min, Myung-Haeng Hur, and Myeong Soo Lee. “Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).
5. Koulivand, Peir Hossein, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji. “Lavender and the nervous system.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).
6. Keville, Kathi, and Mindy Green. Aromatherapy: a complete guide to the healing art. Crossing Press, 2012.
7. Penckofer, Sue, Joanne Kouba, Mary Byrn, and Carol Estwing Ferrans. “Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?.” Issues in mental health nursing 31, no. 6 (2010): 385-393.
8. Oldham, Mark A., and Domenic A. Ciraulo. “Bright light therapy for depression: a review of its effects on chronobiology and the autonomic nervous system.” Chronobiology international 31, no. 3 (2014): 305-319.
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10. Auddy, Biswajit, Phd Jayaram Hazra, and Phd Achintya Mitra. “A standardized Withania somnifera extract significantly reduces stress-related parameters in chronically stressed humans: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.” (2008).
11. Miller, Andrew H., and Charles L. Raison. “The role of inflammation in depression: from evolutionary imperative to modern treatment target.” Nature Reviews Immunology 16, no. 1 (2016): 22-34.
12. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
13. Selhub, Eva M., Alan C. Logan, and Alison C. Bested. “Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry.” Journal of physiological anthropology 33, no. 1 (2014): 2.
14. Pinto-Sanchez, Maria Ines, Geoffrey B. Hall, Kathy Ghajar, Andrea Nardelli, Carolina Bolino, Jennifer T. Lau, Francois-Pierre Martin et al. “Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Gastroenterology (2017).
15. Linde, Klaus, Michael M. Berner, and Levente Kriston. “St John’s wort for major depression.” The Cochrane Library (2008).
16. St. John’s Wort and Depression: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
17. Mehta, Purvi, and Manoj Sharma. “Yoga as a complementary therapy for clinical depression.” Complementary Health Practice Review 15, no. 3 (2010): 156-170.
18. Cramer, Holger, Romy Lauche, Jost Langhorst, and Gustav Dobos. “Yoga for depression: A systematic review and meta‐analysis.” Depression and anxiety 30, no. 11 (2013): 1068-1083.
19. Feel Happier: Poses for Depression & Anxiety. Yoga Journal.
20. Popa, T. A., and M. Ladea. “Nutrition and depression at the forefront of progress.” Journal of medicine and life 5, no. 4 (2012): 414.
21. Westover, Arthur N., and Lauren B. Marangell. “A cross‐national relationship between sugar consumption and major depression?.” Depression and anxiety 16, no. 3 (2002): 118-120.
22. Teo, Alan R., HwaJung Choi, and Marcia Valenstein. “Social relationships and depression: ten-year follow-up from a nationally representative study.” PloS one 8, no. 4 (2013): e62396.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.