Natural Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

Natural Treatments for Depression

We all get the blues in our life and this is part of being human. You know that in time you will get back to yourself. But what happens when it doesn’t happens? Depression is a medical condition that goes beyond life’s ordinary ups and downs. People with depression cannot simply “pull themselves together” and get better.

In this article I am going to cover effective natural treatments for depression and anxiety. These conditions have become wide spread all over the world.

Depression is a state of low mood, hopelessness, and lack of enthusiasm or energy to do anything. A depressed person may have negative thoughts or feelings which might also affect his physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, worried, worthless, irritable or restless.

They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions. They can also experience excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains, or digestive problems. In severe cases they might even attempt suicide.

Here I’m going to share with you natural cures for depression and anxiety that have been proven to be effective according to studies.

They may help you feel better in cases of mild to moderate depression without the side effects of standard antidepressant drugs.

Important note – Though the natural remedies for depression that will be listed below can be very helpful, it is recommended not to try all of them at once (except of psychotherapy which can be combined with a natural supplement). Give each one a period of a few weeks, and then if it’s not working, try another one.

Also you need to consult with your doctor before taking any of the supplements mentioned below to make sure there is no interaction with other medications you take.

Natural Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

1. 5-HTP

5-HTP stands for 5-Hydroxytryptophan. It is a naturally occurring amino acid and chemical precursor in our body, and is the component of which our body makes serotonin. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, anxiety and aggressive behavior. In animal and human studies, 5-HTP has increased other neurotransmitters that are involved in mood.

5-HTP is sold over the counter as a dietary supplement for use as an antidepressant, and because it increases serotonin, it has a calming, relaxing effect on the brain chemistry. It is used for mild and moderate depression and it may also help you sleep better. It is recommended to start with 50 mg three times a day and increase if necessary after 2 weeks. A common dose for depression is 300 mg daily.

Important note – While 5 HTP became popular because it helps the body to release more serotonin which can alleviate symptoms of depression, it can have a negative impact on dopamine levels.

A study published in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment stated that long-term use can cause side effects, one of them being a depletion in dopamine levels. When dopamine levels become too low, 5 HTP loses its effectiveness and can make the symptoms of depression worse.

2. Fish Oil or Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are a family of polyunsaturated fats essential to your body. They come in different lengths: short chain fatty acids and long ones (EPA and DHA).

A comprehensive meta-analysis concluded that omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are effective at treating low mood and even patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

A study published on 2014 mentioned that omega-3 can treat many inflammatory-related diseases, including depressive disorders.

According to Mayo Clinic, fish oil isn’t considered a replacement for treatment of mild to moderate depression, but it may be helpful as an addition to prescribed medications or other treatments.

3. St. John Wort

As mentioned in my e-book the Herbal Remedies Guide, St. John Wort is a perennial herb that has a long history of use for anxiety and sleep disorders.

This herb was officially recognized as an antidepressant in 1998 and is the number one prescribed antidepressant in Germany and most of Europe.

Studies have found that this herb was more effective for treating mild depression. According to these studies, about 10% of the patients had side effects (like dry mouth, allergic reactions and some upset tummy) compared with about 35% of patients who used prescription antidepressant.

Studies into St John’s Wort show that it helps dopamine to be metabolized more efficiently in the brain. This results in a reduction of mild to moderate depression symptoms.

Standardized extracts are generally available over the counter, though in some countries a prescription is required. Extracts are usually in tablet or capsule form.

You can also prepare a tea using the flowering tops: make it as a standard infusion by pouring boiling water over the flowers, and leave to steep until cool enough to drink. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb for each cup of water.

4. SAM-e

SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine) is a chemical found naturally in the body, and has been available as a dietary supplement in the US since 1999.

According to studies, SAM-e works as well as certain standard antidepressants and with fewer side effects. Mild or moderate depression respond better to SAM-e than major depression.

Dr. Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, uses SAM-e supplements to treat patients suffering from depression. He says that the effectiveness of SAM-e is comparable to many antidepressants and that it boosts the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Because people with Parkinson’s disease often suffer from depression, SAM-e can help alleviate those symptoms and boost dopamine levels naturally.

Some people also take NAC (N-acetylcysteine) as it may assist in treating depression.

5. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy treats depression by talking about your condition with a mental health provider such as a counselor, clinical psychologist or psychotherapist, and can play an important role in the right path for your recovery.

According to WebMD, many studies confirm that therapy can be a powerful treatment for depression, and some of them have also found that combining depression medicine with therapy can be particularly effective and can significantly reduced depression symptoms.

The counselor is trained to listen to you with empathy and can guide you on how to deal with any negative thoughts and feelings that you have, how to have a more positive outlook on life and understand yourself and your problems better.

Ask people you trust for recommendations or ask your physician about suitable counseling options for you.

6. Turmeric (curcumin)

The core medicinal component in turmeric is the curcumin, a major active ingredient which yields several health benefits.

There is evidence in clinical tests that the active ingredients in turmeric have alleviated stress and depression within test animals, but human testing still needs a firm grounding.

A 2006 study done by the School of Basic Medical Science at Peking University was inspired by earlier tests that showed the antidepressant effects of curcumin.

The study concludes that there are multiple ways in which “chronically stressed animals, and by extension humans”, with stress-related depression can benefit from turmeric’s main active ingredient.

Furthermore, a 2009 study published in the Scientific World Journal suggests that curcumin can stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine (both essential chemicals for positive mental health). The study concludes that “a need for clinical trials in order to explore the antidepressant efficacy and safety profile of curcumin is emphasized.”

A 2014 study done by Dr Adrian Lopresti from the School of Psychology and Exercise Science studied the effects of curcumin on 56 volunteers with a major depressive disorder. Half were treated with a patented curcumin extract (500mg twice daily) and the other half took a placebo for eight weeks. Dr Lopresti found that curcumin was significantly more effective than the placebo in improving several mood-related symptoms in the volunteers.

According to Dr Lopresti, previous studies had found strong links between inflammation in the body and depression and that curcumin influenced several biological mechanisms including inflammation, so this study suggest that depression can be treated with a substance that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and that depression is not all about brain chemicals such as serotonin.

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends that if you want to try turmeric or curcumin supplements to see if they help improve mood, you should look for products standardized for 95% curcuminoids that also contain piperine or black pepper extract to improve turmeric absorption.

Follow the dosage instructions on labels, however be aware that you shouldn’t use turmeric if you have gallstones or bile duct dysfunction, and pregnant women shouldn’t use it without their doctors’ approval. Also if you take other medications, you should consult with your doctor to make sure the turmeric supplement don’t interfere with other medications you take.

Dangers of Depression Medications

With patients that take antidepressants, about 10% – 30% remain unaffected and the remaining patients are never fully freed of their ailment, not to mention the wealth of negative side effects.

Considering the billions of dollars pumped into the global antidepressant trade in recent years, it’s no wonder holistic treatment such as turmeric have fallen under the bus. The plant rhizome and common kitchen spice has been used for health much longer than modern treatments, about 4000 years, and remains a staple in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

Hopefully future studies will reveal greater insight to natural treatment of depression, a mental health burden that is estimated to be the second most common illness among humans within the next couple of years.

Read my other related articles:
1. The Best Essential Oils For Anxiety And Depression
2. Dopamine Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms, and Solutions

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