As an MD, Iíve watched too many of my colleagues yank out anti-depressant samples every time a patient starts to cry. So on behalf of physicians everywhere, let me apologize for our trigger-happy prescription-writing behavior. I donít mean to diminish the pain someone who is depressed might experience. But tears are healthy. Sadness doesnít always need treatment. And itís important to remember that the pain muscle and the joy muscle are the same. If you canít feel one, you wonít feel the other.
That said, clinical depression sucks, and if youíre someone who suffers from it, my heart goes out to you. Iím in no way intending to diss anti-depressants or suggest you ignore your doctorís advice. I know anti-depressants can be life-saving for people. But unless youíre suicidal or otherwise in dire need of urgent medication, before you dose up on side-effect laden pharmaceuticals, itís worth considering some natural treatments that might help lift your mood.
How To Treat Depression Naturally
1.† Consider why you might feel depressed. Sometimes depression is a symptom of something circumstantial in your life, rather than biochemical imbalances. Does your job require you to sell out your integrity every day? Have you been unable to admit that you need to end your marriage? Are you feeling spiritually disconnected or sexually restless? Are you suffering from creative blocks? Is your body failing you? Are you facing financial ruin? Be honest with yourself about what might be off-kilter in your life, and make an effort to get to the root of why you might be feeling depressed.
2.† Move your body. Exercise releases happy-making endorphins, which act like natural anti-depressants. Runnerís high, anyone?
3.† Never skip a meal. Keeping your blood sugar stable reduces mood swings.
4.† Eat a serotonin-enhancing diet. Many anti-depressants like Prozac act by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by receptors in the brain, thereby increasing serotonin levels. But you can increase your brainís serotonin levels by eating foods that boost your serotonin levels naturally.
Serotonin-enhancing foods include:
- Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies, which are even higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other fish)
- Healthy fats like coconut oil
- Eat a high protein diet, especially proteins high in tryptophan, like free range turkey
5.† Avoid caffeine, which reduces serotonin levels. If you need an energy boost, supplement with L-Tyrosine (500 Ė 1000 mg).
Next: Mood-enhancing supplements and test your hormone levels