In the eerily prophetic book Brave New World, Aldous Huxley foresees a future society “high” on mood-enhancing drugs. Cut to 2009–how right he was. Worldwide sales of antidepressants topped 30 billion dollars last year and while it’s clear this phenomenon isn’t going anywhere, there are a bunch of things we can try before trekking to the pharmacy.
Natural Cures for Depression
• St. John’s Wort This “miracle herb” is one of the most popular natural remedies on the market, simply because it works. Scientifically it’s been shown to have an impact on mild forms of depression and is commonly prescribed in Germany in place of chemical anti-depressants. “Overall, we’ve found that St. John’s wort extracts are as effective as standard antidepressants, with fewer side effects,” said Klaus Linde, lead researcher, for the Centre for Complementary Medicine in Munich, Germany in an article for Science Daily. The plant produces a number of different substances that may have anti-depressive properties, but the whole extract is considered to be more effective.
• Revamp Your Diet Too many refined carbohydrates and a diet low in omega3-fatty acids has been linked to depression. If you’ve been feeling blue try switching out some of your processed foods for whole food–this is food as close to its natural state as possible. To get those all-important omega3′s the answer is simple–fish. Salmon, tuna and herring all have high concentrations of omega3-fatty acids and just 3-4 servings a week will give you a much-needed boost. Try taking a fish oil supplement if eating fish regularly is not feasible. Check here for other foods that boost serotonin.
• Exercise It’s that dreaded word! Yes, we’ve all heard the rumor that exercise is a great depression minimizer but it’s fast becoming fact as study after study back it up. Not only does a regular routine boost your self-esteem, even with light exercise, your body releases endorphins that directly effect the level of pain you are able to perceive both mentally and physically.
• Meditation Get ready to Om. Just 15 minutes of daily meditation can work wonders if you’re in a funk. Learning the simple act of mindfullness helps put things into perspective and can calm a busy mind. 15 minutes of silence may sound daunting but there is no right (and therefore, no wrong) way to meditate. Anyone can practice meditation. It’s easy, free and doesn’t require any particular skill or training. Spiritual leader Deepak Chopra gives some easy meditation tips here.