16 Natural Ways to Help Depression

It seems that in our modern age with political conflict and unrest, along with what seems like an increasingly aggressive society, depression is on the rise. Of course, external issues arenít the only cause of depression; more often depression comes from internal imbalances.

Because your brain plays a significant role in whether you suffer from a mental health condition like depression, it is important to incorporate those foods, herbs and supplements that help balance brain health, while avoiding those that aggravate it.

So, what can you do? Here are my preferred ways to deal with depression (of course, you should seek counseling or medical care if your depression is severe):

Start with Your Gut

Experts sometimes refer to the gut as the second brain due to the link between the gut and brain health (which is called the gut-brain axis). Boost up your intake of fermented foods like sauerkraut, plant-based yogurt, kimchióall with live culturesóto boost both the quantity and diversity of gut microbes.

Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Harvard research found that high animal protein diets such as the popular paleo, ketogenics and Atkins diets cause an increase in inflammation-causing bacteria to grow in the intestines. Depression has been increasingly linked with inflammation so it is important to quell inflammation for long-term and lasting results. Eat more vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grainsópreferably gluten-free choices like oats, quinoa, rice and milletósince many people with depression have gluten sensitivities.

Reduce Your Sugar Consumption

Sugar is one of the main causes of inflammation, which is linked to over 80 diseases, including depression. Reduce the amount of sugar you eat in favor of whole fruits.

Get Out in Nature

A study conducted by the University of Exeter and the University of Trnava, Slovakia found that people who live in more densely forested areas are less likely to be taking anti-depressant medications.† Even if you donít live in the forest you can seek out forested or natural places to take regular walks or to simply meditate and inhale the fresh, oxygen-rich air.

Supplement with Vitamin D

Obviously, this is most important during colder, cloudier months when our sun exposure is insufficient to supply our vitamin D needs. There is a correlation between insufficient vitamin D and the symptoms of depression. Supplementing with 1000mg daily is enough to restore levels of this hormone known as vitamin D. Follow package instructions.

Supplement with 5-HTP

5-HTP is a precursor to the mood-boosting hormone known as serotonin. When serotonin levels drop too low we are more at risk of depression, but 5-HTP helps to restore healthy levels of this much needed brain chemical. Usually 50 to 100 mg of 5-HTP at bedtime is sufficient for people with depression. Follow package directions of the product you choose.

Boost Oxygen to the Brain

Go for a brisk walk or join a dance class or do something that gets your blood pumping. Exercise is the best way to get adequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood moving to your brain.

Eat Regularly

Donít skip meals or wait for more than a few hours before eating your next meal. Blood sugar fluctuations can have a detrimental impact on brain hormones so itís important to keep your blood sugar levels stable. The best way to do that is to eat regularly.

Supplement with a High-Quality Multivitamin and Mineral

Any nutrient deficiency can aggravate depression so it is important to ensure youíre getting a great diet and supplementing with vitamins and minerals that may be deficient.

Add Extra B Complex

Consider adding a B-complex supplement to your daily diet. B complex vitamins are involved with thousands of biochemical processes in your body, including helping to ensure adequate energy for brain functions. Make sure you choose a natural supplement free of artificial colors, flavors or fillers. A 100 milligram supplement is a commonly prescribed dose for depression sufferers (with 100 MICROgrams of folate and B12).

Enjoy a Cup of Joe

In an analysis of 12 studies comprising nearly 350,000 people, researchers found that a small amount of coffee had a protective effect against depression. The researchers found the best results among those who drank coffee but had low levels of caffeine. Thatís not surprising considering caffeine can suppress the release of serotonin. So, enjoy your java but stick to a cup a day or switch to decaf.

Diffuse Lavender Essential Oil

Research found that lavender was as effective as a common drug used in the treatment of depression. Additionally, other research found that inhaling the scent of lavender essential oil every 8 hours for 4 weeks immediately following pregnancy significantly reduced the risk of postpartum depression. It is likely lavenderís natural constituent known as linalool that is responsible for the herbís antidepressant qualities. Linalool seems to regulate serotonin levels in those suffering from depression.

Inhale the Scent of Fresh Rosemary

Inhaling the scent of fresh rosemary or rosemary essential oil has been found to have a potent antidepressant effect. The study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, found that regularly inhaling rosemary reversed depression about as well as the drug fluoxetine.

Boost Your Omega 3s

Approximately 60 percent of our brain is made up of fats. We need healthy Omega 3 fatty acids in our diet to maintain a healthy brain and brain function. Add raw walnuts, walnut oil, ground flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, or fatty fish like wild salmon or sardines to your diet.

Eliminate Alcohol

While you may enjoy an occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer, it is best to skip it if you suffer from depression. Thatís because alcohol is a depressant and can aggravate symptoms in people who are depressed.

Take St. Johnís Wort

There is a large body of research linking St. Johnís Wort with the reduction of depression. Some studies demonstrate that it is as effective as anti-depressant drugs. Most studies have been conducted on minor depression, St. Johnís Wort has shown effectiveness against major depression as well.

Other research in the Journal of Zhejiang University Medical Sciences found that the combination of St. Johnís Wort and the nutrient quercetin boost the effects of the herb. Considering St. Johnís Wortís safety record is far superior to drugs used for depression, it is worth considering. Follow package directions for the best results. A typical dose for depression is 300 mg three times daily.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worldís Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, president of ScentsationalWellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Life Force Diet: 3 Weeks to Supercharge Your Health and Get Slim with Enzyme-Rich Foods.

113 comments

Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s2 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s2 months ago

Thank you

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Angel W
Past Member 2 months ago

thanks
I have severe depression

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s2 months ago

Thank you

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Angela G
Angela G2 months ago

ok

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Paulo R
Paulo R2 months ago

ty

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