Finding the right natural treatment for depression can ease feelings of sadness, numbness, or fatigue – without the nasty side effects of medication! If you’re struggling with clinical depression or the blues, check out these herbs, supplements, foods, and lifestyle tips.
Treating depression naturally depends on the cause of depression. First, you have to realize you’re not alone! Actress Anne Hathaway, who starred in The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries, and Get Smart, struggled with depression, sadness, and hopelessness.
Here’s how she describes it:
“I went through phases in my life when I was really out of balance. It’s not so much that I was depressed; I was in despair, which is a very tricky emotion,” says Hathaway. “It’s self-loathing. It’s hopelessness. It’s worthlessness. It’s a bad, bad place to be.”
If you’re tired of struggling with depression, read The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs by Stephen Ilardi. Here’s what one reader says about this book:
“For the last 7 years I have fought with depression that has gone from mildly inconvenient at times to downright debilitating at other times. I discovered Dr. Ilardi’s book after coming off of almost a full week of being unable to get out of bed. At that point I had already gone through three different types of drugs. Each type I tried would work for a few weeks, and then I’d be back almost to where I started….but then I started to take the recommended doses of the vitamins and noticed some slight changes in a couple of days. I got a light box….this last week for the first time I can remember since I was in high school, I had ZERO symptoms of depression. This in spite of an extremely stressful week at work. It’s hard to put into words what coming out of depression feels like. All I know is that I feel right now in a way that I thought I’d never be able to again. This book- The Depression Cure - is not a pipe dream – it is the real deal.”
Major depression may require treatments that involve both antidepressants and psychotherapy. Less serious or “lighter” depression — feelings of sadness or the blues — may be remedied in natural ways.
Check out these treatments for depressed and sad feelings — you may find something that works for you!
Natural Ways to Treat Depression
Different people find different treatments helpful – and these natural treatments are worth experimenting with.
Pull out of yourself and figure out how to impact others’ lives
Anne Hathaway describes how she overcame her feelings of sadness and depression: “Now, my life has gotten much bigger. I’ve traveled. I’ve seen true suffering. And what I was dealing with pales when compared with what is really going on out there. So then it became not ‘Woe is me’ but ‘Let me help you.’ That changed everything. I was seeing myself as a victim, but I’m in a position of power, and now I’m going to make up for lost time.”
Learn about herbs that cure depression naturally
In The Brain Wash, Michelle Schoffro Cook describes two natural depression medications: St. John’s Wort and ginkgo biloba. “St John’s wort is particularly effective for depression, particularly for mild to moderate symptoms without the side effects often associated with drugs,” writes Cook. St John’s wort may not be as effective for severe or double depression, but if you’re not taking any antidepressants, it may be worth a try.
“Ginkgo Biloba improves neurotransmitter production in the brain and helps bring oxygen-rich blood to the brain to improve functioning,” says Cook. This natural herb may also help fight feelings of despair. To learn more about this natural cure, click Source Naturals’ St. John’s Wort (pictured).
Note about natural herbs, foods, and treatments for depression: Never take St John’s wort, ginkgo biloba or any natural medicine for depression if you’re taking antidepressants such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil or Effexor. Talk to your doctor before combining natural treatments and antidepressants. It’s important to talk to your doctor when you’re trying different cures for depressed feelings, especially if you’re taking any type of prescription medication.
Increase your physical activity – change your lifestyle
Exercise is difficult when you can barely get out of bed or drag yourself to work — so start slow! Go for short walks, swims, yoga classes or bike rides – the movement and oxygen may help you overcome feelings of anxiety and sadness. If you’re struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s especially important to increase your exposure to light.
In How Light Therapy Helps Seasonal Depression, I describe different types of light therapy boxes, which are effective and easy natural ways to treat depression.
Eat natural foods – they can lift depressed feelings
Avoid unnatural processed foods such as refined sugars unhealthy fats, caffeine, processed foods or fast food restaurants. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, natural foods, proteins, and foods high in antioxidants to neutralize free radicals. A natural cure for depression may be in the food you eat! ”Investigate other factors that may contribute to depression, such as anemia, blood sugar imbalances, candida overgrowth, chromium, zinc and/or magnesium deficiencies, adrenal weakness, or toxic overload,” says Cook.
Never underestimate the effects of food and nutrition on your emotions!
Focus on what you love to do
Paint, garden, read, write, daydream….immersing yourself in creative activities can alleviate feelings of self-despair. Expressing yourself and finding your self-identity can are natural cures for depressed feelings. This “treatment” has been shared so many times that it’s a cliche, but it works.
Find ways to laugh
Watch funny movies, go to live comedy shows, tune in to your favorite funny tv sitcoms. Listen to uplifting, upbeat music. Research shows that laughter and music changes brain chemistry and reduces feelings of anxiety, which can help you overcome depressed feelings. Again, natural treatments for depression depend on the cause of depression, and it’s always good to talk to your doctor first.
Breathe in the air, sunshine, and sounds of nature
Drink plenty of water and get some sunshine. Improving your mood can include the basics of life: air, water, and the sun. Oxygen, Vitamin D, and the sights and sounds of nature can soothe your soul – and they’re all natural ways to treat depression.
Look into Omega-3 fatty acids
Increase your Omega-3′s to remedy depression, B-complex vitamins, fish oil supplements, multivitamins and minerals, and S-Adenosylmethionines (SAMe’s). Omega-3 fish oils offer incredible health benefits, besides lifting your mood! Again, talk to your doctor in case these natural treatments can interfere with antidepressants, other prescription medications, or other treatments for depressed feelings.
Cook says, “While some health practitioners dismiss the symptoms as being ‘all in [the patient's] head,’ increasing volumes of research identifying this disorder as a physiological, not psychological problem.”
If your depression is a physiological problem, then curing it may involve physiological treatments (such as antidepressants or natural treatments).
Is someone you love depressed? Here’s how to help a loved one cope with depression.
If you have any thoughts on these natural treatments for depression, please comment below…