Depression can be characterized by low moods, feelings of deep sadness, irritability, despair, feelings of helplessness and anger. Everyone experiences intense sadness at some point in their life due to various factors such as bereavement, serious illness and divorce. It is normal to feel sad, but once a low mood begins to interfere with your everyday life for an extended period, it can be classified as depression.
Depression can lead to a loss of interest in normal everyday activities, sleep changes, weight problems, self-loathing, frequent crying episodes, loss of employment, relationship problems, unexplained aches and pains and risk- taking behavior. It is of the utmost importance that depression is treated in its early stages because, if left untreated, it can lead to suicide. The good news is that depression does not last forever and there are many ways to overcome it.
For severe depression you can choose a treatment plan with a combination of anti-depressants such as Tricyclics or SSRI’s (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and talk therapy. Depending on the individual, anti depressants can have undesirable effects such as dizziness, weight gain, nausea, mood-swings, blurred vision, increased suicidal behavior, dry-mouth, erectile dysfunction, abdominal pain, loss of libido and anxiety.
Those with mild to moderate depressive disorder can opt for a more natural approach in their treatment, thus ensuring that they are not subject to any side effects from anti-depressants. You should always consult your General Practitioner before embarking on a natural treatment plan for depression. The following list explores various natural ways to treat depressive illness.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a very effective tool in helping to combat depression. CBT focuses on thoughts and how they influence one’s feelings and behavior. This is very different to the outdated mode of therapy that is psychoanalysis which examines how other people and events are responsible for a person’s emotional issues.
A therapist can help you become more aware of your negative thoughts that cause anxiety, bodily tension and depression. CBT will lead you to think more positively and can give you the tools to control your thoughts instead of letting them control you. There is truth in the old proverb “a problem shared is a problem halved” as it always helps to discuss issues with someone rather than bottle them up inside. A therapist can offer impartial advice and confidentiality.
Exercise is a great way to boost endorphins and reduce depression. As little as 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day can boost one’s mood for up to 12 hours. Whether it’s taking a Zumba class, jogging on a treadmill or simply playing baseball with your friends, you are guaranteed to feel happier and reduce your depression in the long term.
Exercise leads to a trim and strong physique which can give you some much-needed confidence if you are feeling depressed. It’s important to maintain friendships when suffering from depression so having your friend’s exercise with you will make it more fun. Friends will also motivate you to workout harder so that you get the full benefits of your exercise regime.
Healthy eating is a crucial part in beating depression because the body and mind can only function to their full potential when given nutritious food. Avoid processed food such as white bread, pasta and chips. These empty carbohydrates will give you an instant boost in energy that will soon be followed by a severe dip in energy and mood. Sugary foods such as cakes and chocolate should also be avoided as they will cause a severe spike in blood sugar levels followed by low energy and irritability. This can lead to mood-swings and aggravate depression even further.
It is important to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet in order to give yourself as much energy as possible and to regulate your mood. Certain foods can boost serotonin levels such as bananas, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, cheese and dark chocolate (in moderation). Always make sure to get healthy sources of protein from fish, lean meat or Spirulina powder.
Drink lots of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and to flush out toxins. The body needs adequate amounts of vitamins, nutrients and amino acids in order for it to function properly on a daily basis. A healthy body really does lead to a healthy mind and a diet full of nutritious food gives you a strong start in fighting depression. It is also important to avoid excessive use of alcohol as this may give you a momentary mood-lift but will inevitably lead to severe depression in a long run.
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are an important part in brain functioning. Those suffering from depression may have low levels of brain chemicals called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Fish oils contain both of these chemicals and will help alleviate mild to moderate depression. It is best to take fish oils as oppose to capsules. The recommended dosage for treating depression is between 100-300 mg per day.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is herb found in that is known to treat many different ailments. It has been taken for centuries to alleviate depression. In Germany it is often prescribed instead of medication in the treatment for mild depression in both for adults and children. St. John’s Wort has fewer side effects than conventional antidepressants. It should not be taken with antidepressants. The average dosage for depression is daily.
Loud ringing alarm clocks shock the body into waking up which can leave a person feeling lethargic and irritable. Dawn simulators are akin to natural alarm clocks that mimic the effects of the rising sun. They let you wake naturally and may reduce depression especially Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Exposure to sunlight leads to an increase in serotonin production in the body. The dawn simulator reproduces the gradual rising of sunlight during sleep so that we wake feeling happy and refreshed. Most people find it difficult to get out of bed when they’re depressed as serotonin levels are lowest in the morning. The dawn simulator increases serotonin when it is needed most and is an effective tool in combating depression.