Depression is the modern plague. It seems to be everywhere these days, and claims lives at an alarming rate. To treat this scourge, many doctors have come to rely on antidepressants to help their ailing patients, but there’s also an increasing push against Big Pharma and their expensive drugs, as well as a desire of more people to avoid being reliant on a pill for maintaining their mood. This has left many depression sufferers stuck wanting to feel better and treat their depression, but not wanting to use drugs to do it.
Depression is, clinically, an insufficient amount of the chemical serotonin (AKA 5-hydroxytryptamine) in the body. This neurotransmitter comes from tryptophan and is primarily found in your gastrointestinal system, blood, and nervous system. Too little of it will leave you drained, unhappy, tired, irritable, and cause a multitude of other symptoms both mental and physical to occur in your body.
In the United States alone it is estimated that there are more than 40 million people on antidepressants. That’s higher than the number of diabetics who take insulin. Worldwide, the numbers are far greater as more industrialized nations are adopting Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) as common prescriptions for their patients suffering from depressive symptoms.
Some studies claim that as many as two-thirds of those individuals on antidepressants do not need to be. Others show that widespread side-effects make these pills more troublesome than helpful for many patients, only adding to their woes, rather than granting them succor.
How To Go The Natural Way
We believe in doing what is right for you, and that is to be determined by yourself and your doctor. However, if you have issues with depression, like so many of us do, then we want you to get all the possible relief you can. Which is why we collected 15 natural and holistic ways to fight depression. These can be added to medications or not, depending on what you and your physician decide.
Before using any of these recommendations, consult with your physician to ensure it will not damage or endanger your health, and that it is an acceptable treatment for your body.
The simplest place to start in a struggle with depression is with a few supplements. They fulfill some of the same needs that the pharmaceutical pills do, without the same side effects. We’ve found varying degrees of success with the following 7 supplements. As with medication, it’s trial and error as to what will work for you.
True, this is also a supplement, but having a strong backing of B-12 and B-1 (also known as thiamine) vitamins is a good idea whether you suffer from depression or not. They’re natural energy boosters and help with cognition, so you can’t go too wrong.
We also separate out Magnesium from the other supplements because it is far more systemic. It is tied to many body processes – digestion, respiration, nutrient absorption, cardiovascular activity, and neurological behavior to name a few – and will often help with problems you weren’t aware you had.
Full Spectrum Light
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is treated with a full spectrum light, but many of us are starved for sufficient natural light, spending our days under office fluorescents and our nights in front of computer and television screens. Adding in a handy full spectrum bulb could light your woes away.
Add “Happy” Foods to Your Diet
This is a complicated process that isn’t just about what you consume, but how you consume it. Rather than try to explain it all here, we’ll let rapmaster Deane Alban explain serotonin, diet, carbs, protein, and how MIT research points the path to a happier gut and better life.
Therapy / Support Groups
Whatever you may think of therapy or talking about your feelings, they have been shown to aid those with depression by creating a support structure and increasing social involvement, which is necessary for nearly every person. We’re social creatures who need to dump our problems off somewhere to eliminate stress and relieve some depressive symptoms.
While we’d much rather find awesome lists of yachts and weird hotels than go dancing or cliff diving, exercise raises endorphins for long term good feelings. This is the hardest one to do when you’re depressed (we know firsthand) but a little goes a long way. A short walk, a few minutes of yoga, or even some athletic sex is all it takes to get a lot happier.
Cut the Chemicals
Adulterants like caffeine and alcohol exacerbate depression over the long run. They are quick-fixes that feel good right now, but ultimately cause more problems than they solve.
Drink Green Tea
Here’s the one place you can get your caffeine without causing depressive crashes later on. Green tea has a little caffeine, but it also has L-theanine. Working in concert, these two things get across your blood-brain barrier more naturally and help keep your mood up over the long run.
Balance Your Hormones
For this one, you’re going to need a doctor. Getting your adrenal glands, sex hormones, and thyroid in tip-top shape can knock out depression, along with several mood disorders. Having these levels checked can tell you a lot more about what to change before depression eats you alive:
- Tests for Thyroid: TSH, free and total T3, free T4, thyroid antibodies, and TSH
- Tests for Adrenal Gland: pregnenolone, cortisol, and DHEA-S
- Tests fo Sex hormones: free and total testosterone, estradiol, and progesterone
We all create stress because we’re a thousand different people. This can lead to identity issues and force us to create a lot of masks, which hide depression. Just being more open with everyone can help alleviate some of this depressive stress and create greater personal harmony, which makes life more whole and simple.
Schedule Sufficient Sleep Time
Insomnia and excessive sleeping are both markers of depression. If you suffer with either, talking with your doctor is imperative to get yourself regulated. Make sure you have as much time to sleep as you can, but aren’t just lying in bed. Fix this and you can often fix your whole life. Though, if you find a way to get the perfect amount of sleep, please tell us how…
Binaural Stimulation / Meditation
If you’re unfamiliar with binaural stimulation and its effect on aligning your brainwaves, then school yourself with a quickness. Just listening to soothing noises or sitting quietly can do wonders for fixing your mental and emotional state. Don’t worry if meditation seems impossible: Just trying it – even if you think you’re doing it “wrong” – for 15 minutes each day will yield results, so long as you stick with it.
Acupuncture / Acupressure
Your body is an electrical system, and depression can be caused by wiring problems. The ancient eastern arts of acupuncture and acupressure might seem hokey and ridiculous, but if you don’t try them, you’ll never know if they work. A better life could be a pinprick away.
Studies have shown that classical music, especially when paired with mild exercise, can work as well on depression as many of the most common SSRIs, like Zoloft and Prozac. We suggest Chopin’s Nocturnes for a soothing, relaxing experience.