Top Natural Home Remedies for Depression
Guest Blogger: Leo Wyatt
Depression is a condition which can strike you almost literally out of the blue – and may follow an upheaval in your life, including redundancy, divorce, moving home or a bereavement. However, depression can also occur at times in your life in which you should be happy, such as having a baby, moving jobs, going to university or changing school/college/university.
Any event which alters your normal daily life can make you feel anxious and worried about a new responsibility or how your life may change.
Sometimes it is not always easy to understand why you feel depressed – feelings of hopelessness, pointlessness, low energy, and feeling inexplicably angry can suddenly hit. Panic attacks sometimes accompany depression and the symptoms of these episodes of intense anxiety can result in a thumping heart, perspiring profusely, and a feeling of being terrified, often without knowing what has brought on an attack of anxiety at that moment.
The brain is a complex organ which is home to our thoughts, memories, feelings and sleep patterns. Anything which disrupts our normal lives can undermine our confidence and result in a profound sense of shock or apprehension, which can be difficult to rationalize, meaning depression and panic attacks – a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder – can take hold.
The herb St John’s Wort was at one time thought to be the best over-the-counter treatment for mild depression, but it can cause an allergic reaction and alcohol and exposure to sunlight should be avoided when using it. Many people still swear by St John’s Wort as a home remedy for depression and some researchers claim it can be as effective as the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for mild to moderate depression.
But eating certain foods can also help balance your hormones, naturally boost levels of the “happiness chemical” serotonin in the brain, and boost brain function.
The brain needs a whole range of nutrients to remain healthy and functioning, so feed your brain to help cure your depression.
1. Avocados contain high levels of Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids and can help regulate blood pressure when you are feeling stressed.
2. Aromatherapy using scented oils or natural scented products like rose petals or lavender can boost mood. Lemon verbena or ginger can give you a natural lift – while rose or lavender can relax you and help boost sleep. Ginger tea is also good for digestion and coughs.
3. Chocolate – a few squares of 70% cocoa dark chocolate can protect arteries, boost blood supply to the brain, and help increase levels of the happiness chemical serotonin for a natural high. Dark chocolate also contains iron to boost the health of red blood cells as they carry oxygen round the body and to the brain.
4. Exercise is also a good way to keep the brain well supplied with oxygen and make new connections in the brain’s wiring – make sure you take some exercise and schedule in a daily household chore or a spot of gardening to keep you connected with daily life. The brain also needs to make new connections to stay healthy, so acquiring new skills and information can help – read, do puzzles, chat to people, write stories or poems, and do a little sports to keep your brain alert.
5. Lack of B vitamins can make you feel lethargic and low; so make sure you eat plenty of whole grains, wholemeal bread and pasta, and even yeast-based foods like Marmite to help maintain your mood balance.
6. Lack of iron can also make you feel depressed and lethargic – and red blood cells need iron to be able to carry oxygen to the brain efficiently; so take a supplement or eat liver and red meat, eggs, spinach, or drink milk.
7. Oily fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which boost the health of brain cells and improves concentration and mood – have three portions of salmon, tuna, or herring weekly.
8. Red grape skins contain the antioxidant resveratrol, which protects arteries to boost blood flow to the brain. Grape skins also release antioxidants when exposed to UV light and may help boost skin health and protect against ageing – reasons to be cheerful. A glass of red wine daily can protect arteries and boost mood.
9. Tryptophan is an amino acid which is also a natural antidepressant because it converts to serotonin in the brain. Foods containing tryptophan include avocados, bananas, turkey, cherries, and kiwifruit.
10. Vitamin C can boost your immune system – depression can mean you fall ill frequently with colds and infections because depression lowers your immune system, so make sure you get plenty of Vitamin C and also zinc.
If you are suffering from long-term depression or postnatal depression, it is important to see your GP to get the help you need – and also check that it is okay for you to try some natural remedies for depression, especially if you are taking other medication, as even herbal remedies and vitamins can cause adverse reactions in some people.
Depression Alliance (www.depressionalliance.org.uk) is an online support group which can help people with depression – and taking the first steps to handling your depression can often lift a huge weight from your shoulders
About the Author
Leo Wyatt is a freelance writer & journalist who graduated from Birmingham University. Leo has worked for several newspapers in the midlands but now spends most of his time writing articles for companies, websites and businesses on a freelance basis, primarily the brain injury experts. Leo also has a particular interest in politics, law, and health.