Natural antidepressants

When you go to the doctor due to depression symptoms, the first thing most of them do is reach for their prescription pad. While there are times that a medication is the appropriate choice, it should not be the first choice of the medical profession. Medications given for depression often have side effects, some severe, and they are very expensive medications. Unless you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others, there are natural antidepressants that you could try before resorting to drugs.

One of the most natural ways to help depression is to live healthier. Many of us seem to be filling our lives with too many activities and we end up depriving ourselves of proper diet and sleep. A good part of our mental health is derived from our physical health – if your body feels good and full of energy, then it is much more likely that our minds will feel the same. If you don’t feed the body properly, it is not able to maintain optimal condition and this can also affect how you feel mentally.

Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective natural antidepressants available to us. Not only does it help with maintaining stable weight and health, it actually affects us in ways that directly contributes to good mental health. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins which make you feel good and also lowers the amount of cortisol produced. Cortisol is a hormone connected with stress and produced in larger amounts when we are under stress.

Getting more exercise can have other positive effects that enhance our moods and banish depression symptoms. When we have a healthy body, our self image is usually better and therefore so are our confidence levels. Losing weight or getting in shape can go a long way in boosting self-esteem. When you exercise, you are not able to dwell on the negative things that are contributing to your depression. That will lower stress levels and help you to relax which can make you feel better instantly.

There are also herbal and nutritional supplements that have been found helpful to those suffering from depression. Omega-3 fatty acids, St. John’s Wort, Vitamin D, kava kava and ginkgo biloba have all been shown to help with relieving depression symptoms.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to have many physical health benefits but are now being discovered to also have mental health benefits. A study that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry revealed that the lower the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood, the greater the level of depression found in the patient. Fish oil supplements given for 12 weeks found the depression lessened or disappeared. You can get more omega-3 fatty acids by eating more fatty, cold water fish or taking a fish oil capsule supplement.

Vitamin D is another nutrient that has been connected to depression when you don’t have enough of the vitamin in your system. This vitamin increases serotonin production in the brain which is a mood enhancer. You can get out in the sun more to spur your body’s own manufacture of vitamin D or take a supplement in order to get more vitamin D in your system.

St. John’s Word, kava kava and ginkgo biloba are all herbs that have been shown to relieve stress and anxiety, both contributing factors to depression. These herbs are all weak MAO inhibitors which is the action of many antidepressant drugs but without the side effects that usually come with the medications.

If you or someone you care about appears to be suffering from depression, perhaps you should try some of these natural antidepressants before turning to a pill bottle.


Last updated on Nov 8th, 2009 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Natural antidepressants”

  1. Matt Clark says:

    I thought I would add another supplement that is often used to help people get off prescription antidepressants – 5-HTP. It boosts serotonin and has been successful in treating depression and anxiety.

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