Major depression is a serious medical illness affecting 9.9 million American adults, or approximately 5 percent of the adult population in a given year. Many people suffering from depression are not aware that there are natural remedies for depression that are a safe and effective alternative to psychiatric medication. Lifestyle changes such as dietary modifications, stress reduction and exercise can also have a positive effect on depression symptoms.
Common symptoms of depression are:
o Feeling sad, blue, incapable of feeling pleasure.
o Change in appetite. Eating too much or not enough.
o Sleep disturbance, sleeping too much or too little.
o Feeling hopeless, worthless, guilty, low self esteem.
o Loss of energy, no motivation, no interest or pleasure in activities.
o Persistent physical symptoms such as aches, pains, headaches, stomach aches, and pain which no physical cause can be found can also be a form of depression.
o Thoughts of death and suicide.
Causes of Depression
Depression can be triggered by traumatic life events, poor diet, nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances, allergies, medical illness, lack of exercise, drug and alcohol use, and digestive difficulties. These triggers are known to cause or contribute to neurotransmitter imbalances and depletion.
Finding the cause of depression means addressing the biochemistry of the brain. This can require testing such as Neurotransmitter testing, blood chemistry panels, thyroid and hormone testing.
Proven Natural Depression Remedies
Targeted Amino Acid Therapy (TAAT)
Targeted Amino Acid Therapy or TAAT is designed to address neurotransmitter deficiencies or imbalances. Neurotransmitters are synthesized from various amino acid precursors. Serotonin, for example, is synthesized from 5-HTP, and oral doses of 5-HTP have been shown to significantly elevate serotonin levels.
A non-invasive neurotransmitter lab test is available to measure your neurotransmitter and hormones levels. This test will determine which neurotransmitters are too high or to low. If an imbalance is present targeted amino acid therapy can help bring them back into balance thereby reducing or eliminating symptoms such as anxiety or depression. The program uses a combination of specific amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that will increase your body's production of neurotransmitters. These formulas can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies your practitioner may prescribe. The right balance of these chemicals can set the stage for restoring your health. You brain and nervous system will once again send strong signals to the rest of your body.
5HTP 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid. It is found in high concentrations in the brain and acts as a building block for the brain to make serotonin. Under the proper stimulus the brain will turn 5-HTP into serotonin and/or melatonin. Because of this mechanism, 5-HTP is a very gentle yet powerful product to support mood. 5-HTP may work synergistically with certain nutritional supplements to support mood. This nutritive amino acid may also support a healthy sleep cycle. Serotonin is involved in mood regulation, sleep, and appetite control.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid that has been reported to safely alleviate depression in some people in doses of 1000 mg twice a day. Acetyl-L-carnitine is a form of carnitine that has shown superior absorption effects to regular L-carnitine.
L-Tryptophan is the precursor to Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which is deficient in depression. L-Tryptophan is a natural relaxant and helps alleviate insomnia by inducing normal sleep. L-Tryptophan reduces anxiety & depression; helps in the treatment of migraine headaches; helps the immune system; helps reduce the risk of artery & heart spasms.
SAM-e is involved in more than 35 biochemical reactions involving enzymatic transmethylation. Methylation is the process by which the body rids itself of compounds, synthesizes neurotransmitters, makes components of cartilage, regulates enzyme activity within the cell, and maintains the flexibility of cell membranes. Serotonin and other brain chemicals require methylation to be synthesized. SAM-e promotes healthy joint function and comfort , boosts mood and emotional well-being. The suggested dose of SAMe to treat depression ranges from 400-1600 mg a day.
St. John's Wort
Numerous scientific studies have addressed the effectiveness and safety of standardized St. John's Wort extract. There are many biologically active components in St. John's Wort, including: naphthodianthrones (hypericin and pseudohypericin), xanthones, phloroglucinols, and various flavonoids, including flavonols and proanthocyanidins. It is thought to work by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and GABA. Hypericin extract appears to inhibit serotonin uptake by postsynaptic receptors and increase synaptic dopamine concentration. Recommended dosage 300 mg three times a day.
Natural remedies for depression can provide persons suffering with depression a safe and effective alternative to taking pharmaceutical medications or enable them to reduce the dose.
If you are taking an antidepressant, don't stop taking it on your own. Supplements can be used to reduce dosages of prescription medication or provide an alternative, but this should be done under medical supervision.
Folic acid is needed to make the neurotransmitter group called the catecholamines including dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Research suggests that folic acid depletion may help contribute to depression, anxiety and panic.
Sources: Asparagus, Beets, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, Peas, fresh, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Turkey, Cabbage, Savoy, Spinach, Broccoli, Avocados
Magnesium may be beneficial for depression by helping in the formation if certain neurotransmitters and because it helps muscles to relax.
Sources : Spinach, Avocados, Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Oysters, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Quinoa, Almonds, Barley.
Niacin is needed for nerve cell function. Niacin helps the body to release energy from carbohydrates, control blood sugar, and maintain proper nervous system function.
Sources: Rice, brown, Lamb, Pomegranates, Tuna, Chicken, Turkey, Wheat
Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in the cell signaling, and compose part of the cell membrane making it fluid. It reduces inflammatory processes, and is involved in several aspects of neurotransmitter function. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been found the diet and cell membranes of depressed individuals. Sources: Salmon, Trout, Tuna.
Vitamin B6 is a cofactor vitamin required for the manufacture of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that promotes feelings of wellbeing. Vitamin B6 may also help boost the immune system during times of depression and anxiety.
Sources: Sweet potatoes, Avocados, Bananas, Mangoes, Sunflower seeds, Tuna, Chick-peas, Salmon, Pork, fresh, Potatoes, Turkey, Chicken, Bok choy, Rice, brown, and Barely.
Vitamin B12 is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. It works in concert with other B vitamins. B12 supports the nervous system and assists the body in converting food into energy.
Sources: Beef, Yogurt, Tuna, Lamb, Oysters, Trout, Crab, Clams
Have a home environment that provides natural light
Use as much natural lighting in your home as possible. Unnatural fluorescent lighting can be especially aggravating. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression caused by insufficient natural light. People who live in areas with a prolonged winter are prone to this type of depression. If you are not getting at least 15 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight consider purchasing full spectrum lighting for the rooms you spend most of your time.
Exercise can be one of the safest and most effective methods of decreasing depression. Cardiovascular exercise combined with calming exercise such as walking several times per week can be very beneficial. Try walking, swimming, bicycling, jogging, yoga, tai-chi, skiing, and tennis; even golf burns calories.
Many people cannot sleep with depression. A restful night is a key ingredient to help many deal with the daily stresses of life. If you have depression and anxiety getting a good night's sleep is very important. Avoid stimulating activities before going to bed, like reading a book, or exercising. Some dietary supplements that are helpful in establishing sleep are melatonin and kava kava. Alcohol is a depressant, and it can greatly interfere with your sleep patterns. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes before going to bed.
Stress depletes neurotransmitter levels. Mind/body breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, tai chi, self-hypnosis, massage, meditation, and biofeedback are just some of the stress reduction techniques used for depression. Listening to music, relaxation CD's, and visual imagery are also effective stress reducers. Meditation is a great tool to prevent those negative thoughts from taking over.