When diagnosed with clinical depression, some people choose not to take medication. Some are worried that they will feel sedated and walk through the rest of their lives in a zombie like state; others fear the possibility of addiction. Some just simply don't want to give up their nightly glass of wine and fear that mixing it with medication could bring on problems, which it could. Whatever the reasons, they do have the choice of alternative treatment, though in many cases it might take longer to see results. Some people would like to get to the bottom of their feelings and decide to see a therapist. No matter if they are taking medication or going with alternative treatment forms, results are always better when the patient simultaneously gets therapy.
Though natural remedies such as herbs and plant extracts have been tested on subjects with depression and proved to have positive results, they are not FDA approved. The patient should investigate each product before taking it and make sure of the side effects. These are very rare and usually tolerable, but could cause serious problems if the patient has other physical conditions.
- St. Johns Wort is the most used natural treatment of depression. Upon testing on subjects with depression, positive results were noted as early as 2 weeks after starting. In fact, it was shown to be just as effective as the leading prescription drug for depression. It had best results on mild to moderate depression, but was shown not to have any effect on severe cases of depression. St. John's Wort can be harmful if it is taken in combination with other medication, so the patient should make sure he informs himself well and tells his physician about any other physical ailments that he has. Though side effects are rare, some patients report dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, diahrrea and sensitivity to light.
- Valerian Root is most commonly used to treat sleeping disorders that depressive people can experience. It has been proven that it reduces anxiety and stress and improves the quality of sleep. Some people experience digestive problems if they use it for a long period of time and some build up a resistance to its sedative quality and get the opposite result. Instead of feeling sedated, they feel stimulated.
- Kava Kava is another plant that makes a person feel relaxed and content. It causes mental alertness that wears off in a few hours and gives way to drowsiness, so it best be taken a few hours before going to bed. It should not be taken by people with liver problems or a steady drinking habit, nor by people taking other medication. Excessive use can cause dizziness and liver problems.
- 5-HTP is a natural supplement that converts into serotonin once taken. Serotonin is a brain chemical that influences sleep, mood appetite and behaviour. Before starting to take this supplement, the patient should be tested for his level of serotonin, since the cause of depression could lie elsewhere than in a lack of this chemical. Though no serious negative results of taking 5-HTP have ever been reported, it should not be taken over a longer period. Some side effects may occur, such as nausea, diahrrea, constipation and headaches.
- A lack of essential minerals and vitamins can also be behind a depression. Minerals such as zinc, magnesium and potassium ant the B-complex of vitamins can all have a mayor influence on the mood and general well-being. The patient should have a simple blood test first though to see if he is lacking any of these.