If you have experienced depression, you know that it is like a worn-out unwanted companion that constantly clings to you, and it seems like a familiar burden. If you struggles with depression, be consoled in the fact that there are some things that you can do to feel better asides taking prescribed medication. They take time and effort (there is no quick and easy fix!), but its well worth it in the end.If you struggle with depression and are trying to wean yourself completely from the medication, know that it is a process that requires time, effort and a lot of energy so just start with tiny baby steps first. On the other hand, here are a few remedies that you can try to relieve yourself of depression for the time being.
Eat “happy” food
Eating healthy meals can help you with your mood in general, but there are some foods that can help with serotonin. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that contributes to “happy” feelings. Prozac, for example, works by inhibiting serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which raises the levels in your brain. Some foods are serotonin enhancers, helping to raise those levels naturally. Examples of those kinds of foods include:
- Fish-oil, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
- Healthy fat, such as coconut oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sour cherries
Leave the Coffee Alone
While there are many claims for the benefits of coffee, when it comes to depression, it just doesn’t mix well. It’s true that caffeine will give you a quick boost in your mood, but you’re going to come crashing down. Being exhausted but wired and over-caffeinated doesn’t do anything good for the chemicals that regulate mood, and can affect serotonin synthesis in the brain (trust me, I have been there and I know the feeling). This has been noted by the increase of 5-HIA, a component of serotonin, seen in the urine of coffee drinkers. This makes them at risk for lower levels of this all-important neurotransmitter.
Drink it Green!
I still can’t say enough wonderful things about green tea! I know this seems terribly counterintuitive to number 4, because green tea also has caffeine, but it has one other extremely important constituent which is L-theanine. L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine to boost mood in such a way that you don’t get the same crash-effect. It has its psychoactive properties because it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and has been shown to reduce stress as well as boost dopamine and the brain inhibitory transmitter.
In order to make green tea, follow these instructions:
You will need…
-1 cup of boiling water
-1 green tea bag
First thing in the morning, with your breakfast, steep a cup of hot, fresh, green tea. Drink the whole thing.
I have mentioned in a few of my other posts the importance of meditation, it’s a hard thing to do, but it really helps. We become so out of touch with ourselves and smothered by our thoughts we lose the ability to reflect and sift through our minds; an indispensable tool if you need to cope with depression, anxiety, OCD, or anything along those lines. Start small-maybe, you could probably take out 2-3 minutes a day-and then work your way up from there.
You will need…
A quiet place
Find a quiet place to retreat to where you won’t be interrupted. Turn off your phone, close the door, etc. etc. Regulate your breathing, and attempt to let go of your thoughts. Don’t think too hard about not thinking though-if something pops into your head, acknowledge it, and let it go. This is just one basic start to meditating-there’s tons of different ways you can go about it, and where you choose to take it and how far is up to you.
Although there is a lot of back and forth about acupuncture, but I say keep an open mind. There have been a number of studies that have shown acupuncture helps with pain, and may help with depression and anxiety as well. When the needle enters your skin at one of the 400 body points used by acupuncturists, your body responds by releasing endorphins. This makes you feel calm, happy, and relaxed, and many people say this feeling lasts long after the session is over.
You will need…
A licensed acupuncturist
Look up a reputable acupuncturist, pick up the phone, and set up an appointment.
Chamomile tea as a Remedy
Depression goes hand in hand with sleep problems. It’s like you can’t get out of bed during the day but can’t fall asleep at night either. It is thought that a particular flavonoid (a chemical naturally occurring in some plants) in chamomile is what contributes to its relaxing properties, and having a cup before bedtime with a bit of milk and honey does help unwind. Tuck a little lavender sleep sachet under your pillow too and you’ll have an extra relaxing boost when you curl up.
You will need…
-1 cup of boiling water
-2 teaspoons of dried chamomile or 1 teabag
-A dash of milk and honey (optional)
Boil 1 cup of water and pour over 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile (or a chamomile tea bag) and let steep for 5 minutes. If you are using a tea bag, let steep for 15. Strain, and add a little milk and honey if you like, and drink 30 minutes before you go to bed. Drink this as often as possible.
See a therapist
Although it has a negative connotation in today’s society, seeing a therapist has been something that has pulled people through many hard times. If you have depression or anxiety, don’t be ashamed to see someone, it’s hugely helpful and allows for some much-needed relief from your thoughts and emotions.
Supplement with St. John’s wort
A popular home remedy for depression comes in the form of St. John’s wort. An herbaceous plant/shrub, St. John’s wort has been used to treat various “nervous disorders” since the times of ancient Greece. It is the most effective remedy when it comes to cases of mild to moderate depression, and is thought to work chiefly because of the effect of hypercin, one of its main constituents. Hypercin appears to affect various neurotransmitters in a similar way to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (like medications such as Prozac, which raise the levels of serotonin accessible in the brain.) There are several other components of St. John’s wort that may contribute to the antidepressant effects, although hypercin is the most widely recognized. While this plant does seem to have less side-effect than prescription medications, it can still interfere with them, so double check before using it.
You will need…
-A high-quality supplement of St. John’s wort (usually capsule form)
The normal dosage for an adult is 300 milligrams 3 times daily, however because it can interact with other drugs, talk to a professional before using.
Vitamin B (namely B-12) plays an important role in the brain, producing chemicals that majorly impact mood (serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine.) If you lack this all important vitamin, you may be shorting your mind as well as your body. Older adults, those with digestive disorders, and folks who are vegetarians may find that they have a hard time getting enough of B-vitamins (it is found in many meats.) You can either take supplements or add more B vitamin rich food to your diet, such as:
-Fish (Mackerel, 3 oz. serving): 269% DV*
-Cheese (Swiss, 1 oz. serving):16% DV
-Shellfish (cooked clams, 3 oz. serving): 1401% DV
-Spinach (1 cup cooked): 22% DV
-Bell peppers (1 cup raw): 13.50% DV
We really underestimate the importance of magnesium! It is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body that is supplemented through diet, and is a co-factor in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate a range of bio-mechanical functions in the body. Without it we wouldn’t produce energy, we couldn’t synthesize DNA or RNA, or regulate our heartbeats, and we can’t keep the chemicals in our brain stable. Our modern diets often cuts off foods that have magnesium, and stress also depletes it (and who doesn’t get stressed?) Because no living organism is able to produce it, we need to eat it. So take a supplement, or follow the best route-add magnesium rich foods to your diet.
-1 ounce of dry roasted almonds or cashews: 20% DV
-1/2 cup of cooked black beans: 15% DV
-1 medium banana: 8% DV
-1/2 cup of boiled spinach: 20% DV
-1 cup of soymilk: 15% DV
Also, when it doubt of what falls under magnesium, go for the nuts and dark leafy greens.