Natural Anti-Depressants

A few things you can use/do if you’re in one of those low-spells of your depression, or if you’re just feeling down.

  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) –>An herb that is commonly used to lessen the intensity of the conditions that sometimes go along with depression such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping.
  • Whole wheat foods have complex carbohydrates, which can increase serotonin levels. (Serotonin is a biochemical thought to be a contributor of feelings of happiness and well-being).
  • As obvious as this seems, sleep and water are two major things that your body needs, and when it doesn’t get enough, it can affect your health (and your mental health too).laugh
  • LAUGH OFTEN. Laughing can reduce the onset of depression by fighting off stress hormones. I also use it as a tool to trick my brain into thinking I’m happy. If you can convince yourself of something long enough, your brain starts to accept it.
  • Taking a walk on a sunny day. Vitamin D has been shown to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. “Researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to improve as their levels of vitamin D in the body increased over the normal course of a year. The recommendation is to allow yourself limited, unprotected sun exposure in the early morning and late afternoon (no more than 15 minutes for light-skinned individuals, 40 minutes for darker skin). Vitamin D is also available as a dietary supplement and can be found at ProHealth.”
  • Eating something citrus-y. Citruses have high levels of vitamin C, which increase dopamine levels in your brain. Dopamine is one of your “feel-good” chemicals  Also, they have high levels of vitamin D, which has been shown to be lacking in people with depression.
  • Turn on the lights. Having everything lit up can help boost your mood, and lamps are often used to treat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  • Gardening-> Medical News Today reports that UK scientists have discovered friendly bacteria in soil that reportedly affects the brain in a way similar to antidepressants by increasing the release of serotonin.
  • Meditation.
  • Burn Incense (lavender or lilac are my favorites. Both are very relaxing).
  • Get active. Hit the gym, take a walk, ride a bike, or DANCE! Exercising releases endorphins that trigger a positive state of mind.
  • PET AN ANIMAL. This works like a charm for me. Just being in the presence of a manddog or cat instantly calms me down. Animal therapy has become a very common method of helping people with depression, cancer, anxiety, blindness, and many other illnesses. Animals help create a positive environment and can make someone extremely happy (in most cases, unless you hate animals). Animals don’t judge you or talk back to you which is why people will almost always prefer the company of an animal to that of another person.  (the picture on the right is my dog Mandy and myself.)
  • From Shannon Bindler: Use depression to make you stronger. ” Can depression actually make you healthier? A recent article from the BBC News features Dr Paul Keedwell, an expert on mood disorders at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Keedwell says that depression is not a human defect at all, but a defense mechanism that in its mild and moderate forms can force a healthy reassessment of personal circumstances. “Don’t beat yourself up about being depressed, in most cases it will run its course provided you take yourself out of the situation that caused it.” Depression can actually serve a purpose, deepening and enriching the human experience. By overcoming challenging times in our lives, we can actually become stronger evolutionarily speaking.Simply recognizing we are feeling depressed can be the first step towards changing it. We all experience difficult stages in our lives and while we recommend seeing a professional to help alleviate clinical depression, we also have found that little changes in our diet and lifestyle can go a long way. So the next time the blues get you down, you can try lighting up some frankincense, ordering a fish taco, and chowing it down in the sunshine. Hey, worth a try.”

As always, if you have anything to add, or if these worked for you, please feel free to mention that in the comments!

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