It is understandable, given these past two years, but it seems like more and more people are talking to me about feeling depressed and want to know how to deal with depression naturally. So, I’ve gathered a list of supplements and lifestyle adjustments that can help.
First, know that depression is nothing to take lightly or be embarrassed about — its effects can have life-altering consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from severe depression or is having suicidal thoughts get help from a licensed professional immediately.
There Are Varying Degrees and Types of Depression
Depression can be mild, such as feeling you don’t have a lot to look forward to, or it can make you feel like you can’t get out of bed. There are varying degrees and types of low mood.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, types of depression include:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Bipolar depression
- Perinatal and postpartum depression
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Psychotic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
There are many different ways to deal with depression, from traditional pharmacology to talk therapy to natural supplements and everything in between. If you choose to deal with depression naturally below are different approaches, such as supplements, diet, exercise and meditation. All or some of these may help.
How to Deal With Depression Naturally With Supplements
Below are four supplements that may help elevate your mood, along with a few other things to try if you are feeling low.
Studies show the herb Saffron helps boost the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Low serotonin is a leading cause of depression. Many traditional antidepressants work by limiting the amount of serotonin recycled by the body, therefore, increasing the amount of circulating serotonin in the brain. A study of five randomized trials showed a significant decrease in depressive symptoms in adults with depression when using Saffron.
The fatty acid found in fish, Omega-3 has been shown in multiple studies to help improve depressive symptoms in adults and in post-partum women. Specifically, the component of fish oil known as EPA has been shown to be helpful when dealing with symptoms of depression. Researchers found that formulations containing at least 60% EPA per 1 gram of Omega-3 were most effective. Not all fish oils are formulated to have such a high ratio of EPA to DHA so make sure you are getting the correct amount if you choose to use Omega-3.
3. B – Vitamins
Studies show that B- Vitamins play an important role in mood regulation. Specifically, B-12, Folate, and B-6 are necessary for producing important mood-regulating neurotransmitters GABA and dopamine. Studies also show that deficiencies in B-12 and folate can lead to an increase in depression. Additionally supplementing B-12 has been shown in studies to reduce depressive symptoms when taken along with antidepressant prescriptions.
S-adenosyl-L_methionine is a compound naturally occurring in the body. SAM-e is essential in the production of certain mood-enhancing amino acids that help the body regulate mood. Several studies have found that patients score higher on the depression rating scale when taking SAM-e compared those who took a placebo.
How to Deal With Depression Naturally With Lifestyle Adjustments
Lifestyle changes are not a magic formula for preventing or alleviating all types of depression. There’s no doubt, however, that you can better handle the stresses of life and significantly reduce symptoms of depression by focusing on balancing work and play, good relationships, exercise, nutrition, and adequate sleep.
Psychiatrists suggest one of the best ways to elevate mood is by exercising. It releases feel-good endorphins in the brain. Studies show that 30 minutes of exercise three times per week is enough to improve depression. Regular exercise over time releases proteins in the brain that causes nerve cells to grow specifically in the hippocampus area of the brain. People with depression are known to have smaller hippocampuses than people without low mood.
Meditation can be helpful for fighting depression by helping to calm the brain. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in the brain becomes hyperactive in depressed people. Another area that is affected in people with depression is the amygdala or “fear center.” These two areas of the brain work together in people with depression with the mPFC becoming over-activated and the fear center releasing stress hormones. Research shows that meditation works to break the connection between these two areas of the brain, thus giving better control of emotions.
Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Sleeping too much or too little is a symptom of depression. Regulating sleep schedules and sleep patterns as best as possible can help with low mood. One Johns Hopkins study found both men and women who experienced interrupted sleep experienced a 31% reduction in positive mood the following day.
Everyone knows we should eat a balanced diet but this is especially true when experiencing symptoms of depression:
- Avoid excessive sugar because blood sugar swings can worsen mood swings.
- Avoid alcohol because it leads to worsened anxiety and depression.
- Eat healthy fats because they can enhance the way neurotransmitters act in the brain.
Bonus: 5 Steps to Confront Depression
These steps for professionals who are dealing with depression are adapted from the Caron Treatment Center article “5 Steps to Confront Burnout, Addiction and Depression,” originally published on Attorney at Work.
- Educate yourself on the risks.
Many people don’t understand that depression and addiction are scientifically proven diseases requiring attention and treatment; they are not moral failings, character flaws, or caused by a lack of self-discipline. Through courses, books, and articles, you can quickly become educated on the origin, symptoms and treatment of these conditions.
- Find your work-life balance, and protect it.
Most people struggle with this, but it is essential to draw boundaries between your job and the rest of your life. Pursuing personal activities, exercise, good nutrition, robust relationships, adequate sleep, relaxation and time away from the 24/7 demands you face is the best preventive measure against the impairments and stress resulting from imbalance.
- Self-monitor for warning signs.
Those in the early stages of addiction, depression, or burnout often deny the problem. Pay attention to objective changes in your behavior and routines. Ask friends for feedback. Take self-tests. Talk to a therapist. Keeping a journal of daily activities and feelings can be a great reflective tool when evaluating your quality of life and any behavioral changes. Understand that addiction creates an unreliable “private logic” and focuses on your actual negative behaviors.
- Seek professional help if you believe you have a problem.
Start by talking to a psychologist, psychiatrist, interventionist, recovery coach, addiction specialist, or someone at a treatment facility. These professionals will arrange a clinical assessment for you. That assessment will also include recommendations for treating your condition. Solutions may range from individual or group therapy to medications to residential treatment.
- Don’t let fear of professional repercussions keep you from treatment.
This is surrendering to the stigma. Getting better requires action — and if you do not proceed, you will lose everything. You may need to take a leave for treatment. You may have back-to-work issues involving your recovery that should be discussed with your employer. It may be that your profession is not for you and your long-term health. All that matters is that you become well and halt the predictable decline that will occur if you do not confront these matters sooner rather than later.
This post is not intended to substitute for medical advice or prescribed medication. Especially if you have special health needs or a special diet, consult a physician before undertaking any new diet or exercise plan.
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