Natural Remedies for Depression
Modern day life has become fast paced and highly stressful. Workload, traffic, bills, rent, your boss, social and emotional stresses, comparing your self to other people and feelings of loneliness are all factors that create stress, anxiety and depression. Depression is a common illness with over 300 million people being effected, and the World health Organisation estimates that by 2020 it will be the second leading cause of disease world wide.
What is depression?
‘Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration. Moreover, depression often comes with symptoms of anxiety. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. There are some lifestyle choices you can make.’
This is at the forefront of my mind as we are running a mental heath campaign at Manor, encouraging men to speak out about their struggles. Male suicide is very prevalent in the UK and we want to shine a light and show men that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. To find out more please click the link and don't be afraid to speak out.
Depression also effects you physically such as increasing the risk of heart disease, weight fluctuations, lower sex drive, fatigue and a weakened immune system. It can also increase the rate for cancer and Parkinson’s.
If you do experience any of the symptoms of depression then I strongly advise you seek help. There are many support groups people you can speak to and there is always help available. The expert help out there far exceeds the information in the blog, but I am going to share some things that can help with feelings of depression, anxiety, stress and overwhelm.
I prefer natural remedies to antidepressant drugs. Although antidepressants may help some people at different stages, I feel it only puts a plaster over the issue and doesn’t get to root cause. These drugs only mimmic the bodies natural hormone production and doesn’t work long term. These synthetic chemicals can harm the liver and down regulates the bodies natural receptors and hormone secretion. Some of the side effects are shocking too, anxiety, weight gain or loss isn’t uncommon. If you want to be more empowered and really get to the cause then going through natural process will be the way.
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Studies show that people with depression have a lower ratio if anti inflammatory Omega 3 to pro inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids in their diet. It’s not that pro inflammatory is ‘bad’ we need some inflammation in the body, but it’s when the ratio is out of balance that causes problems. A ratio of 2:1 or 6:3 is a generally a healthy range, but todays society sees people are around 20:1 and even up to 50:1 which leads to chronic inflammation. Factory farmed/raised animal products contain high amounts of pro inflammatory markers due to the stress the animal goes through. As do widely used and consumed oils such as vegetable oil, corn oil, soy oil, canola oil and rapeseed oil.
Using saturated fats like coconut oil, ghee and grass fed butter are a more natural alternative. Studies show that fish oil supplementation reduces suicidal tendencies which is why adding fish oil with a sufficient amount of DHA/EPA into your supplementation can help. Or eat oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel, or chia and flax seeds if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.
There is a link between low levels of Vitamin D in blood and symptoms of depression. The lower the levels of Vitamin D the higher symptoms of depression can be. Through our evolution humans were designed to synthesis the rays of sun (Vitamin D) and convert this into cholesterol which is associated with bone health and improved cardiovascular function. You know how happy you feel when you are in the sun and this is no coincidence. Try to get outside as much as you can, on lunch breaks or before and after work in the summer. During the winter months supplement with Vitamin D3
Exercise eases depression just as much as anti depressant drugs and has been shown to be even better as the effects last longer. People are less likely to relapse back into depression and there are no nasty side effects like when taking drugs. Exercise is like a medicine that releases endorphins that interact with receptors in the brain that trigger positive feelings. Controlled, regular exercise has also been shown to balance hormone production and generally make people feel happier. Not everyone likes going to the gym, but walking still releases feel good hormones. One study showed that walking fast for 35mins, 5 x a week or 60 mins 3 x a week was enough to counteract feelings of depression.
There are certain foods that can help ease depression. The one that everyone knows and loves is chocolate. But in it’s natural form of cacao. Cacao is the natural ingredient which releases a hormone called tryptophan which is the pre cursor for the feel good hormone serotonin. Cacao contains trace minerals such as magnesium which can make you feel calm and relaxed. Oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout. Nuts and seeds such as chia, flax and walnuts and raw cashews, pumpkin seeds all release tryptophan as does turkey.
Sleep pretty much cures everything. Although mental health can effect someones sleep as well. Generally someone will want to sleep more when they are depressed, and too little or too much will hamper with natural hormone sleep cycles. Poor sleep quality decreases the immune system and alters gut health which can down regulate the release of serotonin and sleep hormone melatonin. Stress is a common cause for low serotonin levels which results in sleep disturbances and sleep disorders including insomnia. Sleep deprivation has a direct link on low mood, people tend to become more edgy, irritable and annoyed when they’re tired.
Try to create a sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day which will regulate natural hormone cycles. (even on weekends) Create a bed time routine to help you fall asleep quicker, and create a peaceful environment for sleep making your room as dark, cold and quiet as possible.
There are other natural remedies for depression including Meditation, having a morning routine or spending time with friends, which will give you space from the everyday stresses of life. Even if you aren't depressed but do feel stressed or overwhelmed on a regular basis then I’m sure adding some of these strategies in your life will help.
Always talk to someone if you need to and reach out to me if you have any questions, I always like to hear from people.