How to Treat* and Prevent Depression Naturally?

Treat and Prevent Depression Naturally
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

If you ever had a depressive episode in your life, you probably know that you are at a higher risk of recurring episodes. And because depression can be debilitating, it is important to start treatment as soon as you notice the start of symptoms. One way you can stop* depression before it takes over your life is with the help of natural treatments. Natural remedies come in the form of dietary and lifestyle changes. More and more studies are speaking in favor of both treating and preventing depression with treatments other than antidepressants. In case you wanted to know more about the natural remedies for depression, continue reading.

What is Depression and how is it Treated?

Depression is most often defined as mood disorder whose major symptoms are a persistently low mood and feelings of inadequacy. Other symptoms of depression are apathy, social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, poor eating habits, recklessness, and aggression among others. These symptoms are often a result if chemical imbalances occurring during a depressive episode. Depression can be a result of many things but is most often triggered by stress. Whether or not a person will develop depression as a result of stressful events such as divorce, loss of a job or death of a family member depends on many factors from genetics to social support*. But even though depression involves so many social, psychological, and biological factors, the treatment for depression is limited to antidepressants and psychotherapy. The problem with these treatments is that they may not work for some.

Food for Depression

Food for depression

Some of the symptoms of depression are frequently a result of chemical imbalances in the brain that mainly involve the neurotransmitter serotonin. This imbalance can be brought on by excessive stress causing a disruption in normal functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) as explained in an article published in the World Psychiatry journal. One way you can prevent a depressive episode is through a nutritiously rich diet that will support* the healthy functioning of your brain and HPA and thus improve* your resiliency to stress. Studies show that countries with a high rate of mental disorders show that their general population is deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. The vitamins of the B group, particularly folic acid and B12 are often observed to be low in depression sufferers. Studies show that supplements containing these vitamins helped improve* the symptoms of major mood disorders. The essential amino-acid tryptophan is also extensively studied in its ability to treat* depression. This is mainly because tryptophan is a precursor for the synthesis of serotonin and a higher intake of this amino acid may naturally boost* serotonin levels acting as a natural antidepressant.

Physical Activity

Physical activity

One of the early symptoms of depression is a decline in overall activity levels. Furthermore, declining physical activity may in itself trigger a depressive episode. A systematic review of the studies examining the role of physical activity in preventing depression concluded that maintaining adequate levels of physical activity is highly effective in preventing and treating depression. Exercising is known to increase* overall feelings of well-being and bring a sense of purpose in life. Exercising also stimulates the release of the feel-good hormone endorphin and a reduction* of the stress hormone cortisol. Exercise may also promote the growth of the hippocampus which is reduced* in the depressed. In those who are depressed, slowly introducing exercising may help them find relief* from their symptoms which may be hard at first due to lower energy levels and lack of motivation that happens in depression.

Read Also: What Exercise Contributes to Mental Health?

Self-help Treatments

Self-help treatments

Self-help treatments in the form of traditional practices such as yoga and meditation are found to prevent anxiety, depression, and to increase* overall feelings of well-being. These ancient practices are gaining in popularity due to their stress-relieving and health supporting benefits. But they may also be a great way to reduce* depressive symptoms and to prevent future episodes as explained in a review of mindfulness meditation published in Psychology Research and Behavior Management. Both practices help depression sufferers find relief* from stress and gain better* control* over their stress response. Practicing mindfulness techniques are also known to bring visible changes to brain functioning and structure and to help depression sufferers gain control* over their thought processes. This is because meditation trains the mind to focus on the present moment rather than to ruminate over past experiences or obsess over future outcomes which is a major feature of depressive thinking.

Conclusion

Because antidepressants may not be the best long-term treatment for depression, more and more people are turning to natural treatments for the prevention of depression. Depression is a complex mood disorder affecting a person’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. One way you can prevent future episodes is with dietary and lifestyle changes. Increasing* the intake of key nutrients, maintaining adequate levels of physical activity, and practicing self-help techniques may prove to be a safe and effective way to avoid depression in the long run.

References

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4533896/
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671130
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23306210
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24139780
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3516810/

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.