We all feel a little blue now and again. But, when that feeling of sadness spirals into hopelessness and despair, it can feel impossible to even drag yourself out of bed in the morning. The statistics are staggering: over 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide!
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What is Depression?
Depression entails more than just sadness. It involves feelings of emptiness and hopelessness that lasts for weeks. Those with depression experience physical symptoms, like insomnia, weight gain, difficulty concentrating and extreme fatigue .
There is no single cause of depression: brain chemistry, hormones, genetics and gut health all play a role. A new link is emerging between what we eat and the development of depressive symptoms. Our modern lifestyle exposes us to thousands of chemicals, all of which we happily devour inside highly processed foods. This way of living destroys a healthy gut, setting the stage for chronic inflammation, the root cause of almost every single disease.
When we consume highly processed foods and refined carbohydrates, our gut views these foods as foreign invaders. They cause an imbalance in the gut, allowing for undigested proteins and bad bacteria to trigger widespread inflammation throughout the body. These foods leave you starving for nutrients and at risk for chronic illness, like depression, anxiety, food sensitivities, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
There is no denying it: antidepressants save lives. Without the availability of antidepressant medications, treating those with severe depression and suicidal ideation wouldn’t be safe. But, time and time again, research shows us that healing the gut and reducing chronic inflammation decreases depressive symptoms .
So, what can you do? Here are a few home remedies useful in driving out depression.
Fish oil is a supplement extracted from fatty fish, like sardines, salmon and mackerel. It is full of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Thees fatty acids aren’t just good for the heart – they may help relieve symptoms of depression as well. Omega-3s are essential for the body to function properly. They support cognitive function and have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. According to the National Institutes of Health, most people can take up to 3 gram s of omega-3 fish oil each day without side effects. Be sure to chat with your doctor before supplementing as fish oil can interact negatively with other medications, like birth control pills and high blood pressure medication.
St. John’s Wort
This shrubby herb grows wild throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and western America. Both the leaves and the bright yellow flowers are used to treat an array of mental health disorders. This herb is a potent anti-inflammatory agent with both antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is the most popular alternative antidepressant medication in Europe. Those with depression should take between 900 and 1,800 milligrams each day to reduce depressive symptoms. If this home remedy is something you’d like to try, talk with your doctor. St. John’s wort interacts with cough suppressants, birth control pills and blood thinners, potentially making them less effective.
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This rare spice arrives from the Crocus satvius flower, native to the Italian island of Sardinia. Saffron has long been used as a home remedy for menstruation and muscle relaxation. A 2013 study in the Journal of Integrative Medicine found that adding saffron supplements improves mood and reduces symptoms related to major depressive disorder . To help relieve depression, 30 milligrams per day should do the trick. And, be prepared to dish out the cash. Saffron tends to be expensive as many flowers are necessary to make a small amount of spice.
B vitamins are vital for healthy neurotransmitter function in the brain. Vitamin B12 supports the neurologic system, boosting energy levels and acting as a mood stabilizer. Vitamin B9, also known as folate, supports nutrient absorption, fighting fatigue and reducing irritability. B vitamins also support the body’s natural production of serotonin, relieving depressive symptoms and balancing emotion. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products, like fish, eggs, poultry, red meat and dairy. Folate can be found in many whole grains, beets, citrus fruits and leafy greens. Healthy adults should aim for 2.4 micrograms of B12 and 400 micrograms of folate per day. If pregnant or breastfeeding, women should up their folate intake (without exceeding 1,000 micrograms each day).
Lavender oil has long been known for its calming and antidepressant effects. It helps to stabilize mood and improve sleep disturbances. One study in 2012 demonstrated a significant reduction in postpartum depression while using lavender aromatherapy post-birth. Another study showed that lavender oil, when used daily, helped decrease depression by nearly 33% in people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Lavender oil can be taken as a capsule or used for aromatherapy.
Chamomile is an amazing medical herb with a variety of health benefits. It relieves anxiety and works as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Although the mode of action to treat depression is unknown, one study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine demonstrated decreased anxiety and depression when participants were given daily chamomile capsules. Chamomile tea is easy to find, or you can use chamomile oil for aromatherapy.