[F]or some of us depression can be seasonal (SAD), or associated with the weather, loss, or sad memories of major life events. For others, it may have nothing to do with anything, you just know that out-of-control, spiraling feeling is coming on and there appears to be nothing you can do to stop it.
Would you agree that in our modern society, depression seems to be occurring at epidemic proportions? Even young children, teenagers and college-aged adults are finding themselves diagnosed as clinically depressed.
In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability among nonfatal medical conditions in the United States. Some stats even show a rate of 1 in 4 Americans suffering from the disease.
What’s the answer?
I don’t think anyone’s 100% sure on anything! Although, I do know that I’ve never been one to promote pharmaceutics; on the other hand, I realize this is a sensitive issue and antidepressant drugs are generally the remedy of choice given by mainstream medical professionals upon a diagnosis of depression.
Yet, in 2002, a contributor to the Washington Post, Shankar Vedantam, wrote a piece entitled “Against Depression, a Sugar Pill Is Hard to Beat,” where he indicates that “in 52% of FDA trials, the effects of antidepressants could not be distinguished from those of placebo.”
What’s more, his research also indicated that “increased severity of depression was associated with greater change in depressive symptoms in those treated with antidepressants, with the reverse effect observed in those in the pill placebo condition.”
The bottom line is…drugs are not a long-term solution. Note: In no way am I suggesting that one stops taking prescribed medication. That’s something you need to work out with your physician.
10 Tips for Dealing with Depression Naturally:
Instead of pharaceutical drug therapy, perhaps it would be beneficial to begin looking toward natural remedies for depression.
- Prevention is key. If you know your depressive triggers, do all that you can to avoid them. Reduce anxiety, maintain a healthy diet, and participate in an exercise program, all easier said than done I know, yet they are the most effective preventative measures.
- Exercise. If you aren’t exercising on a regular basis I highly recommend it. There are so many different forms of exercise (i.e. yoga, aerobics, weight lifting, running, etc.) Begin slowly building up to at least ½ hour a day — it can be even more beneficial for treating/preventing depression if you can do it outside — this alone will help the blood start flowing to all parts of your body and you’ll begin to feel better almost instantly. The most important element to any exercise program is to find one that is the most suitable for you.
- Diet. Your diet should be high in calcium and B vitamins, cut out the refined carbs, and avoid sugar like the plague. Coincidence that the rate of refined carbohydrates and sugar in our American diet is increasing at an alarming rate and so is the rate of depression? I don’t think so. Eat local, fresh, and sustainable, and use supplements when necessary.
- Herbal supplements. Herbs contain many medicinal powers and can heal a variety of ailments. St. John’s wort is one of the most promising herbs for the treatment of depression. It has been used for centuries by people and cultures all over the world. A few of the other beneficial herbs include passionflower, lavender, lemon balm, Valerian, oat leafy tops, and nettles. Begin researching the benefits of herbs on depression and anxiety while you seek out the council of a certified herbalist, naturopath, or other holistic health care practitioner.
- Get enough sleep. Once in a depressed state, one of two things can happen…you sleep to much or you can’t sleep at all. An excellent way to ward off sleep irregularities is to create a bedtime routine and stick to it every single day. Take a soothing bath (using Epsom salts), drink an herbal tea to help naturally induce restful sleep, reduce stimulants…do whatever works into your lifestyle, but guard your sleep!
- Pay nature a visit. Prioritize your time in nature by spending at least 30 minutes a day outdoors. It is essential for us to connect with nature, especially during times of depression. Chop wood, mess around in the garden, walk the dog, take a hike, ride a bike, go canoeing, go skiing…whatever you choose to do, do it outside for at least ½ hour — longer if you can. The exposure to sunlight alone can do wonders.
- Use your hands to create something. Revive your God-given gifts — ’cause we all got ’em — and use them to make something beautiful. I have discovered that the times in which I’ve been the most depressed I have not listened to a longing deep inside of myself…you know, the one that calls me to do something outside of myself. Whether it be making your home, cooking meals for your family, working on your car, leaning to crochet, baking, writing, taking pictures, painting pictures…stop resisting, follow your heart, and do what you love.
- Do something for someone else. When depressed, our thoughts tend to turn inward. We often begin re-living our hurts and sometimes helping other people who are hurting, helps us. It’s theraputic to be able to find meaning in doing good.
- Talk it out intellectually. Depression is not the cause of hopelessness and extreme sadness — it is a symptom. If there is a specific problem you are having that is causing these feeling…hit it head on. Research solutions, meet with a therapist or counselor, set goals, and come up with a plan. Do not allow your problems to go unanswered. Hope can be found in moving, step by step toward addressing our issues.
- Call a friend. It could be that we are afraid of becoming a burden to those that love us, but we must remember we are relational beings — specially designed to live in community with others. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself and call a friend!
I hope that a few of these tips will help you just as they have helped me. Depression is not something to be ashamed over. No one’s life is made of roses! Depression is a problem like any other — it’s not a character flaw or moral deficiency — and there are natural methods that can help. In the end, you must take the time to get to know yourself and discover what works best for you. Unfortunately, there aren’t any quick and easy fixes…but there is hope!
If you have struggled with depression in the past, please feel free to share your natural remedies. Who knows…your comment could be the one to provide encouragement to someone who desperately needs to read your words today.
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DISCLAIMER: The comments made here are the opinion of the author and are by no means a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested here. Only your health care provider or personal physician can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.