Depression is not just a bad case of the blues that you can shake off by listening to happy music and playing with a puppy. It can be triggered by life circumstances, exacerbated by genes, and can be a mild episode that resolves itself (experienced by nearly 2 in 10 people in the world) or a painful, lifelong battle.
In many cases doctors will prescribe a combination of drugs and therapy. But these can be complemented by natural methods, which may not erase the depression but at least strengthen the body and equip one with tools to cope with—and possibly conquer—the condition. Read on for natural ways to fight depression.
Load up on omega 3 fatty acids
Some nutrients, like omega 3 fatty acids, can help increase your body’s levels of serotonin (your happy hormone). In fact, one research shows that people who were suffering from depression had low levels of these nutrients.
You can get omega 3 fatty acids from oily fish (like herring, salmon, and sardines). You can also take a DHA or EPA supplement.
Some experts also recommend taking herbal supplements like rhodiola rosea (which can increase your energy levels) and St John’s wort. Do not take herbal supplements without consulting a doctor, though—especially if you are taking other medication. The substances can interact, and may not be compatible with your unique medical history.
Get moving and grooving
Exercise can help you cope with depression because it releases serotonin levels and can help you manage your stress. In fact, the link between exercise and mood has been proven many times in independent studies.
Any form of exercise is good, but you don’t want to feel like you’re dragging yourself to the gym. Try to keep it fun. Choose an exercise regimen that fits your personality and interests. Sign up with a friend, or make friends in the people in the exercise class, so it turns into a social activity too. (Too busy to exercise? Try our life tips on how to make fitness part of your life.)
Get some light and fresh air
Your hormones are affected by your body clock. That’s why people are more likely to experience depression in the winter season, when the dark and gloomy weather confuse the body’s experience of day and night.
So, one easy way to boost your mood is to spend at least half an hour in the bright morning light, or if the weather or your schedule doesn’t permit that, to sign up for some form of bright light therapy.
A study done by UCLA and Harvard showed that people who had regular yoga sessions experienced less intense symptoms of depression. Another study monitoring chemical activity during yoga revealed that the exercises and meditation increased the neurotransmitters that lower anxiety. (Read our article on the different kinds of yoga to find the routine that you will most enjoy.)
Photo from azchiropracticandrehab.com