Angela Kerchner MD, ABFM, ABIHM

Family, Integrative & Holistic Medicine Resources for the Whole Family   

7 Natural Therapies for Depression.


Dealing with the blues can be difficult and can happen to anyone at any time of year, but can be especially difficult during the winter months. Cold weather can mean that we are not taking part in natural mood-boosting activities that often take place outside. However, that does not mean we are stuck until spring arrives.

 

I often explain to patients that suffering from depression and anxiety is not something for which one should feel ashamed. Moods change based on chemical changes within our bodies, just like other diseases. It isn’t a sign of weakness, rather a sign of imbalance, which is the same thing that occurs when someone suffers from high blood pressure. Shame and guilt are the last thing someone suffering from depression needs, so if you are feeling down, please stop placing blame on yourself. 

 

There are many ways to restore the natural balance in our body chemistry and improve mood. The challenge lies in that these imbalances that lead to mental health symptoms can prove more difficult to overcome when we feel crummy. 

 

Medications are often used to help get out of the deepest places of suffering from depression or anxiety. Some may need these life long, but more often medications are temporary. There are many who prefer to avoid medications and some may feel more comfortable taking herbal remedies for mood, which can be safe and effective when used under the guidance of a professional. Whether you take prescription medication or herbal remedies, I recommend you talk to your integrative medicine physician to make sure you are on an appropriate therapy, understand side effects, and have someone there to help you with changes as your mood improves.

 

Exercise to boost your mood

 

Exercising literally pumps you up because it releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins that interacts with your brain receptors and diminish the perception of pain. Much like morphine, endorphins suppress pain by triggering a feeling of happiness and a positive outlook. Unlike morphine though, endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals that do not lead to dependence or addiction. 

 

Scientific evidence points that doing a 30-minute routine of moderate aerobic exercise at least three times a week is effective in alleviating symptoms of depression. Those who maintain their exercise routine even after being treated of their depression are also less likely to return to a depressed state. 

 

Eat Real Food

 

Depression tends to disrupt normal eating habits, pushing those who suffer the symptoms of depression to either overeat or starve themselves. Taking control of your eating habits does not only keep your body nourished, it also restores a certain sense of control over your life, which also in part relieves your state of depression. 

 

Some studies show that eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids found in wild fatty fish, free range eggs and grass-fed meats, as well as those that are rich in folic acid such as avocado and spinach helps relieve depression by restoring chemical balance in the brain and nervous system. 

 

Meditate To Relax

 

Much of the anxiety, stress and symptoms of depression that we experience can be relieved by giving ourselves some time to relax and clear our mind. Meditation enables deep relaxation by clearing the mind of distracting thoughts and focusing on proper and deep breathing. It provides us a means to have an altered state of consciousness. 

 

Meditating on a daily basis is a good anti-depression practice because it trains us to let go of our thoughts, focus our attention on the here and now and cultivate an attitude of acceptance and openness, which could also help relieve depression and the negative feelings associated with it. 

 

Try Yoga

 

Although most yoga techniques also involve meditation, yoga promotes an added incentive of exercising the body to improve balance, strength and flexibility while also practicing proper breathing techniques to help clear the mind and focus. 

 

As a whole, yoga works to align the spine, invigorates the nervous system, improves blood circulation, promotes mental clarity, reduce stress and anxiety and promotes relaxation and emotional wellbeing. It provides a potent way of alleviating symptoms of depression. 

 

Get Enough Sleep

 

Being in a state of depression can lead to an altered sleeping habit and make getting enough sleep feel like a tiring battle. Unfortunately, being sleep deprived can heighten your depression and make matters worse. 

 

While it might prove difficult to sleep well, try hard to make certain changes in your sleeping habit to ensure that you get enough shut-eye when you need it most. 

 

Try going to bed and getting up at a specific time every day to encourage your biological clock to cooperate. Avoid all caffeine after 12:00 p.m., and avoid eating 2 hours prior to bedtime.

 

Remove all distractions from sleeping such as TV, computer or even your mobile phone. Whenever you can, try to also take a short nap or rest your eyes during the day to relax and feel rejuvenated. 

 

Take Anti-Depression Herbal Supplements

 

Supplement your diet and boost your mood by turning to natural supplements such as having a relaxing drink of chamomile tea or St. John’s Wort. Both herbs are proven to relieve depression and anxiety. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you are also taking prescription medication for depression. 

 

Get A Massage

 

We know all too well that touch therapy promotes relaxation and uplifts our mind and spirit. Specific massage modalities such as Swedish, Shiatsu and Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi promote relaxation and healing. The use of aromatic oils and music that promotes relaxation during massage provides a holistic experience to deal with the blues. 

 

Know the Warning Signs

 

No matter what, if you have thoughts of suicide, desire to harm yourself or others, or even just feel like life might be better without you involved, please seek medical attention immediately. These are signs of severe depression and there are many people out there hoping to help you. Ask a trusted loved one to stay with you until you see a doctor, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or go to the emergency room if you have any of these symptoms. 

 

Life Will Get Better

 

These natural healing remedies for depression work well to complement whatever medication or psychotherapy session you may be undertaking to help you improve your mood, promote emotional healing and come out feeling like you again. 


Angela Kerchner M.D.

Next Chapter: Your Health


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