Natural Remedies for Depression

The incidence of depression has been growing at a phenomenal rate but the positive factor here is that people no longer fell stigmatized by acknowledging that they have a problem. The awareness has set in and once this hurdle is crossed, treating depression is possible.

The effects of depression can be traumatizing and the individual suffering from it feels emotionally, physically and even spiritually assaulted. It is an illness and one that has to be treated before it becomes too late.

Depression can break a weak willed person. When we talk of remedies for depression, you would like to deal with natural remedies and the purpose of this exercise is just to do that.

Depression can be caused by many factors both genetic and biological. Individuals may have a genetic makeup that makes them prone to depression or stressful events like the loss of a close one could also be a cause. In addition it is believed that it is also caused by biological factors. We have what are called neurotransmitters in your brains, which are responsible for sense of well being that we feel. Serotonin and other chemicals like dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine largely act as an anti depressants and tranquilizers. Depletion in the levels of these neurotransmitters could lead to depression.

Anti depressants essentially enhance neuro transmission simultaneously increasing the levels of the neuro transmitters especially serotonin.. Medication coupled with natural remedies has been known to be very effective in curing depression.

St.John’s wort extract is a herb which is highly rated as a natural anti depressant. In fact in ancient Greece, this plant was used as a tonic for the nerves. The elements present in this herb help to increase the levels of the important neuro transmitters and it has been found to be very effective in countering mild depression. In fact it helps individuals to sleep more soundly and improves memory. It has proved to be very significant in countering depression which is an offset of SAD (seasonal Affective Disorder).This usually occurs during the months when there is a decrease in the amount of available sunlight(during winter). In conjunction with light therapy what it does is to increase the level of melatonin  which is produced in the body thus helping to regulate the sleep wake cycle.

Amino acid therapy is fast finding patrons. These basic building blocks of which proteins are made actually function as neurotransmitters.  Tryptophan  is one such neurotransmitter which relieves depression but the best part about tryptophan is that it is found naturally in foods that we normally eat. Whole grain cereals, vegetables, fruits and low fat dairy products are all natural sources of tryptophan. Tofu (high in tryptophan), most Soy products, sesame seeds, walnuts, peas, pumpkin seeds are some common sources of this wonder neurotransmitter. When eaten in combination with carbohydrates, the amount of tryptophan taken in is increased. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin (the feel good chemical) and this in turn to melatonin (which is required for good sleep).

Kava is another natural remedy for depression and it has been used for hundreds of years by people living in the islands of the south pacific region. It is often referred to as “ the calming plant” and brings along with a feeling of well-being and contentment. Of course overuse of this herb can cause a rash to break out. Gingko biloba  is another herb, which contributes to mental health. It is essentially an anti oxidant and is very popular to combat depression.

For a long time, depression and nutritional imbalances have gone hand in hand. A deficiency in certain vitamins or minerals could inhibit the production of the neurochemicals —the good feel chemicals. B vitamins have always been in the news and Vitamin B6 is known to have assist enzymes to convert amino acids to serotonin and norepinephrine –the good mood chemicals. So a deficiency of Vitamin B12 or folic acid can cause depression.

It has also been found that a deficiency in magnesium can lead to nonspecific low mood levels. The point to be noted here is that improvement in the levels of serotonin can be set right by eating the right natural foods which contain the above elements. This in combination with other forms of therapy can alleviate depression. In fact ingestion of Vitamin C has been known to catalyze reactions, which lead to the production of serotonin.

The traditional medicine of India -Ayurveda advocates yoga, massage and meditation, which increase “prana”or the energy of life.  A concoction of Ashwagandha and Brahmi powder steeped in water for 10 minutes and drunk twice or thrice a day is said to cure depression. Another natural remedy for depression, which is widely advocated, is drinking a “kasahayam” or tea made from the (Indian basil) tulsi and sage.  Massaging the body and head with herbal oil and then having a hot water bath does wonders for the body and mind. These have been practiced from time immemorial in India and are very popular forms of treatment. In fact there are actually parlors  which offer you this kind of massage.

Yoga exercises helps in the increase of circulation of oxygen in the system, helps the mind to relax, stretches the muscles and helps to restore the neurochemicals. Deep breathing exercises or “pranayama” help the body  and mind to relax. By focusing on calm and peaceful things, the mind tends to counter the negative energy, which is present. Listening to music, playing your favorite songs, doing the things you like– all help to nullify depression. Going out with friends, visiting, going to places you like – in short doing things that break away from the routine and mundane can help to alleviate depression.

If it is possible try and discuss your problem with a friend or a good counselor. When things are verbally expressed, the intensity of negative force is drastically reduced and they may come up with certain ideas,  which helps you to deal with depression. Writing down your actual thoughts and feelings also helps because by doing so, you are able to give vent to whatever is troubling you. This does relieve you to a great extent. Diversify your activities and work till you are tired. This gives the brain the necessary impetus to focus on anything but the problem causing depression.

Aromatherapy has gained popularity of late because of its ability to help the body to relax and revive the nervous system. Inhalation of some herbal oils like rose, jasmine, lime, and grapefruit is a natural remedy for depression. Acupuncture is said to be a great mood enhancer. Eight –10 weeks of acupuncture treatment culminates in mood elevation, which is very similar to the elevation got by the use of anti depressants. Last but not least, prayer is said to have the power to heal. Religious practices and religious beliefs could help the person to cope with depression. All these natural remedies for depression may be sufficient by themselves if depression is not very severe, but in severe cases it needs to be combined with medication.