Best Natural Treatments: Depression

Depression is a huge medical problem globally. It is estimated that 350 million people suffer from some form of depression today (Blackburn, 2019). There are eight different types of depression: Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), persistent depressive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), substance/medication-induced depressive disorder, depressive disorder due to another medical condition, other specified depressive disorder and unspecified depressive disorder. Gosh! 

Let’s talk about the best natural treatment for depression. It’s really using natural supplements as a treatment.

There are many antidepressant medications on the market, many developed based on the theories from 50 years ago. Thomas Blackburn (2019), a neuropsychopharmacologist, wrote an article in the National Institutes of Health, US National Library of Medicine explaining that there have only been a few new antidepressant drugs developed or approved in the last 20 years. 

Further, he goes on to discuss how there hasn’t been much success with them either. Studies have shown less than 50% of drugs tested showed improvement over placebo.

Blackburn also says that the medical and mental health fields need to look at the person holistically, not looking at only one factor in mental health (and depression). Most of the medications available for depression are attacking only one factor that was theorized 50 years ago.

Well, I want to share with you new research and some pretty interesting angles with respect to depression. It seems that inflammation is linked to depression (Wei, 2017). It actually can change our chemistry and send a person into depression. 

Additionally, the gut-brain connection might indicate another way to combat depression and overall health. Let’s talk about the ways that can improve brain chemistry, with or without taking an antidepressant, and the best natural treatments for depression

Of course, anyone having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming oneself or others should seek immediate medical attention.

man pulling cloud curtain

 

Inflammation – Linked to Depression

Inflammation causes the body to rev up the immune system. This is the body’s response when it’s under attack by colds or flu viruses, digestive disorders, and stress. The brain’s response is to protect itself. Over the long term though, it’s self-destructive. It can start creating amyloid plaques which, if out of control, start causing neuronal cell death and lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s. But it also gets the brain chemistry out of whack

Researchers have found that a large percentage of people diagnosed with depression, also have inflammatory biomarkers. They aren’t sure which came first, the inflammation or the depression, but people who took prescription anti-inflammatory drugs or natural anti-inflammatory supplements found improvement in their symptoms.

It is important to note, magnesium is a key nutrient that most people are low on. Depression is one of the symptoms of low magnesium. This is one of the best natural treatments for depression.

Links to articles about natural anti-inflammatory supplements, also shown to help depression:

Magnesium   

Vitamin D   

Choline 

DHA/EPA Omega 3’s  

Turmeric/Curcumin 

Alpha-Lipoic Acid   √

Ashwagandha 

  = Can be taken while on antidepressant      = Check with your doctor if on an antidepressant

The Gut-Brain Axis and Depression

We learned in the article, What is the Gut and Brain Connection? that there is a definite connection between the gut and the brain, through the vagus nerve. Our gut even produces a neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is mentioned in numerous articles and studies on depression so it is a significant factor in depression.

In an article in Current Neuropharmacology, authors Vlainic et al. discuss adding probiotics to an antidepressant regimen for increasing the success of an antidepressant. Well, everyone could benefit from taking probiotics and even adding prebiotics (the food for the probiotic bacteria).

They say that dysfunction in the gut can affect mood (we know that right?) but also body and brain chemistry. Since the brain and gut ‘talk’, signals of inflammation in the gut make it to the brain. Inflammation in the brain signals the gut as well and causes anxiety and stress.

You might be surprised at how much better you feel after a few weeks on a probiotic.

Panax Ginseng: Natural Remedy for Depression?

Panax ginseng is an ancient traditional Chinese medicine herb with multiple properties and benefits. It increases energy! And it’s also an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor and neuroprotectant. Many people with depression have lower levels of monoamine transmitters like the ‘happy’ hormone, serotonin. Panax ginseng is shown to increase this happiness hormone in the brain, causing more feelings of well-being.

Read the full article: Top 5 Health Benefits of Panax Ginseng

Panax ginseng helps prevent cell death in the brain (apoptosis) and inflammation. Jin et al. (2019) discovered this could be an antidepressant of the future. Read the full article for more on Panax ginseng.

Best Natural Treatments: Depression 1Best Natural Treatments: Depression 2

SAM-e for Depression

SAMe is a molecule that is naturally formed in the body. It is also available as a supplement or even IV. 

Scientific name:  S-Adenosylmethionine

No wonder we call it SAMe. SAMe is a good option for those who cannot take antidepressants or don’t tolerate them well. It also avoids some of the side effects of antidepressants, like sexual dysfunction. Studies have shown it is effective in treating depression, either alone or with an antidepressant. Antidepressants are much more effective when SAMe is added to the treatment. DO check with your doctor before using SAMe with an antidepressant. It’s important to note it can cause mania for people with bipolar disorder.

And it’s also used for people with Alzheimer’s for memory and increased brain function. Full article Here.

 

Related Article: Benefits of SAM-e: The Supplement

Foods and Nutrition for Depression

One of the best things you can do is eat healthily. One of the diets in the article The Best Diet for Your Brain is the low carb diet. The bottom line is to cut out fried foods, cut down on carbs and eat lots of vegetables. Adding in the Omega-3’s mentioned above, Brain Octane Oil or MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) like coconut oil will improve your health and reduce more inflammation. 🙂

coping strategies torn paper image

Coping Strategies for Depression

Sleep:

I know it’s sometimes tough to either get to sleep or stay asleep with depression. Taking a magnesium supplement along with either Melatonin or Bacopa Monnieri (check with your doctor about Bacopa if taking an antidepressant) will help you get to sleep a lot easier. And you’re more likely to get a good night’s rest. Read the article: Sleep – Tips to Help You Get to Sleep

Use a Positivity Planner:

Using a planner/diary that includes daily, weekly and monthly goals will help you get more done and that helps you feel better. I like Panda Planner. They include sections for review of the previous day, What I’m Grateful For, I’m Excited About…, Affirmation, Focus for the day, Today’s Wins, How I’ll Improve, in addition to the normal things you expect in a planner. I love it!

Exercise:

Even if it’s just walking! Exercise helps get your blood moving and will improve your mood. Here is a short article on exercise and the brain with some great ideas for including exercise in your routine.

Mindfulness:

I highly recommend getting mindful. 🙂 You can get into meditation or even just follow my simple mindfulness guide in The Mindful Habit. It is proven to help depression.

 

adorable dog

 

Spend Time With Others: 

Spend time with others who you feel safe with and cared about. Or with a pet. If you don’t have a dog, spend time with a friend who has one or volunteer to walk a neighbor’s dog. Your friends and family (and pets) need you too.

 


Best Natural Treatments: Depression Final Thoughts

I hope you found this article helpful. It’s not easy to live with depression but there are ways to come out of the fog. It’s possible to improve your life and improve your feeling of well-being. 

If you know people who could benefit from this article , share it on your social media or you can email a link to this article to them with the buttons above! Please leave any questions, comments or your experiences in the Comments section below. 

I hope you have a very Wellbrain day!

 

References:

Blackburn T. P. (2019). Depressive disorders: Treatment failures and poor prognosis over the last 50 years. Pharmacology research & perspectives7(3), e00472. doi:10.1002/prp2.472 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6498411/

Jin, Y, Cui, R, Zhao, L, Fan, J, Li, B. Mechanisms of Panax ginseng action as an antidepressant. Cell Prolif. 2019; 00:e12696. https://doi.org/10.1111/cpr.12696

Vlainić, J. V., Šuran, J., Vlainić, T., & Vukorep, A. L. (2016). Probiotics as an Adjuvant Therapy in Major Depressive Disorder. Current neuropharmacology14(8), 952–958. doi:10.2174/1570159X14666160526120928

Wei, M. (2017). New Research Shows Depression Linked with Inflammation. Psychology Today online. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201701/new-research-shows-depression-linked-inflammationmanyCoping**√

9 thoughts on “Best Natural Treatments: Depression”

  1. Thank you for a fascinating read. It’s amazing how inflammation appears in all sorts of health problems, for example cancer. The gut/brain relationship is very interesting – I’m into green smoothies and make sure my teens have regular green smoothies – do you have one you can recommend to help with moods/depression. I’m also interested in your comments about low carb diets – I follow the Forks Over Knives eating plan which is whole food plant based. It’s not low carb but it is low/no fat. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are all OK. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks again for your insightful article.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much. The smoothies sound amazing. I think you are doing smoothies perfectly. The low carb diet actually adds good fats, which are great for the brain since it’s composed of mostly lipids (fat). Believe it or not, adding medium-chain triglycerides and omega 3’s, your good cholesterol will increase and your bad cholesterol will decrease. You can view more about the diet here: 

      https://mywellbrain.com/the-best-diet-for-your-brain/

      I was on a low/no fat diet for a few years but I just couldn’t get the cholesterol under control. My triglycerides (the bad ones) are now Half of what they were for the past 5 years after being on the low carb diet. I really appreciate your time in writing such a great review of this article. 

      Reply
  2. Thank you for writing this article on natural treatments for depression. I myself have suffered with depression and social anxiety for more than a decade. I take about 9 pills a day for it. I think I’m going to give some of these natural treatments a try, got nothing to lose right? What would you suggest I try first? I don’t want to just go into it blind and buy everything there is haha. Thanks.

    Reply
    • I would start with Magnesium since it has a lot of health benefits and it helps you get to sleep if you take it at night. 🙂 Add Vitamin D when you can. Then I’d go with Turmeric/Curcumin. Thanks for reaching out.

      Reply
  3. It is very true that depression is not an easy thing to live with and this is why i really cherish your post especially since you have shared ways by which one can deal with the problems there. In the post, you have also gone all the way to speak about an ancient way for one to help the issue in that ginseng. Very good post here worth sharing. I will do just that.

    Reply
  4. Travis. I’m glad to hear you found something that works for you. Take the inflammation seriously too. It couldn’t hurt to take a few nutritional supplements of things that most people are lacking. I will check out the Holy Basil. It looks interesting. 🙂 Thank you for responding.

    Reply
  5. Dealing with depression has become a very lucrative business for many people who are into the health niche. Many companies come up with different medicines to help with the issue but i think the natural ways to deal with it is the most effective and one really needs to go for what works and obviously, the natural ways are very effective. I like your post a lot. Thank you for sharing it because i will also share it as well. Cheers

    Reply
    • Thank you, John. There are a few areas in nutrition that most people are deficient in and it really does affect us more than we think, sometimes. I’m glad you found this and could help spread the word. 🙂

      Reply

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