It is not unusual for a person to look for all the possible treatments once a final diagnosis is obtained. Is there anything more than what you re offering me? Can I be cured of all of these? Are there much less expensive treatments available? What alternative treatments can you suggest?
There are several natural treatments for depression. From the food, we eat to the activities we do. It’s kind of surprising that we neglect to acknowledge these simple things around us that can actually help us in our battle with depressive moods.
This article will try to elaborate more on the natural ways to combat depression.
Know What is Depression
Depression is the most common mental health problem that besets Americans. Diagnosis is obtained if the person meets the standard criteria of the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Ed.). This would include having one of the clinical manifestations of depression over two weeks period or more, as stated below:
- Depressed mood
- Anhedonia (diminished loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities)
- Significant weight or appetite disturbance
- Sleep disturbance
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation (a speeding or slowing of muscle movement)
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness (low self-esteem)
- Diminished ability to think, concentrate and make decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
- Longstanding interpersonal rejection ideation (ie. others would be better off without me); specific suicide plan; suicide attempt
Foods That Can Help Depression
Alright, first I want you to reflect on the foods that you eat. Grab your paper and pencil and list down the foods that you usually eat using this method:
• Foods that you eat when you are happy
• Foods that you eat when you are sad
• Foods that are already part of your daily routine
• Foods that you crave and want to eat
• Foods that you usually eat when you are too busy
• Foods that you usually eat when in a party or special occasion
Why am I asking you this? It has been shown that the type of foods that we eat are connected to the things that we do. When we are happy for example, we tend to be “free” in the selection of our food items and just go with anything else that is on the table. When sad or depressed, women eat more of the sweets, chocolates, and junk foods while men chose to drown themselves in alcohol (well some women also drink alcohol when depressed). Therefore the purpose of this list is to check if you have more foods that can cause depression (which you just don’t know) and what foods are you missing that can help or curb depression.
After you are finished with your list, examine if you have lean proteins, more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish. If yes, congratulations! You are just as energetic and less prone to develop depression. But if you don’t have these food items in your list, it’s high time that you change your diet and stock up on these foods.
Here are examples of these:
- Turkey and milk – they contain an essential amino acid called tryptophan that can induce calmness and reboots your system to have a “good mood” feel. Other sources of tryptophan are nuts, seeds, tofu, cheese, red meat, chicken, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs.
- Omega-3 rich foods – they make our brain happy by increasing the levels of noradrenaline and serotonin. Omega-3 is an essential fat (or good fat) that prevents brain inflammation thus allowing the brain cells to produce more happy hormones. Examples of omega-3 rich foods are salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, cod liver oil, walnuts, canola oil, flaxseed, wild rice, soybeans, and egg yolks.
- Complex carbs – no, they are not that problematic. Foods like brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, and whole grains are examples of complex carbohydrates that release serotonin, thus making us feel better than ever.
- Anti-oxidant rich foods – anti-oxidants are important to our body because it prevents oxidative stress that can result in cell starvation and eventually cell death. By taking more foods rich in antioxidants, we are preventing the development of depression which can result from brain inflammation secondary to oxidative stress. Green tea is highly recommended in this option as it contains theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and anti-stress.
- Dark chocolate– okay, we are not depriving you of chocolates. In fact, dark chocolate is found to release serotonin and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system. This is the healthy chocolate that you are allowed to eat. However, it is recommended to take only a small portion as they are about 150 calories per ounce.
Things To Do
So now you have the essential foods to eat to help regulate your mood. Let’s talk about the natural ways to stop the pangs of depression that is eating your day and can leave you worthless.
Be in a good and happy company. I have a friend who is naturally born gregarious and her presence is so infectious that I also get to try and be involved in her activities. What I’m trying to say here is that mood is highly contagious. If you have friends who have a pessimistic outlook on life, maybe you need to spend less time with them or try to divert their attention to becoming more optimistic.
Try a new hobby or activity that will allow you to focus your attention on it. There’s always a chance to do something new. Enroll in art painting classes, yoga training or even start gardening at home. Find your passion and cultivate it. You’ll never know what you have that hidden talent waiting to be discovered. The reason behind this proposition is for the mind and body to find focus on other things, rather than be depressed and sulk for the rest of the day. When your brain and body are working, there is no time for sad thoughts to linger.
Get some sun. Raise those curtains in your room that prevent the rays of the sun from coming in, or better yet, go out and bask in the warm day. Adding a little sunshine to your life literally can relieve anxiety and reduce depression. Just like Superman, the heat from the sun can make us more energized and hyperactive in facing our daily activities.
I hope these natural strategies can help you with your depression. Let us know the outcome or if you have other methods that have helped you, we welcome your comments and suggestions.