Antidepressant drugs seem like an easy fix when someone is suffering from depression, anxiety or a list of other mental and emotional problems. However, those drugs can have side effects that are potentially harmful. Instead of seeking a prescription medication for your depression or anxiety, consider natural antidepressants. There are a number of safer, natural products that can have the same effect in managing depression without the dangers to your physical and mental health.
Natural Antidepressants: St. John’s Wort
One of the natural antidepressants that is most commonly used is St. John’s Wort. This is an herbal remedy that has been treating nervous conditions in people since ancient Greek civilizations. It’s actually a weed which contains powerful ingredients that are a mouthful to pronounce: hypericin, pseudohypericin and xanthones. These chemicals react with the brain to elevate the levels of serotonin that is produced. While it’s one of the most accessible natural antidepressants to find, most studies suggest it’s best for mild depression only. Like other natural antidepressants, St. John’s Wort may interfere with other medications you’re on, including birth control. Don’t take this in addition to prescribed antidepressants without consulting with your doctor first.
Natural Antidepressants: 5-HTP
A powerful ingredient among natural antidepressants is 5-HTP. It’s a chemical compound that acts to increase serotonin in the same way that tryptophan does. It influences the brain as well as your central nervous system, which means it is useful in treating depression as well as other disorders such as anxiety, insomnia and problems with sexual performance. If you are looking for natural antidepressants to replace prescribed antidepressants, this might be a good place to start. There are supplements with 5-HTP, and taking it several times a day will allow it to convert directly to serotonin.
Natural Antidepressants: Food and Drink
Many people don’t realize that what you eat and avoid eating have consequences for your mental and emotional well being. Using these natural antidepressants will help you recover from a depressive episode and prevent a new one from approaching. Natural antidepressants that you can eat include foods high in serotonin. Wild salmon, anchovies, mackerel and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are excellent for increasing your brain’s serotonin levels.
Other natural antidepressants that are edible include healthy fats such as nuts, avocado and coconut oil. You also want to munch on protein sources like turkey, which contains tryptophan. Make sure you avoid caffeine, which will reduce your serotonin. Include a few servings of foods that are high in folic acid, as well. These natural antidepressants might include spinach, beans, citrus or broccoli.
Natural Antidepressants: Vitamin D
Vitamin D acts as a powerful natural antidepressant, which is why light therapy is sometimes used to treat people who are chronically depressed. If you can expose yourself to natural sunlight, you’ll have a fighting chance against chronic or acute depression. The brain is full of receptors for vitamin D, and it affects the chemistry in your mind that governs mood. A lack of vitamin D in your blood increases the likelihood that you will become depressed. With sunlight serving as one of the most natural antidepressants available, take advantage of it when you can. If you don’t have a lot of sun where you live, invest in a therapy box that provides the light you need, or take a supplement that includes vitamin D.
Natural Antidepressants: Exercise
Endorphins play a major role in how you feel and what your brain can do to cope with some of the depression triggers that might come your way. The best way to increase your endorphins is through exercise. Even moderate physical activity can be one of the best and most positive natural antidepressants available to people. Research has even been conducted to suggest that exercise has a more lasting impact on depression than prescription medication.
The endorphins that exercise releases play a part in how your mind and body are able to perceive pain. They also increase the strength of your immune system. So, your mood has the potential to improve when you exercise because your mind is changing the way you manage your pain. Regular exercise has positive results that go way beyond your emotional state, as well. When you exercise you improve your heart health, manage your weight and protect yourself against the risk of long term disease and illness.
These natural antidepressants are an effective way to manage your depression, especially if you don’t want to take drugs that may be damaging to your health. Talk to your healthcare providers about the alternatives to prescription medication. You don’t have to find yourself addicted to prescription medication if you’d prefer to fight your depression with natural remedies. There are many to choose from, and at least one may work very well for you. It is your body; take care of it as naturally as possible.