- Mental Health
3 DIY Depression Fighters
A Crash Course in Depression
Before offering up the five most effective remedies, we want to help you understand exactly what depression is - and what it's not. Depression is not just a bad mood, a sad feeling, or a temporary lack of energy. Everyone has the occasional bad day. Depression is most commonly defined as feelings of sadness, loss, anger, frustration, and low self-esteem which interfere with one's everyday life, and last for weeks at a time. Many people who suffer from clinical depression or major depressive disorder will go through cycles of depression for their entire lives. While medication can often alleviate the worst symptoms of depression, there is no cure, and medication does not work for everyone, nor does it work all the time. If you suffer from depression, it is highly recommended that you consult with professionals before beginning any treatment regimen.
1. Serotonin Enhancing Foods
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and is believed to greatly influence one's emotions. Many anti-depressants work by increasing serotonin levels, but there are other, more natural ways to get a similar effect. Several foods, particularly those containing good proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, will increase your serotonin levels. Among the best are:
- Wild salmon, anchovies, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
- Coconut oil and flax seed oil
- Nuts, seeds, and legumes
- Complex carbs, such as whole grain bread, brown rice, and sweet potatoes
There is a reason that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is a better understood form of depression than others. While all forms of depression are still being studied and are not fully understood, even by professionals, there are a few things that are widely known or believed about it - one being that less sunlight disturbs sleep patterns and lowers our levels of both serotonin and vitamin D, all of which can cause major changes in our emotional state. While it's not always possible (especially in colder climates) to get out in the sun everyday, it's vital to take advantage of even the tiniest sliver of sun whenever you can. And, if you live somewhere that has months of sunless days, consider investing in a light therapy box, and taking a vitamin D supplement.
Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic
I know, that word itself probably sounds terrible to the currently depressed. The last thing most of us want to do is socialize with other people and talk about our feelings of hopelessness. The internet brings with it a, if you'll pardon the pun, happy medium, however. We now have the invaluable option of finding like minds, information, resources, and communication from the comfort of our living rooms. Better still, the general anonymity of online forums tends to make people more willing to speak openly about their struggles. People who would never look you in the face and admit they are depressed will often gladly type about it at length. Talks and lectures you would not ordinarily be able to attend are a mere Google search away. Support groups that your depression would talk you out of showing up to can now be enjoyed with the simple click of a button. We now have the opportunity to join the largest, most honest and open community of fellow sufferers (or copers, as I prefer to deem us) in the world - and sometimes, just knowing you are not alone is all it takes to get you through one more day.
How have natural treatments worked for your depression?
Don't Give Up
Many people with depression will go through countless prescriptions, diets, lifestyle changes, and support groups before finding something that really makes a difference. Don't give up. While we may not have a cure for depression yet, there is some comfort to be taken in the fact that dozens of professional fields are constantly working to better understand, and better treat, depression and mental illness in general. With every experiment and every breakthrough, we get a little closer to truly understanding depression - and the more we know, the more we can do.
© 2014 Robyn J Williams