Feeling sad every now and again is completely normal. Especially during difficult times.
In contrast, nearly 20 million American’s suffer from some form of clinical depression, a serious disorder that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels and thinks.
The simplest and most important things that you can do for yourself is to treat yourself naturally and with forgiveness. The stigma of depression, the fear of inadequacy and the lethargy of unhappiness can often get in the way of recovery. Managing symptoms of depression requires a practical, proactive and peaceful approach.
Exercise, rest, nutrition, a supportive group of friends and family, and attitude play a big part in helping you on your journey to better health and happiness!
Luckily, there is a plethora of natural ways to wellness and happiness available immediately to you. Here are some of my favorites…
A single 200g serving of fresh salmon provides you with your entire daily requirement of omega-3 essential fats. These fats have a powerful role in improving the body’s cells ability to take up essential hormones, including those involved in mood regulation.
Just 10 walnuts each day helps to optimise cell wall composition and has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels, which will also help to improve blood flow around the body, lowering nerves and anxieties.
One of the most common causes of fatigue in women aged 24-35 years is low iron. Meat eaters need to consume red meat in small amounts 3-4 times each week to get all the iron they need for optimal energy production.
Who would argue against the belief that chocolate improves mood? ? As dark chocolate is made with a high proportion of cocoa it also contains high amounts of the antioxidant molecules the flavonoids and the phenolic phytochemicals known for their positive health benefits. Make a steamed raw hot chocolate for an extra boost!
Seaweed is one of the richest sources of iodine, the mineral that is required for optimal thyroid and metabolic function, which are in turn crucial for optimal energy and mood. I am obsessed with these Seaweed Snacks from Trader Joe’s.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fatty acids are used to help depression and other psychological problems. 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams are recommended for mood problems.
Vitamin B is essential for cell metabolism and central nervous system maintenance. B vitamins can help stabilize nerve cell membranes.
In the largest study on vitamin D and depression ever conducted, researchers examined more than 12,500 patients over 4 years. The findings: The lower the levels of the vitamin in someone’s blood, the greater their chances were of suffering from clinical depression. Vitamin D has been affective in treating seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression that occurs during the winter months.
5-HTP is used for sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and along with prescription drugs to treat seizure disorder and Parkinson’s disease. 5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.
Is your way to better rest and dealing with anxiety! Learn why it’s my favorite in this post from a few weeks ago!
Aromatherapy, essential oils or taken internally as a tea or seasoning, lavender has the capacity to relax and relieve you from anxiety!
A well-known mood enhancer, it can be taken as a tea or a tincture and has been proven to relieve sadness and melancholy. St. John’s Wort can help you sleep better too, which dramatically affects mood. St. John’s Wort is not without some side effects, but it’s safe for most people. Taking it with SAMe (see below) can improve effectiveness as it’s a synergistic herb.
As they say, stop and smell the roses. The aromatherapeutic qualities of rose oil will enhance your mood and relieve mental fatigue. Plus the aphrodisiac qualities can give you a nice boost, since much of our energy (Chi or Prana) is based in our sexual centers.
Short for S-adenosylmethionine, SAMe is not actually an herb, but a naturally occurring molecule in all living things. As a supplement, it’s been well-proven to lift the mood and even create mildly euphoric feelings. It’s also used as a treatment for arthritis. SAMe has no side effects, even at high doses, and has a large clinical body of evidence supporting its use as a depression treatment. It’s actually been used as a “natural Prozac” for decades around the world, but it’s just now catching on in America. (You can boost SAMe naturally, as well, by consuming protein-rich foods. Take care to also get plenty of B vitamins, because without them SAMe can convert to homocysteine, which is toxic and linked to both heart disease and depression.)
Insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) and hypersomnia have all been linked to depression. In fact, one of the common signs of depression is insomnia or an inability to sleep.
Physical or emotional trauma and metabolic or other medical problems can trigger sleep disturbances. Poor sleep can lead to fatigue. With fatigue, you exercise less and that leads to a decline in your fitness level. Eventually, you find yourself in a vicious cycle of inactivity and disturbed sleep, which causes both physical and mood-related symptoms. Getting a good night’s sleep is optimal for perfect brain and mood function. Normal sleep is a restorative state. However, when sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can lead to increased tension, vigilance, and irritability.
When you have anxiety or depression, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.
Hiking is my personal drug. It gets me up, out, active, thinking, clear headed and it helps my health on top of all of that! Exercise releases feel good brain chemicals, such as endorphins, SSRI’s, neurotransmitters. It reduces chemicals that can be causing your depression, and increases your body temperature, which has calming affects on the body. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms!
Remember, improving your mood requires more than consuming pills or herbs; you may need to make some general lifestyle changes as well.
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