Until they can recognize that they are feeling depressed, they’ll sink in gloom. This is the first “easy” step. While antidepressant drugs are the choice for the clinically depressed, others may seek natural alternatives to give the mind a gentle “twist and boost” without the bag of side effects of drugs.
A Fiery Alert!
Can stress cause depression? It could. When the stress hormones decide to stay and refuse to budge, you either deal with them, or they will! This does not end here.
Prolonged stay of stress hormones in the blood stream can indirectly cause healthy body tissues to burn out from silent inflammation!
Natural alternatives here include natural antidepressant foods, natural antidepressant supplements, and other drugless mind/body techniques―some of which costs … zilch!
Let’s waste no more time. Here are my “Top #10 Natural Antidepressants” to help you beat the blue, and bring a ray of sunshine into your life.
The Silent Mind
Meditation, in particular mindfulness meditation can be very helpful for depression. It is not only a natural antidepressant, but also an all-in-one immune booster, stress manager, and brain builder―and more!
Even scientists today are beginning to uncover evidence that meditation has a tangible effect on the brain as reported in BBC News.
“The death of Carol's husband triggered a relapse of the depression which had not plagued her since she was a teenager. She, however, recovered fully and gave credit to a new, increasingly popular therapy called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which primarily consists of mindfulness meditation.”
Every one of us has at one time or another experienced period of depression. For me, meditation is an invaluable tool―a tool I use to “see” the true nature of this gloomy feeling … as it is … detached from the “me”… and then letting it go.
For those who have suffered repeated bouts of depression, research has also shown that meditation can dramatically reduce the chances of relapse. How is this so? Daily meditation practice can prepare you mentally before the blue sets foot in you.
Being mindful of your thoughts and feelings makes you a master rather than a slave of the mind. Progressively, you tend to respond accordingly (instead of reacting immediately) to physical and mental stimuli.
Yes, moving your body is good medicine. You can shake, dance, do aerobic exercises; you can bike, jog, swim, tend to your garden, or take brisk walk in the fresh air; or if you prefer you can participate in moving meditations such as yoga or tai chi.
Moving the body can make a difference in your mood. Here's an interesting article on running and meditation―truly “a marriage made in heaven!”
Having said that, however, excessive exercise can be harmful to your health too. So don't overdo it.
I agree that people who are depressed may not feel much like being active, but as strange as it may sound, once you start “doing it” the feeling of heaviness will start to melt away. Even asking a friend to join you is a good starting point―of course you have to pick up the phone first!
Some yoga poses, for example, stretches and inversions, can help relieve feelings of depression. Another area where yoga benefits people with depression is the art of breathing control known as pranayama.
Since we must always breathe, even if we are deeply depressed, why not at least intensify our breathing! This will start the ball rolling. Try it. It works wonders! A little effort, a little nudge is all you need to get cracking. Don’t forget these natural antidepressant exercises are at your disposal, always.
Natural Antidepressants in Your Hands!
Dr. Dharma Singh Khalsa, the President and Medical Director of the Alzheimer's Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) in Tucson, Arizona said, “A map of the brain shows that the nerve endings on your fingertips correspond to more areas of the brain than any other body area, except perhaps the tongue and lips.”
This is hand reflexology.
Hand reflexology is an effective self-help natural antidepressant method that works to relieve symptoms of depression by stimulating specific acupressure points/nerve endings in hands.
It induces the release of any blocked energy, and promotes production of natural “feel-good” hormone, serotonin, to combat depression. Now, you don’t have to wait until the blue beats you to start this simple massage technique; all it takes is just a few minutes to do a whole self massage on your hands!
Combine the techniques from these two videos to get the best of both worlds!
Introducing “Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands”.
The author, Gertrud Hirschi, who has had firsthand experience with depression in her life as an asthma sufferer, shared with us the “Tse” hand mudra (the special finger or hand positions).
This mudra has helped her deal with her own depression many years back. She quoted a passage from a book of Qi Gong by Kim Tawm, a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) expert:
“Tradition says that this mudra chases away sadness, reduces fearfulness, turns away misfortune, bad luck and overcomes depression. The Taoist monks believe you need to repeat this hand mudra exercise at least seven to forty nine times, but at least seven times.”
This is how you do the Mudra:
Sit comfortably in a relaxed position and place both your hands on your thighs. Clench your fist, but with the four fingers encircling the thumb (thumb in the fist). The tip of the thumb should touch the root or base of your little finger.
Now inhale slowly through your nose into the abdomen; hold your breath; form the sound “OM” seven times in your head, and hear the vibration through your right ear. Then, slowly exhale while opening your hands. Visualize all your worries, sadness, and fears leaving your body. Repeat this exercise at least seven times.
The good thing about using these simple manual natural antidepressants is that they can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and with minimal effort. I’ve tried a few hand mudras from the book myself (and I’m still keeping at it). So, do they work? You bet!
A dose of sunshine can certainly chase away the shadow of depression. Sunlight/vitamin D has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, one of the brain chemical that affects emotional states. As mentioned previously, serotonin is one of our body’s “feel-good” hormones; endorphin is another one.
Those suffering from seasonal depression due to inadequate or lack of exposure to sunlight, according to scientists from the University of Toronta, Canada, tended to improve as their body levels of vitamin D increased.
Of course I’m not suggesting that you bask in the scorching hot afternoon sun for hours thinking that more is better! For answers to a safe recommended dose, check out this hot natural antidepressant article.
Besides lifting up your spirit and getting rid of anxiety, do you know that sunlight can also help you sleep like a bum naturally?
People Need People. Or Pets?
As in the family environment, healthy socialization is key to maintaining a positive relationship; and feeling well deserved and part of someone's life.
In 1992, Gotlib and Hammen found that “people with the symptoms of depression are found to test low in social activities, close relationships, quality close relationships, family actives, and network contact, yet they test high in family arguments.”
I’ll let you in on a little “secret” … the Okinawan centenarians lived a healthy long life not because they have bigger cars, bigger houses, or bigger bank accounts; but they have bigger hearts! Opening out to others through social interaction is one of their “simple” secrets to longevity.
Yet for some, stress relief from pets is another healthy alternative.
The Best Medicine!
Letting out a laugh reduces stress hormones! Don’t feel like laughing? Put the “feeling” aside and “just do it” … give yourself a hearty belly laugh, and immediately you’ll notice the positive effect it has on your mood.
According to Peter Derks, professor of psychology at the College of William and Mary who conducted a brain study in humor research, “a wave of electricity sweeps through the entire cortex of our brain.”
In other words, laughter is a full-brain experience; and that it produces a wide-ranging effects psychologically and physiologically, is no surprise.
Therefore, when you’re feeling the blue, don’t go for horror, thriller or war movies; and don't try pulling yourself through with kitchen sink drama―you’ve had enough of all these already!
Instead, watch your favorite sitcom; read funny papers; or if you prefer listen to a comedian. These are your coping mechanisms during trying time, and they may just be your prescription for happiness.
In truth, our diet can make a big difference in how we feel. One of the benefits of healthy eating is that it can help lift your mood. Here are some natural antidepressant diet tips: eat more fresh fruits and vegetables; limit intake of fats, sweets, salty snacks or processed food; go for pure clean water instead of soft drinks; alcohol is a no-no; and …
When possible, prepare your own meals. Besides taking the initiative do something, i.e. to cook, you’ll also know what exactly is going into your food, and you’ll be sure that every meal is healthy.
Both stress and depression can affect appetite. As a result, you may gain or lose weight. These, however, are unhealthy ways of weight control, so don’t be too proud of the “achievement.” A balanced eating plan is what you need to get you back to your proper, ideal weight.
Does depression affect quality of sleep? Or is it lack of quality sleep that causes depression?
Both are correct.
Various studies have shown that more than 80% of the people suffering from depression also suffer from sleeping problems―either they couldn’t sleep or they sleep too much.
A quality sleep includes good 6 to 8 hours of sleep without any disruption. But depression causes disruption most of the time.
A quality sleep also means you go to sleep soon after you get to the bed. Again, a depressed person finds it very difficult to go to sleep, and often spends hours awake in gloom before going off to sleep.
Reported in the Health Day News is a two-year study involving 10,654 patients, about age 52 on average. The large scale study confirms that “people who get six to nine hours of sleep each night rate their quality of life higher and are less likely to feel depressed than those who sleep less.”
“But, sleeping more than nine hours each night is ill-advised,” the researchers added.
To what extent does sleep deprivation actually affect your mental health? Here is Stanford Sleep and Dreams' article on the effects of sleep deprivation.
Increasing the intake of natural antidepressant such as fatty fish oil may reduce the intensity of symptoms for sufferers of depression.
Known for its multiple health benefits, Omega 3 fish oil has been proven by neuroscientists “to produce alterations in serotonin and dopamine levels.”
Studies have shown “an increase in rates of depression where depletion of omega-3 fatty acids occur in the Western food supply.”
To save you the hassle of cooking or going to a sushi restaurant, you can also take fish oil as a supplement. But there is one “small” problem when choosing a fish oil supplement … not all Omega 3 fish oil is created equal!