Depression is either a minor or serious mood disorder that involves a wide range of symptoms. Some of them don’t interfere with daily life, while others can be life-threatening. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide. Roughly 17 million American adults have experienced one major depressive episode, and adolescents (ages 12-17) have a higher rate of the same episodes. These numbers may not be 100% accurate because many people with depression don’t always seek treatment.
One of the most unfortunate realities in today’s day and age is that many people don’t acknowledge depression as a serious issue. They neglect it and push symptoms to the side, failing to seek help. Sometimes, this is due to inadequate or non-existent mental health support facilities in certain areas. Considering that depression is one of the leading causes of disability, we need to correct this issue and not neglect symptoms of depression. Common symptoms of depression include:
- General sadness
- Feeling of emptiness
- Angry outbursts
- Lack of energy
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or lethargic movements
- Trouble concentrating
- Cognitive changes
- Suicidal thoughts (in worst cases)
How To Fight Against Depression
People have used herbal remedies to treat anxiety and depression for centuries. In more recent years, Western cultures moved away from herbal remedies, focusing on prescription medications. A report on antidepressant use in teens and adults monitored a 400% increase between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. While medications have their place, herbs and supplements can help combat depressive symptoms. The efficacy of these nutrients and herbs will depend on each person’s biochemistry. Keep reading to learn more about natural ways to fight depression.
A little sunshine everyday does more than boost immunity and aid the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D plays many roles in the body, one of which is fighting depression. According to a 2019 review of four randomized trials, vitamin D supplements helped relieve symptoms of major depression. People with depression tend to be deficient or low in vitamin D. People with the lowest levels have more severe depressive symptoms. If you have depression, consider getting out in the sun or supplementing with vitamin D to help improve quality of life.
Valerian root is a mild antidepressant that is commonly used to relax the body before sleep. Many people with anxiety or insomnia benefit from drinking valerian tea before bed. It does have a mild sedative effect on the body that works to improve sleep quality. The good news is that if valerian root doesn’t make you tired if your depression causes anxiety symptoms. It actually works to calm the body and mind. Be mindful that you should not take this herb with other antidepressant medications.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We’ve got the need…the need for omega-3s! According to research, omega-3 fatty acids may help to improve depressive symptoms, especially in postpartum women. One review of 26 studies found that omega-3 supplementation had a positive effect on 2,160 patients with depression. Several studies confirmed that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) proved to be the most effective omega-3s. There are many omega-3 supplements, but you can also find them in avocados, extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and Brussels sprouts.
S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) is a synthetic form of one of the body’s mood-boosting chemicals. Health experts classify SAM-e as a supplement, not a medication, and the FDA has not approved it in the U.S. to treat depression. People in Europe, however, prescribe SAM-w as an antidepressant. It has similar effects to common antidepressants, and it proved to be better than a placebo in one study. The efficacy of SAM-e will depend on the severity of the condition.
This brightly colored spice is highly regarded in the culinary world, but it also has significance in herbal remedies. Several studies confirmed that it may help to naturally treat symptoms of depression. Researchers observed that it may increase levels of serotonin, a powerful mood-boosting chemical. One analysis of five controlled trials found that supplementing with saffron reduced symptoms of depression in adults with major depressive disorder. More research is necessary, but saffron shows great promise for fighting symptoms of depression.
Zinc works to encourage a healthy immune system, but it also works to regulate neurotransmitter pathways. People with depression tend to be deficient or low in zinc levels. One analysis found that blood zinc levels were about 10% lower in people with depression than people without the condition. Another review found that supplementing with zinc alongside antidepressant meds worked to dramatically reduce symptoms.