If you’re depressed, you might be wary of taking antidepressants. Antidepressant use is incredibly common, with roughly one out of every 10 adults taking these drugs, but apprehension is certainly understandable given the dangerous side effects that are associated with these meds. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to suffer. Thankfully, there are several natural antidepressants and activities that you can try to help alleviate depression.
EGCG (Green tea)
You might be surprised to find that you may already have a very effective natural antidepressant in your pantry. The main active component of green tea, EGCG, boosts your resilience to stress and has been found to be just as effective as anti-anxiety drugs in combating anxiety. Studies have shown that drinking green tea every day can reduce your risk of depression by an impressive 44 percent.
Avoid taking the shortcut with supplements as these are not usually well absorbed by the body. Moreover, when you drink green tea, you’ll benefit from the synergy between the EGCG, l-theanine, and caffeine, which work together to boost attention, learning and memory. If you’re dealing with depression as well as anxiety, this is a great starting point.
Research has linked depression to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and deficiencies of one particular omega-3, DHA, have been linked to depression as well as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Another type of omega-3, EPA, can also reduce depression.
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3s if you don’t tend to eat a lot of oily fish, but be sure you look out for options that contain EPA as well as DHA for the maximum benefits.
This beautiful yellow spice works just as well as Prozac does on depression by acting on serotonin metabolism, according to studies. It can also help decrease appetite. It’s not surprising, then, that saffron is one of the more common fraudulent foods given its utility in losing weight and fighting depression. Look for a standardized extract of the Crocus sativus plant from reputable sources to be sure you’re getting something effective.
Rhodiola (Arctic Root)
If you need quick depression relief, arctic root – also known as rhodiola – is a good bet. Found mostly in the colder areas of the world at higher altitudes, it is a mainstay in Chinese traditional medicine for reducing stress-induced fatigue and boosting physical stamina. It raises the activity of brain chemicals that improve mood, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. When you have depression alongside fatigue or anxiety or it’s caused by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you could find relief from arctic root.
In many cases, the food you eat could cause or contribute to your depression. The trans fats found in fried and processed foods are particularly dangerous in this regard as researchers have found a direct correlation between the amount of trans fats consumed and depression risk. Replacing them with extra virgin oil can reduce your depression risk by as much as half.
You might also consider adding coconut oil to your diet. Its composition of medium-chain fatty acids and antioxidants has also been shown to be as effective as antidepressants at fighting depression.
When you are depressed, it’s hard to find the motivation to do much of anything, but knowing that physical exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mental health may just be enough to get you up on your feet. Because exercise regulates the neurotransmitters that are targeted by prescription antidepressants, it can relieve depression just as well as these drugs can – and in some cases, even better! Exercise boosts the flow of blood to your brain while delivering more nutrients and oxygen.
Not only can it stimulate the formation of new brain cells and increase the connectivity between different areas of your brain, but it can even change genetic expression. Try to get your exercise outdoors so you can also benefit from the depression-alleviating effects of being with nature.
These are just a few of the ways that you can address your depression without having to put your life at risk by taking pharmaceuticals. Why not experiment with these alternatives and see what works for you?
Written by: Isabelle Z