Depression is a widespread and continually-growing mental illness in the United States. Believe it or not, depression affects over 40 million adults worldwide.
Modern medicine has shown incredible advancements in its treatment of depression through medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration such as SSRIs and mood stabilizers. Also, through means of psychological therapy, stress management, exercise, and more, those who have a mental illness are often able to improve their state of mind and quality of life drastically.
Although antidepressant medications may be helpful for some, they also prove unhelpful in many other cases. Some people are resistant to taking antidepressant medications due to their possible adverse side effects.
Enter: Natural Herbs And Supplements
With all the means of treatment available for those with depression or anxiety, a much-overlooked method of therapy is natural supplements. Natural supplements and herbal remedies, for some people, can prove to be extremely beneficial in the treatment of their depression – plus without those pesky (and common) antidepressant side effects.
Where other methodologies may have failed, natural supplements can provide an unexpected “boost” for people whose depression is persistently overcoming them.
Of course, no one substance or therapy will ever amount to being the “magic pill” or “quick fix” that so many sufferers of depression desire. However, with the right use of therapies in conjunction with one another, a thorough recovery is possible.
We’ve prepared a list of 9 natural herbs and supplements that have shown promising results for treating depression. Remember, someone who is depressed must always speak with their doctor before taking any natural supplements. Sometimes interactions may occur between other medications, or side effects may present themselves, and it’s essential to approach consuming anything with caution.
- St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort may be one of the most studied and popular natural supplements or herbs frequently associated with the treatment of depression. One study found that, in the treatment of depression, St. John’s Wort was more successful than its placebo counterpart. St. John’s Wort, however, should not be taken with many psychotropic medications and a discussion with a doctor before consuming this plant is crucial.
Believe it or not, GABA (or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a naturally-occurring amino acid in the brain. GABA supplements serve as a neurotransmitter, helping the brain cells communicate more effectively, thus producing positive emotional results. It can provide feelings of relaxation, reduce anxiety, boost mood, and even help people sleep. Low GABA can affect mood, memory, and other cognitive functions.
- Omega-3 Fish Oils
Perhaps one of the best brain supplements out there (at least, according to many), the Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in achieving optimal brain function. One can absorb Omega-3 fatty acids by eating fatty fish, like salmon, and certain nuts. However, most people don’t naturally eat as much of the Omega-3 fatty acids as they ought to.
- Folic Acid / B Vitamins
The B Vitamins are one of the most commonly talked about vitamins that affect mood. Folic Acid, the human-made form of Folate, is a form of vitamin B9. Deficiencies of the B vitamins has been shown to encourage depression, forgetfulness, and fatigue.
Saffron is an ancient herb derived from a flower that was (and still is) grown in the middle-eastern parts of our world. It’s got incredible health benefits outside of simply the mental health and emotional wellness realm. However, its ability to stimulate certain hormones and improve memory function has caused many to speculate whether it may be beneficial for those suffering from depression.
SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine) is yet another chemical that is found naturally occurring in the human brain and body. There isn’t a surplus of studies done on SAMe benefits towards depression, but it is also known to both produce and influence the body’s hormones. SAMe is safe to consume but should be used only with caution and expert advice as it may have adverse effects when used with antidepressants.
As one of the most-researched supplements for depression, 5-HTP works by increasing the brain’s Serotonin levels. Serotonin affects many mood, anxiety, and depressive disorders. Multiple studies exist in favor of 5-HTP and its effects on depression. Early research indicates that 5-HTP could be as adequate in treating major depressive disorder as more conventional pharmaceuticals.
Studies show that there is a benefit to taking magnesium supplements orally for depression, so long as the specific supplement of magnesium taken is entirely soluble and bioavailable. Many people experience a sense of calmness after ingesting magnesium. Magnesium is a vital mineral found in our bodies, and the more we have, the better off we are (or so it seems). We find magnesium in many foods we eat, yet many environmental factors can cause the depletion of magnesium levels in our diets and therefore, our bodies.
For example, modern pesticides can eliminate pesticides from the soil in which our crops grow. Similar, most minerals are removed from our water during the filtering processes. Of course, all of these advances are generally good for our modern safety and health – but we still need to supplement it. Supplementing with magnesium is often essential.
High levels of stress can deplete the amount of magnesium found in our bodies as well.
L-Theanine, believe it or not, is an amino acid commonly found in green and black teas. You may have heard that tea is right for your mind and body, but therein lies the science behind its function – L-theanine. This acid is known to safely cause drowsiness levels to rise and encourage the utmost relaxation.
Considering antidepressant medications are still considered rather “new” in the realm of treatment modalities for depression, natural herbs and supplements can be a great option for those who are gun-shy with pharmaceuticals. Natural alternatives to SSRIs and other antidepressants become the best method of treatment for many individuals.