Natural Healing for Depression
According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the US. Statistics from 2016 show that about 16.2 million US adults had at least one ‘depressive episode–’ this amounts to about 6.7% of the population.
NIMH categorizes a ‘depressive episode’ as: “A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.”
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Depression manifests as a range of symptoms. Some of the more common symptoms include lethargy (low energy), low mood (feeling sad or down), trouble sleeping (over- or under-sleeping), lack of interest in life, weight loss or gain, and/or digestive disorders.
While there is not really a ‘cure’ for depression, there are many healing protocols that can help alleviate some of the symptoms. The following is a list of herbal remedies for depression.
There is not one real natural cure for depression, since it’s often a symptom of many things in our body. But these tips will hopefully help healthfully and naturally alleviate some symptoms of depression.
The Connection Between the Gut, Inflammation, and Depression
In recent years there has been a huge push to better understand how our gut health (our digestive system) relates to our immunity, our weight, and yes, even our moods. Much of the research shows that good mental health is strongly correlated with a healthy gut and healthy levels of inflammation.
Taking charge of your gut health includes identifying food sensitivities, healing the gut walls if necessary with herbs and diet changes, and avoiding inflammatory foods and lifestyle stressors. Even if you’re not depressed, improving gut health is a key to an overall healing path.
Our convenience-driven lifestyles means many of us rely on diet high in processed foods, deal with chronic stress, have poor sleep hygiene, and low levels of movement. These factors all impact the ability of the gut to absorb nutrients properly.
To determine the overall health of your gut, a thorough blood panel and stool sample from a functional medicine professional may be helpful. Test of this sort can identify underlying vitamin or mineral deficiencies, as well as document any parasites that may be hindering your health.
Rebalancing deficiencies and imbalances in vitamins and minerals and improving gut flora with supplements, herbs and dietary shifts can have a profound effect on your health that other lifestyle changes may not be able to address. These steps can help to modulate your immune system which will modulate your inflammatory response. Keeping inflammation in check may be one of the biggest steps to tackling depression.
How to Treat Depression Naturally
Using PEMF to Alleviate Depression
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) is a technology that has been around since the 1980s, and has been shown to have positive effects on treating depression. Look for a qualified practitioner with whom you can to explore treatment options.
Using Light Therapy to Alleviate Depression
Exposure to bright sunlight while outside is ideal, but if it’s very cold or you otherwise can’t get outside, a full spectrum light box is very helpful. The full spectrum light is best used in the morning and midday for those with mood disorders. This will help regulate your circadian rhythms and often improves mood and energy levels. Sitting for 10 minutes per day should be adequate, but adjust depending on your feelings.
Even though it might feel temporarily good to imbibe alcohol or other depressant drugs (like marijuana), these should be avoided for long-term improvement in mood and energy. These types of depressants can have a negative effect on depressive symptoms because they can exacerbate symptoms and especially in the case of alcohol, can cause inflammation in the body. If you are relying on alcohol or drugs to self medicate, please find support groups that can help.
Build & Connect Community to Fight Depression
Depression can often lead to isolation and loneliness, which can in turn exacerbate depressive feelings. Making an effort to find a community and find others with shared passions or worldviews can deepen connections and give you the opportunity to enjoy quality time with others. Try to find things that make you happy, whether that’s a hobby or a cause – both can get you out of the house, connected with other people, and part of something bigger than yourself.
Why Movement Helps with Depression
According to Chinese medicine, depression can be considered energetic stagnation in the body. To help move and remove the stagnation, moving the body and getting circulation of blood and lymph through the body can help lift your mood. Movement can be gentle, like a walk or some deep stretching. But if you’re feeling more energetic, a dance or yoga class can be really helpful. Movement can be especially helpful if you can enjoy it outside. Being in nature is proven to be helpful for improving mood and energy.
Herbal Remedies for Depression
Herbs can be your ally when it comes to depression. Some of the more common herbs that work on depressive symptoms directly are Albizia, known as the Tree of Happiness, St John’s Wort, and Lemon Balm, which help lift the spirit and can have effects on the gut and brain.
Other herbs that might be helpful include blood movers such as Yarrow and Dong Quai. Our Silver Lining tea includes Linden, Rosehips, Elderflower, Marshmallow Root, Hawthorn Berries, Rose Petals, Motherwort to help alleviate symptoms of depression and help you find the silver lining in the dark clouds.