All Natural Treatment of Depression
Treatment of depression is as diverse as those who suffer from it. While medications have been shown to help reduce symptoms in moderate to severe depression, they do not address the underlying causes and may not be a good long-term solution. Life-style changes are powerful tools for improving mood. But they may not be as simple as taking a pill. However, today consumers are increasingly interested in finding life-style solutions that don’t rely on psychotropic medication.
Regular exercise can be as effective in the treatment of depression as medication. It increases the neurotransmitter serotonin, endorphins, and other “feel good” chemicals in the brain, and promotes the growth of new cells, just like antidepressants do. Even walking for thirty minutes a day can make a significant difference in one’s mood. Ideally, thirty to sixty minutes of aerobic exercise most days is a reasonable goal.
Using mood-boosting amino acids in the form of dietary supplements can alter neurotransmitters in the brain, which have been found to reduce insomnia, relieve anxiety, and improve mood. Some of the most important amino acids that impact mood are tryptophan, 5-HTP, phenylalanine, tyrosine, glutamine, GABA, and SAM (s-adenosylmethioniine). 5-HTP produces a calming effect and is a precursor for serontonin, whose deficiency is a common culprit in depressive symptomatology. On the other hand, phenylalanine has a stimulating effect and can be helpful in moderating excessive fatigue often common to depression.
Dietary changes can also have a profound impact on one’s mood. Not surprisingly, there is not one optimal diet for everyone. Because each person’s physiology is unique, we all have different needs for protein, fat, and carbohydrates. In his intriguing book, Depression Free for Life: a Physician’s All-Natural, 5-step plan, Gabriel Cousens, M.D., suggests different diets for those who metabolize blood sugar quickly and efficiently, and those who don’t. Fast oxidizers are people whose bodies are relatively quick and efficient at breaking down or oxidizing blood sugar. They tend to snack frequently, cannot skip a meal without feeling jittery, and get a quick lift from eating sweet foods. Then they have a sudden drop of energy. On the other hand, slow oxidizers are people whose systems metabolize glucose at a much less rapid rate. They often feel lethargic after eating fatty foods like cheese, pastries and chips, and have increased energy after eating sweets, grains or fruits. Dr. Cousens suggests that in order to maintain a steady level of energy, fast oxidizers should eat low carbohydrate foods, such as leafy green vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and dried beans, as well as higher amounts of protein. Slow oxidizers often feel more energized on complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, corn,and sweet potatoes.
Maintaining a sense of humor can have a very significant impact on depression. Laughter has been found to enhance circulation, boost the immune system, stimulate digestion, and reduce stress. Humor brings people together. And laughter just feels good! Try to intentionally incorporate laughter into your daily routine, listen to comedians as you are driving in your car, watch cat videos on-line, join in with children (who tend to laugh more than adults), and share jokes with others. A heavy dose of Parks and Recreation and/or The Office is highly recommended (this was for you, of course).