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Natural Remedies for Depression
Many people suffer from mild or moderate depression in silence. These people often hide their symptoms from friends and family, hoping that it will just go away on its own. It rarely does, and they would benefit from any one, or a combination, of natural remedies for depression.
One of the most popular natural depression remedies is St. John's Wort. This herbal supplement has been shown in many clinical studies to have positive effects similar to prescription antidepressant medication, with fewer side effects. Many of the popular prescriptions have sexual, appetite, or sleep problems as side effects. While St. John's Wort does not, its main side effect is an increased sensitivity to light, which usually affects fair-skinned people the worst. Other side effects common to both St. John's Wort and prescription medications are dry mouth, headache, fatigue and dizziness.
Other herbal remedies that are gaining popularity as cures for mild depression are ginkgo biloba, kava kava and black cohosh. Each of these is used for a specific type of depression. Ginkgo biloba is primarily used by people suffering from mild depression and memory loss or other dulled mental functions because it helps improve overall mental health. Kava kava is used mainly for anxiousness associated with depression because it calms a person and helps them fall asleep and have more restful sleep. Black cohosh is relatively new as an antidepressant, but it shows promise because it calms the nerves, encouraging sleep and it increases daytime energy.
Another natural remedy for mild depression is targeted amino acid therapy, or TAAT. This works because certain depressions include imbalances in brain chemicals, which are made from amino acids. This imbalance is found by a simple non-invasive test. Once the test is performed and the type of imbalance determined, treatment can begin. This involves taking supplements of the amino acid needed to make the brain chemical, which is deficient. There are four types of amino acids used to make brain chemicals. They are 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan), L-Carnitine, L-Tryptophan and SAM-e. L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP are used to make serotonin. L-Carnitine has been shown to relieve depression, although there is no clear reason why as this amino acid is primarily used to turn stored fat into energy. SAM-e is involved in methylation, the process by which the body makes brain chemicals, so this amino acid is also involved in the production of serotonin.
Many people suffering from mild depression also have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. In these cases, the deficiency may be causing the depression. A very simple way to see if that is the case is to change the diet. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and niacin are the most common deficiencies. Folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and magnesium are used to make brain chemicals. Omega-3 fatty acids compose part of the cell membrane and are used in sending signals to other cells. Niacin is used for general function of the nerve cell.
One more natural cure is lifestyle modification. This would include changing the diet, if there is a vitamin or mineral deficiency, but is not limited to just that. One way to change lifestyle is to use more natural lighting. Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression linked to a vitamin D deficiency, which can be obtained from sunlight. People in areas with extended winters or dark periods are especially vulnerable to this depression. Many doctors suggest getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight every day, whether that is gotten outside or by sitting near a sunny window indoors. Physical exercise and sufficient sleep can also be remedies for depression because exercise gets the blood flowing, which helps the overall mood and sufficient sleep is needed to deal with the everyday stresses of life. While sufficient sleep may help with stress, it's not the only way to deal with stress and reduce depression. All stress reduction techniques, but especially meditation, yoga, biofeedback and massage, have been shown to help reduce depression and raise brain chemicals.
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