While we all have "down days," that does not mean we should resign ourselves to being in a bad mood. The home remedies for depression on this page can help restore your smile.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Brazil nuts. Selenium, a trace mineral found abundantly in Brazil nuts (100 mcg in one nut), can help ease depression. Studies have shown that people who had low levels of selenium tended to be more anxious, depressed, and tired. Once they ate foods containing selenium, however, they felt better. Other selenium-rich foods are tuna, swordfish, oysters, and sunflower seeds.
Coffee. If you're a regular morning coffee drinker, you know what life can be like if you don't have your morning cup. You get a headache, you're cranky, and you feel bad. Well, researchers are finding that caffeine can indeed alter your mood. It makes you less irritable and helps you feel better. Experts do think that having a cup or two of coffee a day may indeed help ease mild depression. But don't go overboard. Downing too much caffeine can make you jittery and may even make you more anxious.
Garlic. German researchers studying garlic's effect on cholesterol discovered that participants being treated with garlic experience an elevation in mood. So try a little garlic therapy if you're feeling down.
Home Remedies From the Refrigerator
Chicken. Low levels of vitamin B6 may be an instigator of depression, especially in women on birth control pills. Vitamin B6 is necessary for the body to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter. The RDA for vitamin B6 is 1.3 mg for men and women up to age 50; after age 50 the amount increases to 1.7 mg. There are 0.5 mg of vitamin B6 in 3 ounces of chicken.
Spinach. Studies are finding that a folic acid deficiency is a major cause of depression. Scientists began to suspect a link between this B vitamin and the brain when they discovered that people diagnosed with depression have lower levels of folic acid than the general population. It seems that folic acid deficiency causes serotonin levels to fall, which can lead to feelings of depression. Ironically enough, folic acid deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in women. But the good news is you only need about 200 mcg a day to meet your folic acid needs. That adds up to about 3/4 cup of cooked spinach.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The brain is one of the richest sources of fatty acids in the body. And research is finding that depressed people have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This polyunsaturated fat is found mostly in fatty fish, such as salmon, cod, pollock, and flounder. It's also abundant in flaxseed and soy products. Researchers believe that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids is essential to ensure the brain is at its healthiest. And a healthy brain is less likely to become seriously depressed.
- If you're dealing with mild depression, there are some practical things you can do to lift your mood.
- Get some rest and relaxation. Be sure you are getting plenty of sleep and are taking time to stop and smell the flowers.
- Junk the junk food. Sure, that sugar high feels good, but when you go through detox a couple of hours after that cupcake, you can feel terrible. Try skipping the sugary stuff and eating something more nutritious.
- Abstain from alcohol. Alcohol is known to aggravate a depressed mood.
- Energize with exercise. Runner's high is caused by an increase in endorphins--the feel-good brain chemicals. But you don't have to run a marathon to get the same mood-lifting feeling. Try taking a walk around the block or walking the dog for 10 or 15 minutes. You'll feel good the rest of the day.
- Focus on friends and family. Leaning on others is one of the healthiest things you can do to get through a tough time in your life.
- Learn to laugh. Laughing actually triggers the same endorphins that are affected by exercise. Read a little Dilbert, watch your favorite Three Stooges movie, and if possible, try to find humor in your situation.
- Think happy thoughts. A recent study found that people who learn to have a more optimistic attitude are less likely to become depressed--even if they were naturally pessimists. Changing the way you perceive life can have a dramatic affect on your mental health.
In addition to these remedies found in your own home, many people find St. John's wort, an herb, to be an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate depression. Learn more on the next page. For more information on treating and understanding depression, try the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- Depression can quickly spiral into a serious and dangerous problem. While severe cases of depression need a doctor's attention, mild depression can be treated with herbs available at your local health-food store. Learn more in Herbal Remedies for Depression.
- You can learn more about the causes and treatments of depression in How Depression Works.
- To learn more about stress and how it can contribute to depression, read How Stress Works.
- One of the major factors that can cause depression is anxiety. Learn how to alleviate this condition in Home Remedies for Anxiety.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.