Depression can be caused by many factors and can be found in every culture in men and women of any age.
Experts have placed an estimate that approximately ten percent of the population in United States suffer from one or more forms of depression. Moreover, over twice as many women are diagnosed with depression as men.
Depression not only affects the mind, it has a negative physical effects on the entire body as well.
Depressed individuals often experience insomnia, fatigue, low sex drive and diminished appetite. In severe depression, the individual is at risk of suicidal thoughts and a small percent of them will commit suicide.
I have compiled a list of natural remedies that have be studied for the treatment of depression. Below is a summary of remedies used by alternative medicine practitioners.
|Natural Remedies||What Experts Say...|
SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine) has been shown in clinical studies to help with mild to moderate depression. This naturally occurring chemical is used by the body to manufacturer neurotransmitters to allow nerve cells to communicate with each other.
Dose: Start with 200 mg twice daily. If improvements are not seen in 3 weeks, increase the dose to 400 mg twice daily. Dose up to 1,600 mg has been used in clinical trials.
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is used by the body to make serotonin, one of the many neurotransmitters responsible for elevating mood.
Dose: Start off with a dose of 50 mg three times daily. It is best taken on an empty stomach. Increase the dose up to 100 mg three times daily in 3 weeks if you do not notice any benefit.
Caution: Do not combine 5-HTP with prescription antidepressant medication unless under direct supervision of your health care provider.
|St. John's Wort||
St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been shown in several clinical studies to be helpful in treating mild to moderate depression.
See Benefits of St. John's Wort for the full review on this herbal remedy.
Dose: Take 300 mg three times daily. Choose a formulation that is standardized to 0.3% hypericin (one of the main active ingredients found in St. John's wort.)
Low levels of vitamin D has been linked to a higher risk of developing depression. Clinical studies show this relationship.
Dose: Take at least 1,000 mcg daily. Higher doses can be safely used under the supervision of your health care provider.
Studies show that low levels of B vitamins such as vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, biotin and pantothenic acid may cause depression.
Dose: Take a B-complex 50 tablet once daily. A B-complex multivitamin tablet contains the family of B vitamins.
Studies show that people who have a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) are more likely to become depressed.
Studies support many health benefits of fish oil for treating a wide variety of health conditions other than for depression.
Dose: Take 500 to 1,000 mg daily of the combined EPA and DHA. Higher doses can be safely used. Doses as high as 9,000 mg daily (in divided doses) have been used.
Ginkgo may be helpful in boosting mood in the elderly population. Some small studies show that it can lower the sexual problems that comes from taking prescription antidepressant medications.
Ginkgo also seems to improve blood circulation to the brain as well as to enhance the effect of neurotransmitters in the nerve cells.
See Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba for the full review on this popular herb.
Dose: Take 60 to 120 mg two times daily. Choose products that are standardized to flavone glycoside and terpene (two of the main active ingredients found in ginkgo).
Clinical studies showed that curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) may be helpful in treating depression. It is believed to work on serotonin receptors that are responsible for controlling mood.
See the article Turmeric for Depression for comments on this particular use of this spice.
For more information about this spice, see the full review Benefits of Turmeric.
Dose: Start with 500 mg of curcumin two times a day for a period of at least 6 weeks.
Animal studies show that this Peruvian herb may be helpful in treating depression.
Dose: A dose of 500 to 1000 mg up to three times daily has been used to treat other health conditions (such as low libido).
See Benefits of Maca for a full review on this herb.
Melatonin has been suggested by some experts for managing depression. It may be helpful in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depressive condition that occurs during the winter months.
Depressed individuals commonly suffer from sleep disturbances. Melatonin may help treat insomnia.
Dose: Take 0.125 to 3 mg at bedtime.
See Benefits of Melatonin for a complete review on this natural hormone that the body produces.
Clinical depression is not "just feeling depressed" over something that happened.
People often use the word "depressed" to describe how a person is feeling. Often these feelings are temporary.
However, clinical depression is associated with actual changes in brain chemistry and neurotransmitter levels (chemicals that nerve cells use to communicate with each other).
There are many symptoms that must be present in order to make a diagnosis of clinical depression. There must be at least five of the listed symptoms below:
A feeling of fatigue or loss of energy during most days
Reduced ability to think or concentrate on tasks or the inability to make simple decisions on most days
Significant change in weight
Inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
A depressed mood
Loss of interest in activities that are normally pleasurable
Reduced muscle movement or increased muscle spasm
A feeling of worthlessness or expressing excessive guilt on most days
Thoughts of death or thoughts of suicide
Thinking of using natural remedies for depression treatment?
Some natural supplements have been shown to be effective for treating mild to moderate depression.
Major depression, however, would require potent prescription medications and proper treatment by your doctor or specialist. It is unwise treat it naturally.
Most (but not all) of these remedies may be safely combined with conventional antidepressant medications for an enhanced effect but be aware that there might be interactions.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are currently on prescription antidepressant medications and would like to add on a natural remedy.
In the best case scenario, you might be able to use a lower dose of the antidepressant medication. You can consider this path after discussing it with your doctor.