Statistics show that more than 15 million adults in the United States suffer from clinical depression and anxiety every year, and the worst part is that 80% of the people suffering are not taking any treatment for it! If the situation remains that same, experts predict that depression and anxiety would be the second most common health problem by 2020! Depression, anxiety, stress – these are some things that come handy with the kind of lifestyle that we are living, in the modern world! With too much to do and too little time, with things changing so fast, with more work and less job security, and meeting day-to-day demands while maintaining the standard of living…, most of us don’t even realize when depression and anxiety enters our system and disturb the enthusiasm of living life! Another fact that remains, is that most of us know that we are depressed, but never want to make it official by seeking medical help. Instead, we tend to take things under our control, and look for alternative medicine for the same. Though I strictly advise medical attention, there are some natural cures that can help you in an efficient and effective way. These are discussed below.
Natural Herbs for Depression and Anxiety
If the world has problems, it also has the solutions! Nature has many remedies that can help control depression and anxiety. These natural herbs are discussed as follows.
Also known as the Valeriana Officinalis, this herb is known for its relaxing or sedative properties. One common problem that people suffering from depression and anxiety come across, is the lack of sleep. Consumption of this herb helps relax the mind and get some good sleep, enabling the person overcome the insomnia caused due to anxiety and depression. Not only this, research states that monitored consumption of this herb also helps in curing other depression symptoms like restlessness, irritation, and high blood pressure. This is because of the ingredient known as Valepotriates which decreases the anxiety and stress in the body. There are different ways in which one can consume this herb. However, when it comes to curing depression, the roots of the Valerian plant are known to be the most effective. There are various supplements available in the market containing the Valerian roots. You can either consume the prescribed dosage in the forms of pills, or you can consume it in the form of tea. It is advisable toconsult an expert regarding the right dosage as an overdose can cause side effects including fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Also, consumption of the Valerian herb is not advisable to women who are pregnant or nursing. It should also not be consumed with alcohol and other sedative drugs. Remember, Valerian is a natural sedative, therefore, make sure that if you are consuming it, you should not be performing certain activities that may put you under risk, say driving for example. This herb is not advisable for long term treatment due to the side effects, which is why, consulting an expert is a must.
St. John’s Wort
The St. John’s Wort is known to be equally effective as a prescribed medicine for treating mild-moderate depression as per the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Also known asHypericum perforatum, this yellow-flowered plant is used for centuries for its medicinal properties. Apart from depression and anxiety, this plant has also been effective in curing sleep disorders and nerve pain. Like the Valerian, excessive consumption of this herb can also lead to side effects like nausea, headaches, and confusion. Also, consumption of St. John’s wort with prescribed medications and drugs can cause health issues. The supplements of this herb are available in the form of pills. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an expert and consume the prescribed doze only.
Also known as Piper methysticum, Kava kava is a plant, whose roots are used to prepare a traditional beverage in the Pacific Islands for centuries. This herb is known to contain relaxing properties due to the ingredients known asKavalactones, which are found in the roots of the plant. Kava is available in the market in various forms including tablets, capsules, tinctures and liquids. Some people also chew the roots directly for consumption. No matter how you use it, it helps the mind and body relax and rest by enabling a sound and peaceful sleep. However, one should be very cautious when it comes to consuming this herb because there have been reports of people suffering from liver damage due to its consumption. Therefore, if you are suffering from liver disease, then you should stay away from this herb. It is also not advisable for pregnant and nursing women to consume kava. Prolonged usage of kava is highly risky, therefore consulting an expert is strictly advisable.
Another herb that is known to be effective in treating anxiety and depression is the ginkgo. The extracts of this herb are known for curing mood disorders and memory problems. Consumption of this herb tends to release certain chemicals which regulate neurotransmitters into the brain, thereby increasing the blood supply. This proves to be effective in curing depression. Although ginkgo has been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine to cure various illnesses, experts are still researching on its effectiveness in curing health issues for modern medicinal usage. There has been evidence that this herb has proved to be helpful in curing depression in older patients. It tends to improve the functioning of the brain and prevents memory impairment. Therefore, it has also proved to be effective in managing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Mayo clinic also states that there has been an early evidence of ginkgo being helpful in treating eye disorders related to aging, altitude sickness, PMS symptoms and vascular insufficiency. It is not advisable to consume this herb for people who are dealing with blood disorders. It is always safe to consult with an expert, as I always say.
Also known as the Passiflora incarnata, the passionflower is another herb which is used in combination with herbs like St. John’s wort, Lemon balm, and Valerian root; to treat anxiety and depression. This herb is known to contain helpful elements like flavonoids which makes it an effective natural sedative. It is also a rich source ofMonoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), which tends to relax a person’s mood, thereby preventing anxiety. This herb was used by the Native Americans and Europeans to treat health issues like insomnia, hysteria, and anxiety. The consumption of this herb tends to increase the chemicals known as theGamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) in the brain cells. It is the increased level of this chemical that causes the brain to relax and calm down. The stems, leaves and the flowers, are used to make supplements which are available in the the form of liquids, teas, and tinctures. Always consult a specialist for accurate dosage. Also, overdose can cause certain side effects like abnormal heart rhythm, dizziness, vomiting, inflamed blood vessels, drowsiness and confusion. Not advisable for pregnant and lactating women.
Also known as Melissa Officinalis, lemon balm is one of those herbs that are abundant in medicinal benefits. It is rich in flavonoids and phenolic acids, which makes this herb a good source for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia, and other mood related disorders. Apart from that, it is also helpful in treating indigestion, stomach cramps, thyroid problems and other nervous system disorders. Speaking of depression and anxiety, lemon balm is known to have sedative properties which calms the mind and improves sleeping patterns. It is generally taken in combination with other calming herbs to increase effectiveness. As I have mentioned for other herbs as well, it is a must to consult an expert for the exact dosage. You can consume this herb in various forms including tablets, capsules, tea and tinctures. It is advisable to not consume lemon balm when you have certain health problems like hyperthyroidism, glaucoma; or if you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
Natural Therapies for Depression and Anxiety
Having understood how the aforementioned herbs help revive our mood disorders in a natural and effective way, this section concentrates on the natural therapies that can be made a part of our daily lifestyle to promote a relaxed mind and body. There are many natural therapies that can prove beneficial to cure depression and anxiety related disorders! These therapies are discussed as under.
Whatever you do, and whatever is around you, tends to affect your mind and body. Speaking of mood disorders, I am sure all of us have experienced a sudden calming effect while sensing a soothing aroma around us. Aromatherapy uses essential plant oils to relax a person, both in body and in mind. This therapy is highly effective when it comes to treating mild depression, and the best part is that there are no side effects whatsoever. Essential oils like lavender, jasmine, cinnamon, rosewood, German chamomile, clove bud, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, lemon, anise, bergamot, sandalwood, etc., can be used for this therapy, specifically for anxiety and depression. Different fragrances have different effects on the brain, therefore, this therapy can prove to be really effective when taken under professional guidance.
Acupuncture has been used by various people suffering from an anxious and depressed mindset. This technique was discovered thousands of years ago in China. The basic principle of acupuncture is to focus on ‘Qi’, which indicate the pressure points in our body which balance the flow of energy. Our body has many acupuncture points that can help in treating various ailments, including depression and anxiety! This technique manipulates the pressure points in the body to calm the mind. For those who do not wish to take medications and drugs to treat depression, acupuncture seems to be a safe and natural way which can cure you in mind, body, and spirit, without any side effects!
Yoga is known to be one of the most ancient techniques of relaxation, developed thousands of years ago in India. It is a way through which the negative energy within us is released out, and the blocked channels are opened to receive a positive and refreshing high in the body and soul. Yoga is known to be very beneficial to overcome problems related to depression, anxiety, and stress. This is because yoga uses various techniques such as stretching, controlled breathing and relaxation, which proves to have a positive effect on the mind and body. Poses like forward bend, child pose,cat pose, legs up the wall, headstand, andback bend; are known to be very effective to deal with anxiety and depression.
The mind is never at peace when a person suffers from problems like anxiety and depression. Meditation is a technique which enables one to reach the altered state of consciousness. The body is at rest, and the mind is focused on one positive thought. It is known that mediation and breathing exercises help relax the body and mind, and helps rejuvenate you from deep within. This is because this state reduces the production of chemicals known ascatecholamine (chemical that is associated with stress response) andcortisol (stress hormone), thereby keeping one away from stress, depression, and anxiety. In fact, learning and practicing proper meditation techniques, like the Sahaja Yoga, can also calm you not only in mind, but also at a spiritual level. Research has also states that using meditation techniques also prevents the recurrence of depression and anxiety attacks.
All one needs when under the influence of depression and anxiety is to get some peace of mind! Haven’t you felt like heaven when you are mentally exhausted and someone just gives a gentle massage on your shoulders? One of the many benefits of massage therapy is to relax and rejuvenate both the mind and body of the person with the help of applying some essential oils and massaging the body! It has been scientifically proven that an effective massage therapy can calm an anxious mind and lift up a depressed mood.
Some More Natural Cures to Fight Anxiety and Depression
Apart from the above mentioned therapies and herbs which can help fight against depression and anxiety, it is also very important to consume the right amount, and the right kind of food to maintain a healthy mind and body. What I am trying to say is that your lifestyle plays a major part in your mental and physical health. Below is the list of some natural ways for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression, which you can adopt in your daily lifestyle to bring about a significant change.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These are essential fats that our body requires for a smooth functioning. Studies show that consumption of omega 3 fatty acids helps in lowering the levels of depression and anxiety in a person. Therefore, make sure that you consume this nutrient, be it in the form of food or supplement. Foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids are fishes like salmon, trout, herring, mackerel and sardines. In fact, a research report states that people who consume high amounts of fish, like in Japan and Taiwan, have 10 times less chances of suffering from depression when compared to people who do not consume a lot of fish, like in North America. So, make sure you consume food items which are rich in these essential fats, or, take recommended dosage of Omega-3 supplements.
5-hydroxytryptophan, abbreviated as 5-HTP is an amino acid which is naturally produced in the body. This is known to boost the serotonin levels in the brain, thereby acting as an antidepressant. 5-HTP is also known to be beneficial is treating sleep disorders, memory problems, lack of appetite, and so on. It is said that people with low levels of serotonin in the body can lead to depression and schizophrenia. 5-HTP is present in food items like meat, fish, eggs and beans; however, the amount is insignificant. Therefore, it is advisable to take monitored dosage of the supplements available in the market.
Like 5-HTP, SAMe is another element that is present in our body. It is also found in the cells of plants and animals. SAMe is an abbreviation for S-adenosylmethionine. This element is known to be highly useful in treating clinical depression. This is because it is a derivative of an amino acid Methionine, which like 5-HTP, boosts the serotonin levels in the body, thereby making the mind calm, relaxed and stress free. However, this supplement should not be taken with prescribed medicines, unless advised by your health expert. Also, people suffering from conditions like, Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder, and surgery should not consume it. Even pregnant and lactating women should avoid its intake.
A person who is more active physically is less prone to depression and anxiety as compared to the person who is less active. So, make sure you do an ample amount of exercises and physical movements that will contribute in keeping anxiety and depression under control. There are so many ways of being physically active. Start doing what you love to do. All of us have our favorite recreational activities. Take out your swimming costume and go for a swim. Sweat all the worry out by going for a run. Take your bicycle out of the garage and explore the lanes. Trust me, there is nothing better when it comes to relaxing your mind and body, than recreation!
Our body and brain needs fuel to function right. It is scientifically proven that the food we eat, affects our mental health as well. Therefore, another natural way to improve your mental health is to give your brain the right food. We have already discussed the importance of neurotransmitters in the healthy functioning of the brain. Porridge is known to have high levels of tryptophanwhich boosts the serotonin levels in the brain. Amino acids, which are made of protein, are also known to be essential for increased serotonin levels. Consumption of plant proteins available in pulses, nuts, seeds, and cereals will help you do so. Try to eat only natural and organic foods. The industrialized food items contain chemicals that can affect the mental health. Also, consuming a lot of vitamins and minerals enriched foods is essential. Which is why, go for fresh fruits and vegetables instead of the processed ones. They are not only a great source of fiber, but also a safe and healthy way to consume natural and safe carbohydrates.
Fighting depression and anxiety is not easy, especially if it has become a natural tendency! However, there are many natural techniques and remedies that can help you cope with this phase in your life! These natural cures will prove to be effective only if you learn to adapt them in your day-to-day life. Adapting these in your daily lifestyle with commitment and dedication will definitely give you the inner energy that will help you overcome anxiety and depression. Take care.