According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders currently affecting Americans. In 2015, it was estimated that 16.1 million Americans experienced some kind of episode with major depression. That is just what has been documented and reported, but not necessarily an accurate representation of those that are faced with forms of depression throughout their lives that go undiagnosed or untreated.
The good news about depression is that in most cases it is treated. The two most common forms of treatments for depression are psychotherapy and medication, or a combination of the two.
While medication can be helpful in the treatment of depression, it is not necessary unless other methods of treatment do not seem to be working. This can be indicative of a physiological issue with the body that may be causing the depression, such as the insufficient production of the natural feel good hormone known as serotonin. There are medications to help increase these “feel good” chemicals in the body and help bring balance to the serotonin levels, which can have positive effects in the treatment of depression.
There are natural remedies for treating depression, prior to turning to medication for treatment. Below are some of the natural remedies for depression worth exploring for effective treatment.
Focus on Basic Self-Care
When you are depressed, sometimes even the simplest forms of basic self-care seem impossible. However, these are some of the few things in life that we can control and when you can focus on maintaining healthy habits for these basic forms of self-care, you will find that you will naturally do better for your depression than if you don’t. These things include:
- Diet – Having a balanced diet with the necessary nutrients will ensure that you will help to fuel the body with the right foods to handle both the physical and psychological needs of your body. And while there is no magic diet for curing depression, it is believed that foods that are higher in healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids (like fish) or folic acids (avocados and spinach), can help. If you struggle with certain eating disorders when depressed, focusing on a healthy, balanced diet that is free from bingeing and purging, will be extremely helpful for treatment.
- Exercise – Exercise is one of the best natural remedies for depression and a natural way for you to develop feel good hormones known as endorphins in the body. Think about it, how do you usually feel after a workout? You might have some adrenalin flowing through the body and your spirits are usually lifted. You don’t need to spend an unreasonable amount of time exercising each day. The key is to find an activity that you enjoy and can manage to consistently do. It is recommended that you get 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity in each day. This could mean a simple walk outside.
- Sleep – Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep on a consistent basis is beneficial to everyone, but for those suffering from depression, trying to find a consistent routine for sleep can be challenging. You may be finding yourself wanting to sleep at odd times of the day or even more than 9 hours per day. The important part is to get quality sleep at night, where your body has enough time to rest, repair and restore itself.
Journaling is a great way to help you take the time to get the thoughts swarming in your head out and onto paper. It is widely believed that the act of gratitude can be extremely beneficial to lifting up your spirits. This forces us to focus on something positive that we are thankful for having, rather than the all too often sad feeling of lacking or not having enough. When we begin to change our focus from things that we want to have and don’t feel we have and realize how truly lucky we are for the things that we do have, the mind and thoughts and subsequent feelings can often follow. Journaling allows you a safe, judgment-free, and personal space to work through the thoughts and feelings going on in your head and heart and process them in a way that may be helpful for your treatment.
Confide in a Trusted Friend
Others around you may have no clue of what you may be going through or that you’re depressed. In fact, depending on your behaviors, some people may even misinterpret your actions and not be aware that something else is going on. However, it is important to note that it doesn’t mean that you need to go update your Facebook status and let the world know that you’re suffering from depression. If the symptoms are clear and you are struggling with bouts of depression, it may be helpful to you to confide in a trusted friend or loved one about what it is that you’re going through. Those going through depression can often want to disconnect with everyone and that can be a very dangerous and lonely space to be stuck in, particularly if you’re feeling extremely sad, lonely, or helpless. Having someone that cares about you to share how you’re feeling with can help you towards the road to recovery.
Set Simple and Achievable Goals
Depending on deep you may be in your depression, even the simplest of tasks you may do on a daily basis can feel impossible. People who suffer from depression can become very overwhelmed with all their thoughts and feelings. They can become even more overwhelmed when thinking about all of the things they have to do and it can become extremely challenging to function. This can often lead to simply doing choosing to do nothing and retreating. By setting simple and achievable goals, even if it’s as simple as taking the trash out or doing a load of laundry, it helps to clear one more task off the To Do List and leaves you feeling a sense of some accomplishment for the day.
Seek the Help of a Therapist
Last, but certainly not least, if using some of the above natural remedies for depression doesn’t seem to be working, the next step is considering the help of a therapist that you can speak with. This kind of talk therapy is different because a therapist is properly trained in how to respond to things you may share, as well as asking the right kind of questions that will be helpful to your recovery. A therapist can also determine if some of these natural remedies and talk therapy will be enough for your treatment of your depression or if, in fact, your depression treatment may warrant certain medications to help.
If you or someone you love is currently battling with depression, know that help is just one phone call away. Please contact Caree Brown at (925) 943-6764 today to schedule an appointment to come in and see Career. Caree has over 40 years of experience as a therapist and focuses her services in the area of treatment of individuals suffering from depression and anxiety.