Modern medical approaches to depression remain fairly narrow; you can medicate it, or you can talk about it. For those who are not comfortable with taking medication, or unsure of the benefits of therapy, it is worth investigating what natural remedies can do for you.
St John’s Wort is often referred to as nature’s anti-depressant, and is a natural alternative to SSRIs such as Zoloft or Citalopram. It can be taken in capsule, tablet or tincture form; the latter is sometimes recommended as users report that they feel the effects quicker due to its quick absorption into the system. PLEASE NOTE – do not take SJW if you are using the contraceptive pill, as it can interfere with its effects. Another natural form of anti-depressant is 5-HTP, which is found in tiny amounts in cheese and poultry. Taken as a supplement, 5-HTP is thought to support the brain’s production of serotonin (your ‘happy hormone’) and is recommended for managing depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Other supplements recommended for restoring calm to an anxious mind are Lemon Balm and Valerian Root, both of which promote natural sleep and can help to balance mood swings. If you suspect your symptoms are hormonal, Agnus Castus is used by many women to moderate PMS-related depression, and can also ease skin outbreaks in both sexes.
Exercise is a great way of encouraging the body to release serotonin, but it can be hard motivating yourself to be physically active when you are feeling your lowest. Yoga and tai chi promote calm and relaxation, and if you are feeling shy, can be done in your own home from a book or DVD. These ancient disciplines may appear a fairly gentle form of exercise, but actually work your body very hard by focusing on your muscle, posture and breathing. Both are reported to improve sleep, alleviate depression, and aid digestive flow by restoring the body’s natural balances.
If you prefer a less active form of treatment, massage and acupuncture are renowned for helping to release emotion and leave the recipient calm and relaxed. Reiki healing is also a practice which has grown in popularity in recent years. This form of ancient Japanese energy channelling involves the practitioner focusing on the seven ‘chakras’ of the body in order to release trapped energy and encourage healthy flow. Each area of the body represents a different aspect of our physical and mental well-being, therefore mental anxiety can be targeted by focusing on different areas. Those who have undergone reiki often report colourful visualisations and the sense of pressure in different body areas during the treatment, and improved mood, sleep and productivity after a reiki session.
Depression and anxiety are tricky hurdles to overcome and the notion of one, simple quick-fix ‘cure’ is rarely accurate. Sometimes it will take a combination of lifestyle changes to restore your mental well-being, so do not be afraid to try several different supplements, and experiment with exercise forms or alternative treatments.