Depression is a disease that robs people of their energy, dreams and motivation, and replaces it all with a persistent feeling of sadness and lost of interest. Depression can insidiously impact all areas of your life.
If you are suffering from depression, you want to find an answer so you can get back to your life! If you are like approximately 4 out of 10 Americans, you want to use holistic or alternative medicines to treat medical conditions.(4) This includes treating depression.
As a naturopathic doctor I know that it is possible to treat depression using holistic medicine, however I don’t advise anyone to treat depression this way unless they are under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.
The reason is simple. If you are not treating the underlying cause of your depression, then using natural methods will not help.
I do, however, think that there are holistic treatments that you can use in conjunction with traditional treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms of depression.
When dealing with depression, it is important to find the cause of depression because that will guide the treatment that you and your health care provider choose.
Here are some examples of underlying causes for depression:
Brain chemistry changes
Research shows that people with depression have physical changes to the brain or to neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. When there are changes to the neurotransmitters, this can have a profound effect on someone with depression.
When hormones get out of balance, it can trigger depression. Hormones are chemical messengers that are produced in one organ to change the function of that organ, or another organ elsewhere in the body.
Depression in women may be associated with times of menstruation, pregnancy, and the periods before and after menopause.
Depression tends to be more common in people with family members who have had depression.
A past history of physical sexual or emotional abuse can cause depression later in life.
Death or loss of a significant relationship
Loss or death of a friend or family member, or dealing with divorce can cause depression.
About one-third of the people that abuse substances like alcohol or drugs have clinical depression as well, according to WebMD.
Once you have worked with your health care provider to understand the cause of your depression, you can talk about how to use holistic medicine as part of your treatment.
Here are my favorite holistic treatments that generally can be incorporated into all depression treatment plans, along with the best recommendations of your doctor.
Eat Whole Foods
It is essential to eat a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet for any underlying cause of depression. This is true for any disease, really. We are looking at making sure your nervous system has all the building blocks it needs for your neurotransmitters.
It is just as important to have good eating patterns as it is to eat nutritious foods. Eating patterns like poor appetite, skipping meals, and overindulging in sugary and sweet foods, can precede and impact depression. It is important to have consistent eating patterns focused on healthy foods to minimize onset of depression.
Exercising regularly can improve the chemicals and neurotransmitters called endorphins in the brain. These are sometimes called the "feel-good" chemicals. They are also known to cause a runner’s high. Exercise seems to rewire the brain in positive ways.
Lack of sleep can make depression worse. Try to create consistent sleep routines every night to help make sleep easier. This includes going to bed at the same time every night, and shutting off all of the electronic devices.
Nutritional or herbal supplements can be effective in treating depression. They have to be used in the right dosages, though, so you need to consult with your doctor before taking them.
Amino acids like 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), tyrosine, phenylalanine, and S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) or essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids have been reported to help ease depression, but they must be taken in proper dosages, and they must not be interacting with other medications. They should be taken under the supervision of a qualified health care professional.
When depression is treated effectively, the life of the person affected, and the lives of those around them, change for the better. Getting to the underlying cause and creating a successful treatment plan can make all the difference.
Dr. Dae's website: www.healthydaes.com
Dr. Dae's book: Daelicious! Recipes for Vibrant Living can be purchased @ www.healthydaes.com
Dr. Dae's Bio:
Dr. Daemon Jones is your diabetes reversal, hormones, metabolism and weight loss expert. Dr. Dae is a naturopathic doctor who treats patients all over the country using Skype and phone appointments. Visit her or schedule a free consultation at her website, www.HealthyDaes.org
1) 10 Natural Depression Treatments. WebMD.com. October 23, 2015.
2) Causes of Depression. WebMD.com. October 23, 2015.
3) Depression (major depressive disorder). The Mayo Clinic. October 23, 2015.
4) The Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. Nation Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health. October 23, 2015.
5) Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. October 23, 2015.
Reviewed October 30, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith