I recently wrote a blog asking the question… Are you depressed? I outlined some of the symptoms of depression and some of the factors that can contribute to your depression.
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression you may be interested to know that there are many things you can do to improve your situation.
Psychological counselling and support is very important for many people and anti-depressant medication may also be helpful but it is good to know that there is increasing scientific evidence for other treatments that can be added in to your treatment plan:
What can you do to help your depression?
- Fish oil – a well proven treatment in depression. Your fish oil needs to be of excellent quality (purity), from a sustainable supply and high in EPA/DHA. Required doses can vary enormously depending on the individual so see your naturopath for advice. I recently wrote a blog…the good oil on fish oil.
- Exercise – fantastic for its positive effects on mood in a variety of ways. It improves circulation (and therefore delivery of nutrients to the brain) and results in a release of “feel-good” endorphins….and if you exercise in sunshine it’s like a double-whammy of “feel-good” as it boosts your vitamin D levels. Some studies have shown exercise to be as effective as psychotherapy. Exercising in a social setting can also be beneficial.
- A healthy diet (rich in fatty fish, lean protein, fruit and vegetables (especially leafy greens) and low in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats.
- Reducing “vices” such as caffeine, recreational drugs, alcohol, cigarettes which can play havoc with the balance of brain chemicals
- Optimising digestion to ensure you are absorbing essential nutrients in your food and to address any imbalances in your gut flora (i.e. the bugs in your gut) which can be linked to mental health issues.
- Correcting underlying nutritional imbalances
- Working on good work/life balance
- Turning off the “technology”
- Relaxation and meditation techniques – to lessen the negative effects of stress by decreasing stress hormones.
In addition there are some well studied and very effective herbal and nutritional treatments.
For example Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort). This herb has been extensively studied in the treatment of depression and has been shown to be as effective as some anti-depressant medication. It can interact with certain medicines and therefore should only be used under the supervision of a naturopath, herbalist or doctor trained in herbal medicine.
There are also many other herbs which are wonderful for the nervous system or rebalancing hormones. They can be used very effectively in the treatment of depression and its related symptoms. One of these, which has only recently become available in Australia, is Crocus sativus and another I often use is Rhodiola rosea.
Nutrients which can be useful in the treatment of depression include SAMe and even certain B vitamins.
Last but not least, identifying and addressing any other illnesses or health issues that may be contributing to your depression can be the key to your recovery. (See the list of triggers in my previous blog).
So, if you or someone you know suffers from depression, maybe it’s good to know that there are many things you could do which might help.
Please don’t self-prescribe. Even herbs and nutrients can cause problems if they are not appropriate to your particular needs and you need to be mindful of any other medication you might be taking.
It can be a complex process working out what is going on for you and your biochemistry. This is where working with a naturopath who has a particular interest in mental health and who can work with your doctors can be invaluable. It’s an area of naturopathy I find most rewarding.
If you are wondering if I can help you, feel free to contact me on 03 9620 9503 and I’ll be happy to chat with you about it.