You might be experiencing a serious case of the winter blahs. Or you might feel a big post-holiday letdown. Or, you could be dealing with some huge issues in your life that leave you feeling down.
I know all too well what this feels like. Less than three months after Little Sister was born, my unemployed husband found a new job three hours away from our home. While Prince Charming started his new job, we sold our well-loved house, and I packed, moved, and took care of my two very young children by myself. When we rejoined my husband, we crammed into a small two-bedroom apartment for a year. Last summer Prince Charming found his dream job close to my family, so we moved in with my parents until we could find a new home. Five months later, we’re still with my ma and pa – and we’re finally waiting to close on our new home.
Throughout these past two years there have been dark days, for sure. I’ve turned into a different person through the process. During these two years I haven’t liked many of my thoughts and actions, but I’ve relied on God and hunkered down into survival mode. (Cue the music: “And I’ll survive. I will survive … yeah yeah!”)
Enough about me, though. Dr. David Mishoulon, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard University, defines depression as “a psychiatric disorder which manifests itself primarily with a depressed mood — the person may feel sad, down or blue for most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of at least one month, and often longer. Left untreated, depression can become more difficult to treat over time.” 1
I know I haven’t developed a serious case of depression, but I definitely have a mild case. Recently I’ve discovered some natural treatments that just may help.
Since I’m not a medical professional, it’s important to note that you should continue your current treatment and medication if you are being treated for depression. Always consult your doctor first. (And be sure to check with your trusted doctor about serious side effects of medications prescribed to treat depression.)
A diet rich in serotonin will help boost your mood. (Serotonin is a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter. Many believe that a deficiency in serotonin is linked to depression.) Vitamin B6 helps produce serotonin – taking a multi-vitamin can help supplement vitamin B6.
Choose foods rich in serotonin like bananas, kiwi, pineapple, plums, and tomatoes. Other foods that contain adequate amounts of serotonin are avocados, black olives, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cottage cheese, dates, eggplant, figs, grapefruit, honeydew melon, legumes, nuts, spinach, turkey, and whole grains.
Make sure you’re consuming lots of folic acid, too – it’s found in green leafy vegetables, beans, fortified grains, and fruit. Folic acid also is found in B-complex vitamins.
Magnesium is an important vitamin that produces serotonin. Stress depletes magnesium, though. Aside from a multi-vitamin, you can increase your magnesium intake through green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in salmon, sardines, and anchovies, help maintain normal brain function. If frequently eating fish isn’t your ideal meal plan, take fish oil capsules. To combat depression, choose a brand that includes EPA and DHA.
You should avoid certain foods and beverages, too – alcohol, coffee, fatty foods, sweets, anything with artificial colors or flavors, anything with preservatives, and processed foods. It’s funny how a simple diet – just plain old healthy eating – it will help you lose weight and prevent depression.
If you want to avoid depression, then get moving! Exercise will help release endorphins (brain chemicals that help a person feel better), lower stress, and increase energy. Something as simple as taking a brisk walk will help improve your mood.
If you’ve noticed you experience seasonal mood changes, sunlight is an easy solution. Many fall and winter days just aren’t sunny, though. Make sure you’re exposing yourself to natural light throughout the day morning. One easy way to get both sunlight and exercise is to take a walk outdoors each morning or afternoon. (Granted, it’s nearly impossible for people working 9-to-5 to accomplish this. If this is your predicament, try taking an outdoor break over lunch.)
Found in a variety of forms, you can alleviate depression through relaxation. Try:
- Meditation; (Clearly focus on one thought for at least 10 minutes.)
- Massage; (Touch therapies like massage increase endorphins.), or
- Focused relaxation. (Get comfortable sitting or lying down, close your eyes and focus on relaxing your body, one part at a time. Start from your head and end up at your toes.)
St. John’s wort
Today, I’m linking up with: