Being diagnosed with depression in a world where mental disorders might not even be acknowledged can be difficult. Depending on your individual symptoms and experiences, your psychiatrist might ask you to do simple exercises to beat depression. However, they often also prescribe antidepressants.
There might be times when you feel like the pills aren’t working for you. There might also be times when you don’t wish to deal with depression through pills. Why not go for natural alternatives instead? To figure out how you can beat depression through natural ways, it’s important to first understand how antidepressants work.
How Do Antidepressants Work?
About 10% of women over 18 take antidepressants in America.1 Considering that this number is just very likely to increase, it is important to know just how these pills work. Antidepressants work by targeting the neurotransmitters in the brain.2 These are responsible for regulating your mood.
Antidepressants are of different types, prescribed on the basis of individual requirements and medical history. Some work by influencing the serotonin system, which controls mood, sleep, appetite, and learning, while others don’t. But they almost always come with certain side effects, such as decreased sexual desire, difficulty in having an orgasm, headache, insomnia, drowsiness, and vivid dreaming. You might even feel like you are not yourself at times.
Why Choose Natural Ways To Beat Depression?
Several chemicals called endocrine disruptors influence the endocrine system. These produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in humans. Some of these disruptors include plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.3 This disruption might be a cause of depression in many.4 Considering that chemicals might cause depression, it makes sense to want to steer clear of chemical-laden pills.
Whatever the reason is for you to want to go off of the antidepressants, make sure you do it with your doctor’s approval. Remember, when you stop taking the pills, you might experience some withdrawal symptoms. These differ for each individual and might include irritability, sleep changes, anxiousness, and digestive disorders.5
Natural Remedies For Depression
Recent research has shown that naturally occurring amino acids – tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan – might alleviate the symptoms of depression. When had on an empty stomach, they convert to serotonin. With enough serotonin production, you might not need antidepressants at all.6
However, it’s important to ensure that you are not deficient in iron, riboflavin, or vitamin B 6 for both tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan to work well. Foods rich in these amino acids include cheese, chicken, chocolate, eggs, peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, tofu, and turkey.7
Tyrosine is an amino acid required for protein synthesis. The body makes tyrosine from another amino acid called phenylalanine. Although there isn’t enough evidence to support tyrosine’s effects on depression, some studies state that the two amino acids convert to dopamine and norepinephrine. The latter is responsible for cognition, motivation, and intellect, which are important for social interactions.
Studies argue that a lack of these amino acids causes social dysfunction, which is a major cause of depression.8 9 Foods rich in phenylalanine (which will then make tyrosine) include meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, and pulses.10
3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that most Americans don’t have enough foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids.11 Research linking these fats to the treatment of depression is relatively newer than most other research on depression. But, there’s enough evidence to state that it might positively affect the symptoms of depression, especially bipolar depression.12 Foods rich in omega 3 include fish, fish oil, canola oil, and soybeans.13
These amino acids and fatty acids can also be taken in the form of supplements. However, we’d like to reassert that always consult your doctor before opting for supplements or going off of antidepressants. It’s important to remember that depression is different for every individual. Making changes in your food habits and lifestyle with this knowledge is sure to help alleviate your symptoms.
|↑1, ↑5||Going off antidepressants. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑2||More than a happiness boost: How mood medications help when you’re depressed. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑3||Endocrine Disruptors. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑4||Heindel, Jerrold J. “Endocrine disruptors and the obesity epidemic.” Toxicological Sciences 76, no. 2 (2003): 247-249.|
|↑6, ↑8||Rao, TS Sathyanarayana, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and KS Jagannatha Rao. “Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses.” Indian journal of psychiatry 50, no. 2 (2008): 77.|
|↑7||Tryptophan. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑9||Moret, Chantal, and Mike Briley. “The importance of norepinephrine in depression.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 7, no. Suppl 1 (2011): 9.|
|↑10||Adding the amino acid tyrosine to the diet of people with phenylketonuria. US National Library Of Medicine.|
|↑11||Papanikolaou, Yanni, James Brooks, Carroll Reider, and Victor L. Fulgoni. “US adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003–2008.” Nutrition journal 13, no. 1 (2014): 31.|
|↑12||Osher, Yamima, and R. H. Belmaker. “Omega‐3 fatty acids in depression: A review of three studies.” CNS neuroscience & therapeutics 15, no. 2 (2009): 128-133..|
|↑13||Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth. US Department Of Health And Human Sciences.|