There are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression. For example, one MRI study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, and reviewed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), investigators studied 24 women who had a history of depression. On average, the hippocampus was 9 percent to 13% percent smaller in depressed women compared with those who were not depressed.
Stress, which plays a role in depression, may be a key factor here, since experts believe stress can suppress the production of new neurons in the hippocampus. Another example is bad experiences or traumas early on in life may also be indelibly etched on the psyche. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and reviewed by the NIH, showed that women who were abused physically or sexually as children had higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and more extreme stress responses than women who had not been abused.
This article will focus on the most important Natural Remedies To Depression that can be implemented into your lifestyle and prevent the return of depression. Depression can drain you of energy and hope, leaving you feeling empty, sad, and helpless. Fortunately, it is also treatable naturally. Depression causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates 16.2 million U.S. adults had at least one depressive episode in 2016, which represented 6.7 percent of the adult population, and one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.
According to the NIH, any chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children. Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Women are twice as likely to have had a depressive episode than men, according to the NIMH and the World Health Organization (WHO). Per a CDC report, over a 3-year period, 10.4 percent of women were found to have depression compared to 5.5 percent of men.
And, for women, depression is complicated by many factors, from reproductive hormones and social pressures to the unique female response to stress. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Being sad from events like losing a love one, or the ending of a relationship, is not the same as having depression, although you may feel depressed.
Experiencing sadness and grief is different, and is typically not constant like feeling of depression, nor do you lose self-esteem and feeling of worthlessness, like with depression, or those feelings of sadness are prolonged, could turn into clinical depression. No matter how bleak things seem, though, there’s much you can do to change the way you think and feel. You can’t just will yourself to just get over it, but you do have more control than you probably realize. By taking small, gradual steps, you can start to feel better and regain your drive, your sense of hope, and your enjoyment of life.
Wikipedia describes depression,
as a state of low mood, and an aversion to activity, that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, tendencies, feelings, and a sense of well being. A depressed mood is normal temporary reaction to life events such as a loss of a loved one.
For more information on depression from Wikipedia read here.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression In Women
According to Mental Health America, one in every eight women will experience depression symptoms at some point during their lifetime. You are not alone! Depression affects more than 19 million American adults age 18 and over each year. A diagnosis of depression usually requires symptoms to occur for 2 weeks or more.
According to the NIMH, the diagnosis must also include 4 other changes in functioning: disruption of sleep or eating, lack of energy or concentration, problems with self-esteem, and thoughts of suicide. It’s important to learn about the signs and symptoms, as well as, the factors that cause depression in women, so you can tackle the condition head on, treat your depression most effectively, and help prevent it from reoccurring. Suppressing your feelings and emotions may seem like a strategic way to cope with the symptoms of depression, but it’s not ever a good idea because it’s really unhealthy.
A DIVA study looked at parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer, who can experience severe psychosocial distress, and their practice of using experiential avoidance or escape from the reality of the trauma, rather than dealing with it. The study hypothesized that experiential avoidance would account for the relationship between traumatic stress and depression. Facing distressing issues head-on is a much better option. Clinical depression is treatable, however, according to the WHO, less than 50 percent of those worldwide with depression receive treatment.
Symptoms can include (according to DSM-5 Criteria):
- Depressed mood and anxiety
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you usely enjoy
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness
- Appetite and weight changes
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Sleeping changes or restless sleep
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Increase in purposeless physical activity or slowed movements and speech
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Reach Out For Social Support
Suicidal thoughts or recurring thoughts of death can be really frightening and stressful. Reach out for social support. You can make a huge impact in combating your depressive state, with simple but powerful self-help steps. Feeling better takes time and effort when you don’t feel like it, or have the energy to make an effort. But you can get there, if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.
Getting support from people who care plays an essential role in overcoming depression, according to an NIH study. However, the study also said certain family members should be avoided that are toxic or unhelpful. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to overcome depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate yourself, so that even connecting to close family members and friends can be difficult. Summon the courage to ask for the help and support you need. It can make all the difference in how quickly you will recover.
Share what you’re experiencing with the people you love and trust. You may have avoided your most treasured relationships, but they can help get you through this tough time. You may think you can’t find anyone to confide in, but you can still make new friendships, even if you’re shy or introverted. How do you reach out for depression support? Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for.
The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to repair you; they just need to be there for you and be a good listener. You need someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned, eye-to-eye, in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.
Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, however, being around other people will make you feel less depressed. Social isolation is a major factor involved in the onset of depression, according to research. It’s nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost by also providing support to someone yourself. So find ways, both big and small, to be there to help and be supportive of others, be a listening ear for a friend, be thoughtful and do something nice for somebody.
Nothing can replace the human connection, but a pet can bring you joy and companionship into your life, and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed and responsible, both powerful antidotes to depression, according to the National Alliance of Mental Health. Consider joining a depression group. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation, and, once again, focusing on someone else’s problems helps too.
Volunteer your time to someone who is also experiencing depression. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences. A BMC review of over 40 studies over the past 20 years revealed volunteering is linked with a reduced risk of depression, a higher amount of overall satisfaction, and less mental distress.
Support Your Health
In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax, calm, and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day. This NIMH review has some great tips on stress and managing it.
Aim for minimum eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves restless sleep problems; whether you’re sleeping too little or too much, or not on consistent time schedule.
When you don’t get the quality of sleep you need, it can heavily influence your outlook on life, energy level, motivation, and emotions. According to the Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. According to an NIH study, sleep disorders are core symptoms of depression, and about three quarters of depressed patients have insomnia symptoms, and hypersomnia is present in about 40% of young depressed adults and 10% of older patients, with a preponderance in females. But, you can get on a set sleep schedule by setting a time and taking at least thirty to forty-five minutes time to relax before you go to bed.
Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. Meditating and focusing intently and quietly on the present for set periods of time can help lessen feelings of depression and anxiety.
Another NIH study found that in long term meditators like Buddhist monks, for example, that their brains have well-developed areas that could be linked to heightened awareness and emotional control and better emotional health. According to an NIH study, forest bathing is beneficial to human health, perhaps through preventive effects related to several pathological factors such as reducing stress-related cortisol and depressive symptoms.
Do things you enjoy or gives you a sense of peace. While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it.
A study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found positive activities act as protective factors against mental health conditions. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Go out with friends and live again. Play ball with your dog. Plant some fresh herbs in the small garden. Go watch a standup comedian at a local club.
Per another NIH study, people who participated in more cultural activities, like attending a play or joining a club, reported lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as a higher satisfaction with their overall quality of life. Take a day trip to a museum, the mountains, or the ballpark, or simple walk down a wooded trail. Getting out in nature is a perfect solution to relieving stress which causes anxiety and depressive moods. Another NIH study confirmed the beneficial medical effects of nature therapy.
Even a simple walk in nature has tremendous mental benefits like reducing ruminations which is associated with depression. Another NIH study found that participants who went for nature walks showed improved activity in the brain prefrontal cortex, a brain region that may play a key role in some mood disorders and has been linked with patterns of negative thought which alters mood and results in both depression and mania.
Develop And Implement A Plan To Deal Of Depression
An important practice in dealing with depression is develop a list of written-down activities that you can do for a quick mood boost and you can do this by starting a journal. The more activities you can develop for coping with depression, the better.
Try to implement a few of these ideas slowly and gradually, each day, even if you’re feeling good.
- Spend some time in nature and kick your shoes off. (See above)
- List what you like about yourself. University of Texas Study
- Read a good book or magazine. Psychological Science Study
- Watch a funny movie or TV show. Psycom review
- Take a long, hot bath. NewScientist Study
- Take care of a few small tasks
- Play with your pet. NIH study
- Talk to friends or family face-to-face. NIH Study
- Listen to music (even id it’s sad) or go dancing. PLOS-One Study
- Do something spontaneous and fun. The Lancet Study
- Eat a good meal out at a nice restaurant. Harvard Health Study
- Get some moderate exercise or go for a swim. Mayo Clinic Study
- Do something that makes you laugh. The Lancet Study
- Set realistic goals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology Study.
- Write down your feelings and thoughts. Psyc Central Study
Another great idea is the start a “Gratitude Journal”, per this NIH study which found the majority of empirical studies indicate that there is an association between gratitude and a sense of overall well being, less anxiety, and depressive symptoms.
Make A Commitment And Take Action
When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone exercising! But exercise is a powerful relaxer and depression fighter, and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. According to an NIH study, exercise appears to be an effective treatment for depression, improving depressive symptoms to a comparable extent. Quoting the study:
It appears that even modest levels of exercise are associated with improvements in depression, and while most studies to date have focused on aerobic exercise, several studies also have found evidence that resistance training also may be effective.
Studies show that moderate exercise increasing energy levels and decreases feelings of fatigue. You don’t even have to go to the gym. A thirty minute walk each day will give you a much-needed boost. And if you can’t manage thirty minutes, then two fifteen minute bursts of movement, one in the morning and one later in the day, are just as effective.
Exercise Can Be Done Immediately To Boost Your Mind
Your fatigue will improve if you follow a regimen. Starting to exercise can be difficult when you’re depressed and feeling exhausted. But research shows, like this Mayo Clinic review, that your energy levels will improve if you keep your exercise up. Exercise will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more. Regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant meditation, but are much more healthier for you. According to a Harvard Health study, moderate-intensity exercise spurs the release of proteins called neurotrophic or growth factors, which cause nerve cells to grow and make new connections.
The improvement in brain function makes you feel better. In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain,the region that helps regulate mood, is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression.
Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercise, such as walking, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or dancing, where you move both your arms and legs. A Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.
Get A Dose Of Sunlight. Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and Vitamin D and improve your mood. Aim for at least fifteen minutes of sunlight a day. Remove sunglasses and use sunscreen as needed. According to an NIH study, effective detection and “spending-time-in-the-sun”, treatment of inadequate vitamin D levels in persons with depression and other mental disorders may be an easy and cost-effective therapy which could improve patients’ long-term health outcomes as well as their quality of life.
- Take a walk on your lunch break, have your coffee outside, eat a bag of nuts for a snack, or spend time gardening.
- Double up on the benefits of sunlight by getting “green” exercising outside.
Try hiking, walking in a local park, or on a mountain trail, or playing golf or tennis with a friend, per an NIH study.
- Increase the amount of natural light in your home and workplace by opening blinds and drapes and sitting near windows for better emotional health and sleep-wake cycle, per NIH.
- If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box to reduce depressive symptoms.
- Read a book or magazine on your outside patio improves mental fatigue, per a University of Michigan study.
For many people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as “Seasonal Affective Disorder”(SAD), per the NIH. Women are diagnosed with SAD at four times the rate of men. SAD can make you feel like a completely different person than who you are in the summer, like hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of recurrent depression cases follow a predominant seasonal pattern involving a fall/winter depression pattern. No matter how hopeless you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.
Eat A Fresh Nutritious Diet And Natural Supplement With An Adaptogen
What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. A nutrient-dense food diet is the cornerstone of Natural Remedies To Depression. Some women find dietary modifications, nutritional supplements and herbal remedies, can help aid in the relief of depression symptoms and these include:
First, Reduce Your Intake of These Unhealthy Inflammation-Causing Foods
Eat regular meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.
Boosting your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folate and B-12 can trigger depression, according to an NIH study. Quoting the study:
There is now substantial evidence of a common decrease in serum/red blood cell folate, serum vitamin B12 and an increase in plasma homocysteine in depression.
To get more, of the B vitamins, and all other vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, eat a variety of the proper nutrient-dense foods and supplement your diet with an all natural organic Adaptogen Peruvian Maca.
Eating foods with Omega-3 fatty acids to boost mood. Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood and preventing depressive symptoms, according to an NIH study. The best sources are wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and tuna.
Drink Caffeinated Coffee. A large longitudinal study published in the Journal of JAMA Internal Medicine, found that depression risk decreases with increasing caffeinated coffee consumption, especially consuming espresso in moderation.
- Lean Organic Meats. Meats should be non-GMO, grass-fed finished beef and bison, free-range finished poultry chicken, turkey and duck, lamb, and pork, brown cage-free eggs, and dairy milk, cheese, and butter (A). Any wild-game is great too.
- Wild-Caught Fish and Seafood. Fish should be cold-water (non farmed-raised) salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, sturgeon, shrimp, oysters, tuna, and many others (A).
- Fresh Certified Organic Fruits, Vegetables, Raw Nuts, and Edible Seeds. Choose a wide range of fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, especially berries, citrus, dark green leafy veggies, and bright colored fruits and veggies (A). You could also consider planting your own backyard garden of fresh nutrient-rich fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, “killing 2 birds with one stone”, as the old saying goes. Not only will you be harvesting some of the most healthiest freshest foods available from your garden, but some pretty strenuous and healthy exercise building and maintaining your garden.
- Fresh Whole Grains, High Fiber, Fermented Foods, Herbs, Spices, Oils, and Drinks. Should be certified organic and GMO-free, and gluten-free complex carbs and whole-grains. Use at all meals; natural fermented foods such as kimchi, miso, sauerkraut, natural yogurt, fermented wine; fresh herbs and spices such as basil, oregano, rosemary, turmeric, and cilantro; monounsaturated plant oils like extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil; antioxidant-rich dark chocolate; antioxidants drinks such as espresso, infused fruit water, and fruit smoothies (A).
- Alcohol. Beer or naturally fermented red wine is better for you, but any type is OK as long as it is used in moderation
- Supplement With Natural Nutritious Whole-Food Peruvian Maca. Daily use of the organic whole-food Adapton Peruvian Maca will not only completely nourish your body, but also assist in balancing your Endrocrine System and all your hormones, greatly reducing your symptoms of depression.
Challenge Negative Thinking
Depression places a negative spin on everything in your life, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. When these types of thoughts overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is a symptom of your depression and these irrational, pessimistic attitudes, known as cognitive distortions, aren’t realistic. That’s when it’s time to practice “mindfulness”.
When you really examine negative thoughts, most of the time they are manufactured and really aren’t real, but imagined. But even so, they can be tough to overcome. You can break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of negative thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. According to a Mayo Clinic Study, using positive affirmative statements to your subconscious mind reduces negative self-talk, mentally relieving stress and rates of depression. Checkout this Powerful positive “I AM” morning affirmations video (1) for positive day.
Women tend to ruminate when they are depressed. This includes crying to relieve emotional tension, trying to figure out why you’re depressed, and talking to your friends about your depression. However, rumination has been found to maintain depression and even make it worse, according to an NIH study. The trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression and replace them with a more positive way of thinking.
Negative Thinking That Fuel Depression
Negative thinking is a “red flag” for depression. According to a Case Western Reserve University study, stopping such negative thoughts early on can save millions of people from mental illness.
Clinicians need guidelines and measures to know when negative thinking has reached a tipping point and has begun to spiral into clinical depression,
said Jaclene Zauszniewski, the Kate Hanna Harvey Professor in Community Health Nursing and associate dean for doctoral education at the school, who developed a brief 8-item survey called Depression Cognition Scale (DCS) for use by clinicians. To prevent negative thought in the first place, your goals and thoughts should be realistic and achievable. Here are some example that aren’t:
All-or-nothing thinking. Looking at things in black-or-white categories, with no middle ground, such as “I am a complete failure because I can’t reach perfection.” That’s unrealistic and unachievable.
Over Generalization. Generalizing from a single negative experience, expecting it to hold true forever, such as “I can’t do anything right. ” That’s irrational.
The mental filter. Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. Imagined
Diminishing the positive. Coming up with reasons why positive events don’t count, such as “she said she had a good time on our date, but I think she was just being nice. ” Imagined.
Jumping to conclusions. Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. You act like a mind reader, such as he must think I’m pathetic, or a fortune-teller, such as, “I’ll be stuck in this job forever.” Imagined
Emotional reasoning. Believing that the way you feel reflects reality, such as “I can’t do anything right, I’m really no good.” Unrealistic and imagined.
Labeling. Classifying yourself based on mistakes and perceived shortcomings, such as “I’m a failure, such a loser.” Imagined
Learning To Change the Though Processes
Once you identify all the intricacies of depression and the destructive thought patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:
- “What’s the evidence that this thought is true? Not true?”
- “What would I tell a friend who had this thought?”
- “Is there another way of looking at the situation or an alternate explanation?”
- “How might I look at this situation if I didn’t have depression?”
As you practice being mindful, saying positive affirmations, and are able to cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they disappear. A similar process is “cognitive restructuring” which has been used effectively to treat severe grief and mental disorders like PTSD. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective, begin thinking positively, relieving your stress and, thus, relieving your depression. You might also enjoy reading this article “What’s Emotional Intelligence about.”
What are your thoughts on the National Remedies To Depression? Do you think they can help you? I know you’ll probably have questions, so please address them below, and will get back to you. Your comments are also welcomed.
(A) Follow these links for more in depth information, more documented studies, and to purchase all these incredible nutrient-dense foods for fighting depression.
(1) Jason Stephenson Video