Coping with Clinical Depression: A Naturopathic Approach
You're feeling depressed. We hear it on the internet, in songs and books and from friends. At first it was just a joke, just an excuse to explain why "you look so tired", or to get out of participating in social events and seeing people. Then it began to reach into days, weeks, months, and eventually it becomes this never-ending cycle of exhaustion, disappointment and sickness. If you find it difficult to get out of bed, eating too much or eating too less, unable to work, study or socialize, and the beauty of things you used to enjoy have lost their flavor, that's when you know it's the genuine, nightmarish reality of clinical depression.
Seeing a psychiatrist may be a step in the right direction. However, from personal experience, the response is usually very standard: antidepressants. Cipralex, Celexa, Prozac, Seroxat. You name it. Talking to the therapist may help, but again that depends on the quality of the therapist. Antidepressants, while great if you need instant results, come with severe side effects, are difficult to wean off, and patients are usually dependent on them for day to day living. Again, this will vary from person to person, and from case to case.
Clinical depression is described in simple terms as serotonin deficiency - there is just too little of the happy little neurotransmitter to go around and keep you wide-eyed and positive. Logically, this implies that to fight depression we need to increase serotonin naturally or by inhibiting serotonin reuptake, which is what anti-depressants do.
Therefore, I bring you the step-by-step guide to getting out of depression, what helped me naturally and what helped others I know in the long-run, without taking a single "chill pill":
Formulating a routine: while this might not be a direct answer to cure depression, it will lead to steps which will naturally boost serotonin and overall mood. Eating clean, sleeping, exercising, talking to loved ones, maintaining proper hygiene and productivity is essential to getting out of the black hole that is depression. Easier said than done, sadly.
Waking up and sleeping accordingly, for at least 7 hours a day, is essential. However, for some victims of depression, this can be a real challenge. Taking melatonin supplements can help restart your body's Circadian rhythm and give your body time to heal up and feel good.
Eating clean is equally as important. A diet rich in protein, healthy fats, greens and carbs is important for the well-being of your mind and soul. Foods which are known to boost serotonin are coconut oil by the spoonful, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and seafoods, and chocolate of course. An excellent choice of chocolate would be 75-85% dark chocolate; indulge mindfully.
Meditation clears up the mind and encourages excellent oxygen exchange.
Exercising for at least 1 hour a week is ultimately the most important rule of all. Exercising releases natural endorphins and boosts mood without you even realizing it. Focus on breathing, proper form, hydration and keeping your pulse running, and you'll notice a difference in less than a week. Challenging your body and mind to something new is a direct blow to depression. Set a goal for about 15 minutes a day of light cardio, yoga or resistance training, and move on from there.
Mood-enhancing over-the-counter supplements to combat depression can be...
Clinically proven supplements include vitamins B and D intake, producing a noticeable difference in depressed patients, as well as magnesium. These 3 form a power team and have had wonderful first-hand and clinical results. Consult your physician for the correct dosage and duration.
St John's Wort: often combined with Vitamins B and D, St John's Wort is nature's handpicked antidepressant. Consulting a physician is important before starting these however, as they can react poorly with other medications and can decrease the effect of birth control pills.
Herbal teas: why are teas so great? They keep you hydrated, relax you ultimately and set you into a routine with time. Green tea contains polyphenols which help regulate brain and bodily functions, smooth muscle contractions and glucose metabolism. Peppermint tea, lemon balm and chamomile appear to be great alternative choices too, however there are few studies backing them up apart from positive subjective experiences.