Natural Treatments for Depression
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A lot of natural remedies are safer, more reliable and have fewer side effects than antidepressants. Some can be taken alongside your prescribed antidepressants and can enhance your recovery while you are taking your currently prescribed antidepressant and help reduce the likelihood of experiencing another depressive episode if you have suffered in the past.
The standard treatment for all types of depression is antidepressant drugs. If you are currently experiencing a depressive episode, and you have sought medical help for your symptoms, the chances are that you will now be taking antidepressants. Most psychiatrists find that while drugs can be life-saving in the short term, they become unnecessary with the right combination of nutrients and psychological support. Nebraska Recovery Centres. By looking at the case simultaneously from Chinese and Western perspectives, both from orthodox and from the complementary medicine viewpoints, doctors are more likely to arrive at the correct formulation of the case than by using one modality alone.
Because of all the problems relating to powerful drugs including unpleasant side-effects, researchers have sought natural alternatives for many years. Herbal remedies look back at the plant substances that have been used in the past in relation to mood disorders and to psychological therapies that address the emotional problems thought to be a substantial trigger in depressive illness.
As a result there are now a number of other natural treatments for depression which have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly for mild and moderate depressive symptoms where people are reluctant to risk a course of antidepressants. Depression is an area where Alternative Medicine has excellent solutions. These are truly nutritional treatments for depression, and rather than having side effects, they enhance general health.
Diet and Essential Fatty Acids
The most natural treatment for depression is diet. The combination of optimum nutrition and psychotherapy works wonders for a wide variety of mental health problems, from depression to schizophrenia. How you think and feel is directly affected by what you eat. This idea may seem strange, yet the fact is that eating the right food has been proven to boost your mood and emotional stability, your IQ, sharpen your memory and keep your mind young.
The gut for example, produces two-thirds of the body’s serotonin, the ‘happy’ neurotransmitter. So in essence, you’re feeding two brains. Every time you eat something it sends signals to the brain because the gut and the brain are in permanent communication. This is why the right foods can make you happy and the wrong foods can make you feel anxious or depressed.
Your brain is 60% fat, if you take out all the water. This fatty tissue needs replenishing, but it’s crucial to know which fats will feed your brain the best. There are good fats and bad fats. Some fats are not only positively good for you, they are absolutely vital for mental health. Not only do you need them to stay free from disease and depression, but dyslexia, ADD, fatigue, memory problems, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia have all been linked to deficiency – you also need them in optimal amounts if you want to maximise your intelligence. No more than 1/3 of your fat intake should be saturated (hard) fat, and at least 1/3 should be polyunsaturated oils providing the two essential fat families, omega-3 and omega-6. These two should be in balance, 1:1, which is the ratio our pre-industrial Revolution ancestors achieved. Nowadays, an average balance is more like 1:20 in favour of omega-6. This imbalance can also contribute to mental health problems. Most people are deficient in both omega-3 and omega-6. In addition, a high intake of saturated and damaged polyunsaturated fats, known as ‘trans’ fats stops the body from making good use of the little essential fat the average person does eat in a day.
Omega-3s regulate the release and performance of neurotransmitters in the brain, and low levels are known to be involved in depression and schizophrenia. Omega 3 makes prostaglandins, extremely active hormone-like substances that relax blood vessels and so lower blood pressure, help maintain water balance in the body, boost immunity, decrease inflammation and pain, and help insulin to work - which is good for blood sugar balance.
Saturated and monounsaturated fat and cholesterol can be made in the body, but omegas have to be topped up through diet.
Eat seeds and nuts – the best are flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame. You get more goodness out of them by grinding them first and sprinkling them on cereal, soups and salads.
Eat coldwater carnivorous fish- a serving of herring, mackerel, salmon or fresh tuna two or three times a week provides a good source of omega-3 fats.
Use cold-pressed seed oils – either choose an oil blend or hemp oil for salad dressings or other cold uses, such as drizzling on vegetables instead of butter.
Minimise your intake of fried food, processed food and saturated fat from meat and dairy.
Supplement fish oil for omega-3 fats and starflower or evening primrose oil for omega-6 fats.
Patrick Holford recommends:
A tablespoon of ground seeds – most days (5 out of 7)
Cold-pressed seed oil blend – on salad dressings and on vegetables
Coldwater carnivorous fish – twice a week
EPA/DHA/GLA supplement – once a day.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a derivative of a naturally occurring essential fatty acid (EFA). The richest source of this omega-3 fatty acid is oily fish, including salmon, tuna (not tinned), mackerel, pilchards and sardines. Ethyl-EPA as is found in Vegepa is a highly purified form of EPA which can deliver a higher dose than you would get from just eating oily fish. EPA is a substance that nurtures our brains at a fundamental level to prevent and cure depression.
Does it work?
Clinical studies have proven the benefit of fish oil in depression.
EPA can significantly alleviate the symptoms of depression even in its most severe form.
Scientific studies are both rigorous and conclusive about the benefits of EPA. Research is backed up by the use of advanced brain-scanning techniques which highlight the extraordinary benefits this substance has on regenerating the brain.
In a large trial, EPA was given to patients with schizophrenia. ¾ of the patients had been given EPA in varying doses, while the others were given a placebo, which is a pill containing no medication. It was a double blind trial, meaning that neither the doctor administering the treatment nor the patient receiving it, knew who was being given EPA and who the placebo.
Patients suffering from schizophrenia are often depressed and one of the most striking things from the study was that the symptoms of depression cleared in many of the patients taking EPA. This had led Professor K. Puri, a Consultant in Psychiatry and Imaging at Hammersmith Hospital and Imperial College London, to think about using EPA as a treatment for depression. He is a leading expert in the use of EPA for depression and has been involved in medical research for over 12 years. His papers have been widely published in international journals and he has written several books. Prof. Puri endorses Vegepa since it is exactly the formulation he wanted to use for his patients. He still takes it himself to this day. Click here to read more about the unique Omega 3 fish oil Vegepa.
EPA can be taken alongside your current antidepressant medication to speed your recovery. (Do not take with anticoagulant medication).
EPA works on depressive symptoms as quickly as antidepressant drugs, often more quickly.
EPA, if taken regularly, reduces the likelihood of your depression recurring.
What are the Side Effects?
There are no adverse side effects with EPA.
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