Alternatives Proven to Work
If you are suffering from depression, but would prefer to try
something natural before going the traditional pharmaceutical
route, here are some remedies that have stood up to rigorous testing.
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy seeks to help people change how
they think about things. Unlike more traditional forms of therapy,
it focuses on here and now problems and difficulties.
Numerous clinical studies throughout the world have consistently
demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy is as effective
as antidepressant medication. Within 20 sessions of individual
therapy, approximately 75 percent of patients experience a significant
decrease in their symptoms.
2. St Johns wort
St Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum) is commonly used for
the treatment of depression. It is available in tablets, capsules
and liquid form from supermarkets and health food shops. Research
suggests that it exerts its antidepressant action by inhibiting
the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine,
and dopamine. Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled studies
have examined the effectiveness of St. Johns wort for the
treatment of mild to moderate major depression, and most have
found the herb more effective than a placebo. It can be at least
as effective as paroxetine (Paxil) in the treatment of moderate
to severe depression in the short term.
3. S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all
cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring
its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic
amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful
in the treatment of depression.
4. Light Therapy
For years, light therapy has been used to treat seasonal affective
disorder, a type of depression caused by short winter days and
extended darkness. A lack of exposure to sunlight is responsible
for the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which can trigger
a dispirited mood and a lethargic condition. Light therapy helps
to regulate the bodys internal clock in the same way that
sunlight does. Light therapy is an effective treatment for seasonal
affective disorder, and it may reduce the symptoms of non-seasonal
depression as well.
Researchers have found that regular exercise, and the increase
in physical fitness that results, alters serotonin levels in the
brain and leads to improved mood and feelings of wellbeing. Study
after study has shown that exercise promotes mental health and
reduces symptoms of depression. The antidepressant effect of regular
physical exercise is comparable to potent antidepressants like
6. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and tryptophan are also natural alternatives
to traditional antidepressants. When your body sets about manufacturing
serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement
may raise serotonin levels. The evidence suggests 5-HTP and tryptophan
are better than a placebo at alleviating depression.
One of the best-known benefits of massage therapy is its ability
to enhance feelings of well-being. Massage produces chemical changes
in the brain that result in a feeling of relaxation and calm.
It also reduces levels of stress hormones. Massage therapy lowers
levels of stress hormone cortisol by an average of 30 percent.
Massage also increases serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters
that help reduce depression.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese treatment in which needles
are inserted at specific points in the body. Research suggests
that acupuncture can decrease or eliminate the symptoms of depression.
A review of 8 controlled trials supported the theory that acupuncture
can significantly reduce the severity of depression.
9. Yoga & Meditation
Yoga is an ancient system of relaxation, exercise, and healing
with origins in Indian philosophy. Practicing yoga can alter your
brain chemistry. Some yoga positions are effective in stimulating
the release of endorphins and reducing the level of stress hormone
cortisol. Several human studies support the use of yoga for depression,
and yoga postures have been specifically shown to increase levels
of the neurotransmitter GABA, which may alleviate depression.
10. B Vitamins
B vitamins play a role in the production of certain neurotransmitters,
which are important in regulating mood and other brain functions.
Folic acid deficiency has been noted among people with depression.
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is the cofactor for enzymes that convert
L-tryptophan to serotonin, so vitamin B6 deficiency might result
in depression. And there is some evidence that people with depression
respond better to treatment if they have higher levels of vitamin