Depression is a common problem that affects up to 8 million Americans. It can range in severity from mild feelings of being “blue” to a debilitating condition that affects work and social life. When considering a treatment for depression, take the possibility of side effects into account.
Severe depression requires professional mental health treatment, but minor depression can often be treated with supplements that regulate mood and have little to no side effects.
The supplements and foods below are safe to use and come from a long tradition of curing depression naturally.
St. John’s Wort
It is commonly called St. John’s wort because it flowers and is generally harvested on St. John’s day, June 24th.
It is used in some European countries for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, particular in children and adolescents because of its absence of side effects.
It is thought to work by inhibiting the re-uptake of certain neurotransmitter chemicals in the body.
In some countries, a prescription is required for its use. A number of studies support its effectiveness for mild depression.
St. John’s wort is available in capsules and tablets. Some people use it in the form of a tincture or in a tea.
S-adenosylmethionine, usually shortened to SAM-e, occurs naturally in plant cells, animal cells and human cells. However, it is a compound that is produced in decreased amounts as people age. It is known to have effects on mood and is used in Europe to aid in the relief of minor depression.
Many people who are depressed have been shown to have decreased levels of folate in their bodies.
Eating folic acid rich foods is recommended for those who suffer from minor depression. These foods include oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, spinach and turnip greens are all high in folic acid. High amounts of folic acid are also found in fortified cereals and grains.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is an amino acid naturally found in the human body that serves to inhibit certain neurotransmitter chemicals that excite the nervous system. Low GABA levels have been observed in people suffering from depression.
Studies show that the compound can help with anxiety, though not as conclusively with depression. GABA supplements are often taken to provide a calming effect.
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are found in fish, olive oil and walnuts. Those people suffering from depression have been found to have lower levels of these fatty acids in their blood. Omega-3 supplements are also available for those who cannot consume sufficient amounts in their diets.