We all feel blue from time to time, but if you’re consistently down in the dumps and you can’t think why, you might be one of around 10 percent of Americans suffering from depression.
The good news is that pharmaceutical help is available; antidepressants like Fluoxetine, Citalopram and Sertraline are among the most widely prescribed medications for depression.
The bad news is that these powerful, mind-altering drugs — despite their proven efficacy and relative safety — come with a laundry list of unpleasant side effects, such as anxiety, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, insomnia, weight gain, and even impotency.
Remember that depression can be a very serious condition. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and before changing medicines or taking dietary supplements.
If you’re struggling with depression but concerned about these side effects, you might be looking for a natural alternative. Here’s a list of three:
St. John’s Wort
The yellow flowering herb Hypericum perforatum, more commonly known as St. John’s Wort, has long been recognized as a natural antidepressant.
Used for centuries as a folk remedy for melancholy, St. John’s Wort has been found in clinical trials to act on the brain in much the same way as the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) generally prescribed by doctors — but without the nasty side effects.
In 2017, a large-scale scientific meta-analysis of 27 studies that tested St. John’s Wort as an antidepressant concluded that the traditional herbal remedy is just as effective as SSRIs in treating mild to moderate depression, while an even more recent review of 26 meta-analyses found that St. John’s Wort had significantly fewer adverse effects.
Many a chef relies on the fragrant, crimson-colored spice harvested from the saffron crocus to improve soups and stews, but can it improve your mental health too? Research suggests that it can.
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis carried out by a team of Italian and Iranian scientists in 2018, saffron showed clinical results similar to those of the antidepressant drug Fluoxetine, and should therefore be considered as “a suitable and safer alternative to Fluoxetine.”
Studies are ongoing, but the results so far are encouraging. Just last year, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial, in which patients with type 2 diabetes were given 100mg of Saffron daily for 8 weeks, found that the spice not only “significantly” improved depression, but also “sleep quality and overall quality of life”!
This bright yellow powder derived from turmeric — another spice — is a relative newcomer among clinically-studied natural antidepressants, but the authors of a recent article in the peer-reviewed Planta Medica journal think it’s one of the three most promising potential alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs for treating depression. (The other two are St. John’s Wort and Saffron!)
Three new Curcumin extracts have already been approved by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe,” and a scientific review of human trials published earlier this year noted that Curcumin has been well tolerated, with mild to no side effects. Of the seven trials reviewed, six reported “positive antidepressant effects.”
Another, broader review of 65 preclinical studies and 15 clinical trials and open-label studies between 2005 and 2021 found that “results were positive in reducing psychiatric deficits” in a whole range of mental health disorders, from depression to schizophrenia.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects millions of Americans, and while there are pharmaceutical drugs generally considered safe and effective in treating it, plant-based remedies are increasingly popular as natural alternatives with fewer side effects.
Even so, you should always consult your doctor before taking herbal remedies for depression, especially if you’re already on medication or have a pre-existing medical condition.
If you are suicidal, dial 988 or visit The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.) It is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the United States.
Depression is a complex condition with many and often more than one cause. Yes, if it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, vitamins and naturopathy can help. But first, one must find out WHAT the cause is first.
Depression is serious; it can ruin lives. Lives of the sufferers and those around them and isn’t to be treated lightly.
According to the latest report, depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance but rather stresses and environmental factors. No evidence has been made showing serotonin uptake inhibitors to benefit patients. Rather they do real well for the drug companies and doctors who treat patients without having any conscience about the harm they are doing. You like having side effects like tardive disconeasia that can be permanent and life threatening, then you take them. I am not going to be a victim of big pharma any longer as long as I can help it. I got diabetes from serotonin uptake inhibitors. How am I better off now? Am I less depressed now I have tardive d? No, but the stock holders are not suffering as record profits rush into their bank accounts. Thanks doc, for being a company man and for forsaken your hypocratic oath. That’s sarcasm.
Oh what’s that? You’re suffering from a depression that was probably caused by traumas in your life that eat you from inside for years ?
Here , have some goddamn flowers and spices.
Psychiatry is a joke, don’t take the prescription meds unless you want to be permanently crazy.
So you are saying mental health is a joke???
Drug companies have everyone fooled. The report this one had accompanied said that chemical imbalances in the brain is not the cause of depression. Rather stresses and environmental factors. In fact antidepressant can often cause depression especially after the side effects have caused diabetes or tardive discaneasia which can be life threatening and permanent. The drug companies have profited in the trillions of dollars pushing drugs and there board of directors are far more evil then any drug pusher selling herion on a street corner. Many home remedies and traditional herbs are doing wonders but are villafied by drug companies because they see them as competition. Drugs your doctors are trying to get you to take can be the end of a long time of suffering or just the beginning. Profits are so high, trust has to be earned at the risk of your life. The company directors have rules, they can’t stop profits for there stock holders by preventing harm by notifying the patient of the true danger and if they’d be better off taking something like CBD or lemon balm.