Natural antidepressants are very successful in treating and managing mild depression and being a preventative for people at risk of depression. This could be through family history, previous episodes of depression, experience of stress or trauma and as a result of major unplanned changes in life circumstances.
Always consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of depression, and, depending on the severity of your condition, medication may be the most appropriate course of action.
Natural antidepressants are non-drug strategies that work with medication and assist in recovery to be free of medication at the right time, or to prevent you needing medication. They give you the power to control your health. Dr Mehta in Harvard Men’s Health Watch (February 2019) identified the four most important natural antidepressants.
- Moderate intensity aerobic activity 3 or more times per week – this doesn’t have to be the gym, it can be anything that involves regular movement and build up your heart rate.
- Reducing (eliminating?) refined sugars, soft drink and processed food – these are all feel-good foods that give a short term high, then a low that makes you crave more. Carry fruit or nuts with you to stave off temptation.
- Express gratitude – writing down what you appreciate about life increases activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the brain region often associated with depression. This can be as simple as a matching outfit to wear, lack of rain so you can walk to work, or a kind gesture from someone else. It is the act of feeling appreciation that matters, not the cause of it.
- Social connection – this is more difficult when you are feeling depressed so look for connections around one of your passions, or a team sport such as tennis, which has the added benefit of contributing to regular movement.
Neuroscience and natural antidepressants
There is so much happening in the world of neuroscience! Links are being made between brain activity, the ability of the brain to adopt different patterns or learn new functional connections. Coming out of this science is increasing evidence of the power of mindfulness. It is one of the key activities that help us to build contentment.
In Uncovering Happiness (Mindful magazine April 2015) E Goldstein identifies his top five top practices to be happier, to recover from or to pre-empt depression and anxiety.
- Mindfulness: a flexible and unbiased state of mind where you are open and curious about what is present, you have perspective and are aware of choices.
- Self- compassion: lets you understand your own suffering and use mindfulness, kindness, and openness to be non-judgmental about your situation and to see it as part of the human condition.
- Purpose: you are actively engaged in living with your values, have compassion for others and an understanding of how your existence contributes value to the world.
- Play: a flexible state of mind where you engage in some freely chosen activity whose purpose is to be interesting, enjoyable and satisfying.
- Mastery: a sense of personal control and confidence and means we are engaged in learning to get better and better at something that matters.
 E Goldstein is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona.
ACT not only helps those employees who are showing high levels of psychological distress, it also helps those who report no significant problems.
If you want additional support, ACT Curious EAP can connect you to a behavioral therapist that meets your needs. You can get started today if ACT Curious EAP is offered by your employer.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Trudgen Director, ACT Curious EAP.
copyright: 19 February 2019