Depressive disorder refers to losing the ability to feel joy, having problems with sleep, concentration, appetite, and weight. It is a day to day uphill struggle, bringing to the point where it ‘s hard to get out of bed. Depression consumes our energy; we lose hope, it makes difficult to do what we need to feel better.
The overcoming depressive disorder is neither quick nor easy, but it’s far from impossible.
We can’t just magically command ourselves to “snap out of it,” but we can take more control than we realize. The key is to start small and build from there. Mother nature can help us prevent a depressive period from getting worse, but feeling better takes time.
1. Miraculous Herb: St. John’s Wort (lat. Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s Wort is a plant that contains the magical properties of the sun. Its blossoms radiate robust energy and unbridled cheer.
Taking the herb increases the amount of serotonin which is a feel-good chemical in the brain that’s low in people who suffer from a depressive disorder. The working mechanism of several antidepressants relies on increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. St. John’s worth increases the levels of your happy chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) through its ingredient called hypericin.
You can find St. John’s wort in the form of capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and teas. It’s available at most grocery and health food stores. But note: mother nature works at its pace, you will be able to notice the full effects in about 4 to 6 weeks, so give it time to begin working.
Preparing at home
You can consume St. John’s wort twice or three times a day as a tea made with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried herb or, for more strong effect as a tincture.
How to make a tincture
You will need:
- Glass Jar with lid
- 2-3 oz. Fresh or dried St. John’s Wort (tops or whole herb – enough to fill jar)
- 8 oz. of 90 – 100 proof Vodka (never use rubbing alcohol!)
Chop the herb finely and add it to the jar, cover with vodka. When using fresh herbs, it is better to use higher proof alcohol. Tighten the lid and give it a good shake. Shake the tincture daily. After two weeks strain the liquid from the mixture. Store St. John’s Wort tincture in bottles. The usual dose is one teaspoonful in half a cup of warm water, three times a day. Some may find it better to take St. John’s Wort tincture with meals to avoid stomach upset.
2. Depressive disorder and lack of magnesium
Modern diets are often deficient in magnesium. We are taking the importance of vital mineral too lightly! Magnesium plays a significant role in over 300 enzyme structures regulating a broad range of biochemical functions in the body.
It is the 4th most abundant mineral supplemented through diet, and our body cannot produce it on its own. Magnesium plays a significant role in biochemical reactions like providing energy, synthesizing DNA or RNA, regulating heartbeats, and keeping the chemicals in our brain stable.
Magnesium is the counter-ion for calcium and potassium in muscle cells. Low magnesium levels lead to heart arrhythmias, muscle cramps, and even sudden death! Ion regulation is the most important process in our body with respect to how nerves send signals and muscles contract.
As a home remedy, magnesium is frequently recommended for conditions of feeling anxiety, depression, apathy, insecurity, restlessness, nervousness, and sulkiness.
Stress is a major factor that exhausts magnesium from our body, and we must replenish it.
How to add magnesium in our daily diet?
If you are reluctant in using off-the-shelf supplements, then you can rely on mother nature’s sources of magnesium.
- 1 ounce of dry roasted almonds or cashews (covers 20% of the recommended daily value)
- 1/2 cup of cooked black beans (covers 15% of the recommended daily value)
- 1 medium banana (covers 8% of the recommended daily value)
- 1/2 cup of boiled spinach (covers 20% of the recommended daily value)
- 1 cup of soymilk: (covers 15% of the recommended daily value)
When in doubt, go for the nuts and dark leafy greens, or load up on pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium in addition to healthy fats, both of which can help alleviate your mood. They are also a source of L-tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for the production of serotonin.
Your happiness requires just one generous cup of pumpkin seeds once a day.
3. Folic Acid
Folic acid or folate is a B vitamin that is often deficient with people suffering from the depressive disorder. A study performed at Harvard University has found that people suffering from the depressive disorder and low folate levels don’t react well to prescribed antidepressants. Furthermore, researchers found that taking folic acid supplements has improved the patient’s response and effectiveness of antidepressants.
As we said at the beginning, folic acid and folate are often considered as one and the same, but this is not entirely accurate. Folate is a natural form of vitamin B9 found in a variety of plants, and folic acid is the synthetic form of the same vitamin found in supplements. Mother nature made us more adept at using folate, which is understandable, and we can regulate our levels of folate by releasing excess through the urine.
Where to find folates?
Spinach! Yes, this dark leafy green is rich in folate, so for an immediate boost in folate just consider adding more spinach to your diet. One cup of spinach (approx. 270 mg) account for 65% of your daily needs. Asparagus stands shoulder to shoulder with spinach regarding the folates, and it is also rich in other nutrients like Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A.
Besides dark leafy greens, you can increase the intake of folate by adding other fruits and veggies to your daily diet:
- One papaya = approx. 29% DV
- One orange = 10% DV
- One grapefruit = 8% DV
- Strawberries (1cup) = 6.5% DV
- Raspberries (1cup) = 4% DV
Or some beans, peas, and lentils:
- Lentils (1cup) = 90% DV
- Pinto Beans (1cup) = 74% DV
- Garbanzo Beans (1cup) = 71% DV
- Black Beans (1cup) = 64% DV
- Navy Beans (1cup) = 64% DV
- Kidney Beans (1cup) = 57% DV
- Lima Beans (1cup) = 39% DV
- Split Peas (1cup) = 32% DV
- Green Peas (1cup) = 25% DV
- Green Beans (1cup) = 10% DV
All of these greens should be part of your diet. But what should be avoided?
4. Reduce the Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can both mess up your mood. Alcohol is a depressant. The more you drink, the more you became depressed. Caffeine on the other side stimulates the central nervous system which, as a response can lead to insomnia, increased mood swings and anxiety.
Although some studies sometimes are identifying the positive effects of caffeine on depressive disorders, in general, you don’t want to put more excitement into your nervous system. If you are a caffeine addict suffering from the depressive disorder, you have to consult this matter with your doctor. In the meantime, drink more water!
5. Get fit
Exercises have a significant impact on your mood and state of mind. It’s well known that cardio exercises are increasing endorphins which are our body’s natural mood enhancer. By doing exercises, you also circulate oxygen all over your body. This state is commonly known as “exercise high” and can keep you in a positive mood throughout the day.
Besides cardiovascular workouts, stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates can relieve tightness in your muscles, reduce tension, and have an overall relaxing effect on your body.
Physical activity is increasing your energy, balance, and flexibility. Exercise is a safe and natural way to achieve a positive mood, but just to be on the safe side, check with your physician before starting a new workout program.