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Natural Remedies For Depression – Do They Really Work?
In the US alone depression affects 18 million people every single year. That’s around 5.7% of the population. Teenagers aged 15-19 are particularly at risk with around 20,000 teens annually who attempt to take their own lives. Unfortunately a quarter of these actually succeed. For years depression has been treated using strong medication, however this often leads to side effects and in many cases severe medication dependency. However recently, researchers are investigating whether patients can control their illness by taking natural remedies for depression. So what are these remedies and more importantly do they really work? Lets take a look…
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is in reality a weed that grows in abundance throughout the US and other parts of the world. It has been used by herbalists for centuries in many parts of the world for treating all sorts of ailments, however it has only recently (over the last decade or so) been prescribed for it’s mood improving properties. Studies are still ongoing as to whether or not it really works but some have suggested a marked improvement in patients who are taking it, whilst others suggest it simply acts as a placebo. It’s often taken in dried form in tea, but it can also be found in liquid and pill form. Although St John’s Wort is predominantly safe, there may be some side effects for a small percentage of people such as:
- Restlessness and fatigue
- Slight increase in blood pressure
- Increased sensitivity to the sun – especially in those who are fair skinned
- Upset stomach
Omega 3 is a natural fatty oil found in foods (predominantly fish) and again recent studies have shown that there is some form of correlation between those who regularly eat Omega 3 fatty acids and lower depression levels. The good thing is that there are no known side effects from taking this natural remedy for depression and in addition it has other benefits such as improved cardiovascular health. If you aren’t an oily fish lover, you can find it in multivitamin form which can be purchased from any health food store. Omega 3 can also be found in other foods such as flax seeds but at present there is no link between the oil found in these foodstuffs.
More easily identified as SAM or SAM-e (pronounced sam-ee) it’s a compound that occurs naturally in the body, but it can also be reproduced in the laboratory. In essence, when taken in pill form it is known to increase serotonin levels in the brain that have the affect of reversing a depressed feeling or state. Again there are no known side effects, however if a patient is taking SAM-e alongside other synthetic drugs prescribed for depression then there is a chance that too much serotonin can be created causing shivering, anxiety and in some cases heart problems.
Surprisingly studies have shown that simple meditation techniques can be used to help depression sufferers as it creates a gentle and totally safe way of stimulating the brain and the nervous system. It does this by releasing natural chemicals such as serotonin and DHEA which can both cause remarkable improvements to a person’s overall sense of well-being and psychological make up. In essence, meditation does exactly the same job as drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil do (boosting serotonin levels) except if carried out correctly can be done naturally.
Depression is undoubtedly a serious illness that can affect any one of us and as a result it should never be taken lightly. Professional evaluations are critical but you may want to think about alternative remedies similar to the ones listed above instead of relying solely on manufactured drugs. There is a whole world of alternative natural remedies for depression coming to the fore and this is really only the tip of the iceberg. Many medical practitioners are undecided as to whether or not natural remedies actually work, but it is fair to say that far more are becoming open to the prospect than they once were, and this has to be promising.