It’s that time of year again where the come down after the excitement of Christmas as well as the dark mornings and evenings have us all feeling a little bit down.
The extent of how badly the winter blues affects us varies from person to person and some people will find they are suffering from clinical depression.
Depression and mental health is still a stigma in Ireland and is still not being talked about and discussed as openly as it should be.
If you’re feeling like your mood is lower than normal and you need something to boost it a bit we have a few natural recommendations that you can try first. These natural alternatives are actually quite powerful and studies have shown that they have helped achieve remission in many patients with clinical depression.
Rhodiola Rosea also known as “golden root” is an adaptogen herb with tremendous fat burning, energy enhancing and brain boosting power.
Adaptogens are a group of plants that can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, and environmental stress and rhodiola is one of the most effective in this family.
Another amazing benefit of supplementing with rhodiola is it’s been shown to improve the health of your brain and fight depression.
Rhodiola increases the sensitivity of your neurons (cells of your brain and nervous system) including two neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters are known for increasing focus, memory, pleasure, and improving mood.
Many doctors of functional medicine prescribe rhodiola as an effective alternative to anti-depressant medications. This works because rhodiola increases dopamine sensitivity which has been shown to improve mood and also help fight food cravings and addictions.
In a clinical trial with 150 individuals suffering from depression, participants were given rhodiola rosea for one month. At the end of the trial two-thirds of the group had full remission of depression symptoms and daytime weakness had also greatly improved.
Also, some physicians have started recommending rhodiola for ADD and ADHD because of it’s ability to improve focus. (www.draxe.com)
2. Vitamin D
We’ve said time and time again, everyone, especially those living on our lovely green isle, NEED to supplement with Vitamin D as we simply do not get enough of it no matter how good our summers are. Low levels of Vitamin D have been shown to be linked to Depression in many studies so supplementing with this important Vitamin is essential.
3. Omega-3 Fatty acids
Already well known for their ability to protect against heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may be highly effective in preventing and managing depression, according to a growing body of evidence.
Consuming plenty of omega-3 fatty acids may offer powerful protection against depression. A large Norwegian study of nearly 22,000 participants revealed that those who regularly took cod liver oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, were about 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression than those who did not. The longer the participants took cod liver oil, the less likely they were to have high levels of depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also help improve mood in those who already suffer from depression. In a recent study at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation was studied in 49 patients with repeated episodes of harming themselves. In addition to standard psychiatric care, study subjects were randomly assigned to receive 1200 mg EPA plus 900 mg DHA, or placebo, for 12 weeks. At the end of the treatment period, the group receiving omega-3 fatty acids had significantly greater improvements compared with the placebo group in scores for depression, suicidality and daily stresses.
Furthermore, other studies suggest that people who are still depressed despite use of antidepressant medications may have reduced intensity of depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction when supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids. (www.lifeextension.com)
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in raw nuts such as almonds and walnuts as well as oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. They are also abundant in seeds such as Chia or Flax seeds.
Yes, we all know we need to be exercising and everyone sets about making their new year’s resolutions to go the gym or start running but exercise is important for your overall health and physical and mental well being .. not just your waist line.
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, of the United Kingdom, exercise increases brain serotonin function in humans. A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology revealed that there are two mechanisms by which physical activity increases brain serotonin. First, motor activity increases the rate and frequency at which serotonin is “fired” within the brain, resulting in an increase in both the release and synthesis of it. Secondly, regular exercise increases the level of tryptophan in the brain (an amino acid used to manufacture serotonin). The exact mechanism is not clearly understood; however, it is clear that aerobic exercise improves mood through increasing brain serotonin levels. Aerobic exercise examples include running, cycling and swimming.
If you are suffering from low moods please speak to your pharmacist, doctor or a family member or friend about it.