The depression impacts approximately 120 million people worldwide, more women than men but not much difference. The World Health Organization has predicted that depression may become the second most serious illness by 2020, which means that it will cost society in terms of medical care, illness, and lost work days, more than any other condition except heart disease.
The antidepressants are one of the drugs most commonly prescribed of all time, with more than 160 million prescriptions released each year, even though a 2010 study in the Journal of the Medical Association of America revealed that antidepressants are more effective than placebos (sugar pills) in most cases of depression.
Antidepressants have proven useful in the minority of severely depressed cases, and should be used when necessary for these cases.
Studies also show that antidepressants can cause a long list of side effects, including sexual side effects, fertility problems, weight gain and the risk of diabetes, blood pressure problems, increased risk of heart attack, heart defects in the unborn children - even greater desire to suicide.
The advantage of natural antidepressants
The reason antidepressants do not work in most cases of depression is because these drugs target only one aspect of this complex condition: the brain's neurotransmitters "mood molecules." When it "feels good" neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin are low, artificially increasing the levels with medications, it can sometimes help in the minority of the most severe cases.
Unfortunately, depression is a multifactorial problem. While conventional medicine focuses only on neurotransmitters, naturopathic and holistic medications have an advantage in treating the many factors that contribute to depression:
• sleep and lifestyle problems
• lack of exercise
• poor diet options and poor digestion
• inflammation in the body and brain
• hormonal imbalances
• stress and spiritual problems
• nutrient deficiencies and healthy oil
• environmental toxicity
Nutrients in foods as natural antidepressants
There are many wonderful nutrients in foods and botanical (herbal) medicines that can help as natural antidepressants.
Of course, it is very important to remember that if you are not looking at the factors listed above to address the underlying causes of depression, these nutrients in natural foods, in isolation, may not do the trick.
Also, if you are taking antidepressant medications, you should always check with your doctor about the prescription before changing the dose of the medication, or using these supplements together with your medications. These are 5 of the best natural antidepressants:
1. Foods rich in Omega-3 are natural antidepressants
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can be helpful as natural antidepressants. New research shows that when patients with non-concurrent major depression and anxiety disorder were treated with omega-3 supplements, their symptoms were markedly reduced compared to patients treated with placebo.
Other evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, may help protect against the development of depression. This type of diet is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients, that is, the human body cannot manufacture them and we must obtain them from the diet. They are found in high concentrations in fish, especially cold-water fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain, eye, and nerve health. Supplements are available, most often fish oil, but vegetarians can obtain supplements from flax seeds or seaweed.
Although it is almost impossible to get enough Omega-3 to treat depression with food alone (you would need 1-3 grams of Omega-3 a day to improve your mood), eating more fish, such as salmon, can help prevent depression in the first place.
Start by eating at least two meals a week that contain fish. If you don't like fish, add a tablespoon (5 ml) of ground flaxseed, another good source of Omega-3, to your cereal, yogurt or salads daily.
2. Natural antidepressants are in foods high in vitamin B
Most of the research has focused on folate (or folic acid), B6, and B12 because these vitamins are rarely found in people with depression.
Harvard researchers found that between 15% and 38% of people with depression are folate deficient. Although it is not known for sure if this causes depression, we do know that a lack of folate can delay the relief of symptoms from antidepressants.
Vitamin B6: 1.3 to 1.5 mg a day. A cup of chickpea will be enough. Buckwheat flour is another good source. Vitamin B12: 2.4 mcg per day. Folate: 400 mcg per day. A cup of cooked lentils is sufficient, as is a cup of cooked spinach and a glass of orange juice. Asparagus and avocado are also a good source.
3. Amino Acids: Tryptophan
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the metabolic precursor to serotonin. Due to evidence that serotonin deficiency may be an etiological factor in some types of affective disorder and that serotonin is important in sleep biochemistry, L-tryptophan has been suggested as a "rational" anti-depressant.
L-tryptophan may be helpful in mild cases of depression accompanied by endogenous features and cases of bipolar disorder resistant to standard treatments. It also potentiates monoamine oxidase inhibitors and possibly serotonergic tricyclic drugs.
L-tryptophan can improve the depressed mood of parkinsonian patients and has a clinically useful hypnotic action. It is one of the best natural antidepressants.
British researchers found that taking 1,000 mg of tryptophan 3 times a day helped improve mood.
It is not possible to get as much tryptophan as the British researchers used from food alone, so try to include antidepressant foods rich in tryptophan (banana, pomegranate, strawberries, avocado, papaya, mango, orange, date, grapefruit, blueberry, peach, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, salmon, cayenne pepper, sesame, fenugreek, sesame, flax among many more) in your diet.
4. Capsaicin as an antidepressant
Capsaicin is the spicy component of chili or cayenne pepper. The ingestion of chili, a type of hot pepper, or cayenne pepper (ground pepper) increases people's morale because it stimulates the production of endorphins, which are commonly known as "hormones of happiness."
The ginger (Zingiber officinale) is also very rich in this component, so that fresh ginger root can also be added to our meals or infusions.
A part of the antidepressant activity of curcumin (a compound in turmeric) can be attributed to the increase in the level of serotonin that is caused by the compound.
Neurochemical analysis has revealed that curcumin doses increase serotonin levels. This neurotransmitter plays a role in the regulation of mood, sleep, memory, learning, and sexual behaviour.
It is clear that serotonin plays a role in depression, as all of these behaviours are affected to varying degrees in patients with severe depression.
Another way that turmeric fights depression is by increasing the level of dopamine in the brain. But this effect was seen in studies only when the curcumin dose was increased.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects important brain processes that control emotional and movement responses. Recently, dopamine has become the target of many antidepressant drugs.
These drugs are found to be most effective in the presence of curcumin. Turmeric is definitely one of the most effective natural antidepressant foods.
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