Alternative Treatments for Depression – What You Should Know

Alternative Treatments for Depression – What You Should Know

Alternative Treatments for Depression
Alternative Treatments for Depression

Alternative Treatments for Depression

For some, seeking alternative treatments for their depression is an attempt to avoid drugs, or it may be part of the person’s preference for natural treatments in general. But just because a treatment is natural does not mean it’s the best choice for you, or that it is automatically safe. Here are some of the more popular alternative treatments for depression and what you should know about them.

St. John’s Wort

Have you heard of this herb? It’s commonly sold in capsules or tinctures, and is touted as a treatment for mild or moderate depression.

Strengths:
St. John’s Wort is prescribed in Europe, where studies have shown the herb to be effective even for major depression. Many other, smaller studies have continued to show St. John’s Wort as an effective treatment for depression.

Concerns:
People with depression may not know if their condition is mild, moderate, or severe. They may underestimate the severity of their depression and take St. John’s Wort when they may need something stronger. Also, the results of larger, placebo-controlled studies conflict with the smaller studies, indicating there may not be much of an effect from St. John’s Wort, particularly regarding major depression.

SAM-e

This is an abbreviated form of a much longer word, S-adenosylmethionine. SAM-e occurs naturally in the body, but a synthetic form can be purchased as a supplement.

Strengths:
This is considered a promising supplement by various sectors in the medical community. It is involved in the function of several neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

Concerns:
SAM-e is extremely expensive. Also, it can have side effects if people take it in conjunction with another antidepressant – too much serotonin could result. Some sources claim it may cause nausea and constipation. You can’t get SAM-e from food sources.

Omega-3s

These increasingly popular fatty acids are implicated in the alleviation of depression symptoms. Foods like caviar, salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds all have these healthy fats.

Strengths:
Omega-3s can be found in both food sources and supplement form. They are involved in nearly all body processes; some experts say they are involved in every cell of the body. Both manic and clinical depression may be helped by these important fats.

Concerns:
There really are no major concerns associated with the consumption of Omega-3s as an alternative treatment for depression, unless depressed individuals take Omega-3 supplements instead of medications they need, or quit medications cold turkey and start with Omega-3s.

As you look into alternative treatments for your depression or that of a loved one, make sure you do your research. Even if an alternative therapy is safe and effective, it may not be enough as a sole treatment. It’s important to work with your health care provider to make sure the depression is treated effectively.

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The Dangers of Depression

The Dangers of Depression

The Dangers of Depression
The Dangers of Depression

The Dangers of Depression…
There are definite dangers associated with depression. It can affect nearly all ages, with some groups and demographics being more susceptible than others (women are more likely to develop depression than men, for example, and teens are said to be more prone to depression than adults). Depression can even be fatal, warn medical professionals; and it’s not just the disorder that poses risks. Medications can also present their own list of risky side effects.

Here are some of the dangers commonly associated with depression.

Suicide

This may be the “ultimate” danger associated with depression – it’s considered by many to be the most extreme manifestation of the disorder. Depressed people may convince themselves that they just aren’t worth enough to live, or that their friends and family will be better off without them. Warning signs of suicide include:

* Preoccupation with death – person constantly talks about death or conducts extensive research into the afterlife, methods of suicide, and other related subjects

* Gathering belongings and giving them away

* Cleaning out and “getting things in order” for no apparent reason

* Continual speaking about death, the afterlife, or other similar things

Loss of Job and Income

Depression can be debilitating. The depressed person feels worthless and unmotivated, and may call in sick frequently or not show up for work. They may be late or be unable to face difficulties during the workday. Depression can cause a person to be indecisive and unable to concentrate, which could be extremely dangerous in certain types of work (such as construction or factory work that requires a worker to be alert to avoid injury to him/herself or others).

Losing a job may then exacerbate the person’s depression, and the loss of income could affect the amount of medical attention and medication he or she is able to afford.

Medications

While medication can save lives, it can also pose serious and/or dangerous side effects. Antidepressants tend to have fewer side effects than SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), but antidepressants may, ironically, induce suicidal thoughts.

Several years ago, a popular antidepressant was called on the carpet for indirectly causing the actual suicides of many people who took it. SSRIs may cause bad headaches, temporary or chronic diarrhea, insomnia, nausea, and/or nervousness and agitation.

Self-Neglect

Depressed people have a tendency to neglect their own health and care. They may not have the energy or focus to keep their homes clean, eat well, or care for their body. Because of this self-neglect, depressed individuals may be more susceptible to illness.

More serious illnesses may go untreated because the depressed person just can’t cope with the idea of having a serious illness and therefore he or she doesn’t seek help or treatment.

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Living with Depression – Life’s Not Over

Living with Depression – Life’s Not Over

Living with Depression
Living with Depression

For those living with depression, every day can be a challenge. For family members of depressed people, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do, and you may feel like you’re walking on eggshells. Understanding depression can go a long way in helping deal with this illness, and there are some coping tips that may help. Here are some suggestions.

Get the Best Treatment

The first step for a depressed person is to get treatment – but it’s equally important to get the best treatment, say experts. This means taking the time to get the help you need, or helping your depressed family member get optimal help.

Include Family in Therapy

While the depressed individual may not want family members present in every counseling or therapy session, it may be a good idea to include family members at least some of the time. The therapist can then see a slice of the family dynamic, and the family members can gain a better understanding of the issue. Some family members are more likely to believe a therapist’s “take” on things than take the depressed person’s word for it.

Including family may also help other family members to better understand how to treat the depressed individual, and what things they can say or do to support the depressed person.

Parents of Teens

Because teenagers are a high-risk group for developing depression, sources say, the parents of teens may benefit from some tips on living with a depressed teen. Here are some suggestions.

* Develop a tough skin. Teens who are depressed may yell at you to leave them alone, to go away, or to stop talking to them. For teens, this may be a sort of test of your parenting – the teen may be testing to see if you care enough to press through the anger and continue trying to reach them. Parents who truly do care may miss this aspect and just give up after being yelled at. Instead, remember it’s not personal and your teen still needs you.

* Listen. Busy parents often forget to listen, and how important it is. Parents sometimes need to stop running and take a break to listen and talk. A parent-teen “date” or retreat can help – maybe a mother-daughter shopping trip or father-son fishing excursion.

* Encourage your depressed teen to problem solve. As parents, we just want their struggles to go away; but giving them the tools to cope is a gift that will last a lifetime. It’s okay to help, encourage, and prompt your teen; but experts say your goal as a parent is to get their brains working on solving their own problems.

Nurture Relationships

As a depressed person, it may be hard to maintain friendships. But supportive friends are important for your depression management and coping. Try to make a point of nurturing these relationships; it will help you break out of yourself and focus on someone else.

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Natural Treatments for Depression

Natural Treatments for Depression

Natural Treatments for Depression
Natural Treatments for Depression

Natural Treatments for Depression
If you suffer from mild to moderate depression, you may be interested in natural treatments. Even cases of severe depression may benefit from natural remedies in conjunction with medication.

Natural treatments run the gamut from supplements to lifestyle changes to alternative therapy. Here are some natural treatments that may help this disorder.

Dietary Adjustments

Natural health experts generally agree that diet is important in managing depression symptoms. Some dietary changes you can make include:

* Eat nutrient-dense foods. This helps make sure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs for proper brain function. Fresh produce, nuts, and whole grains tend to be rich in vital nutrients.

* EFAs, or essential fatty acids, may help boost mood in depressed individuals. EFAs can be found in healthy oils like olive or safflower, and in fish and nuts.

* Cut back on refined white sugar and corn syrup. These refined sweeteners tend to cause blood sugar spikes and slumps, which contribute to the symptoms of depression.

* Eat whole foods, such as whole grains and fresh produce. This not only provides depressed individuals with much-needed, healthy carbs; it also minimizes artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from the diet. These artificial substances may contribute to depression in some individuals.

Chiropractic and other Body-Oriented Treatments

These alternative therapies seem to be gaining acceptance among medical experts. Techniques like chiropractic adjustments, massage, acupuncture, and others may help relieve depression symptoms. This may have to do with improving circulation or the elimination of toxins from the tissues of the body. Other body treatments include:

* Dance therapy
* Acupressure
* Martial arts
* Yoga

Exercise

Working out daily can be hard even if you don’t have depression. But it’s even more important if you do – exercise has been shown to help relieve symptoms of depression. This may be due to the ability of exercise to boost brain chemicals that make you feel happy. Exercise brings balance to your life, balancing activity and rest; a balanced lifestyle itself can be very helpful in dealing with depression.

Most sources are consistent in pointing out that exercise need not be strenuous, but that it should be regular – 30 to 60 minutes a day for 3 to 6 days a week.

Supplements

A good vitamin and mineral supplement that is high in B12 and B6 is said to be good for alleviating depression. Magnesium is another mineral that tends to be deficient in many people, and that is important for proper nerve and muscle function. You may also find that supplements of evening primrose oil, flax oil, or fish oil will help your mood.

Herbal supplements have sometimes been used with success. St. John’s Wort is probably the best-known herb that may combat depression. Others include ginseng, valerian root, and chamomile. Chamomile can be drunk as a tea, as can another tasty sedative herb – lemon balm.

Always check with your doctor before supplementing with any herbs to avoid any adverse drug/herb interactions. And if you know a qualified herbalist, you can get advice from him or her, too.

If you suffer from mild to moderate depression, you may be interested in natural treatments. Even cases of severe depression may benefit from natural remedies in conjunction with medication.

Natural treatments run the gamut from supplements to lifestyle changes to alternative therapy. Here are some natural treatments that may help this disorder.

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Treatment Options for Depression

Treatment Options for Depression

Treatment Options for Depression
Treatment Options for Depression

Depression is different for different people. It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to work out a suitable treatment that fits your needs. Here are some of the treatment options your doctor may discuss with you. Treatment Options for Depression

Pharmaceuticals

There are various drugs available that are used to treat depression. It’s a good idea to be as detailed as you can in sharing your symptoms with your doctor, because he or she will base your medication on these symptoms. All depression medications are not the same; they are specifically designed to treat certain symptoms. In cases of severe depression, medication is often needed to enable the patient to seek other forms of treatment.

One thing to keep in mind is that it may not be a good idea to rely on medication alone. Most sources agree that you should seek other forms of treatment in addition to your medication. One final point on medicines for depression – if you don’t like the side effects or think you’re “all better now” and don’t need them, don’t just stop taking them on your own.

Psychotherapy

For depression that is mild or moderate, psychotherapy can help a great deal. Professional psychotherapists work with depressed people to help them talk things out and focus on the thought processes and habits that contribute to the patient’s depression. Psychotherapists sort of “explain” the depression to the patient so it seems less frightening and overwhelming; they help the patient gain control. Therapy sessions may include family members or be done on an individual basis.

Exercise

Research has shown the effectiveness of exercise in treating depression. Exercise helps boost “feel good” brain chemicals and helps improve overall health and fitness, which may boost self-esteem. Most sources suggest 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily to get the full benefits.

Supplements

Studies suggest that supplements may help depression. Vitamins, minerals, and certain herbs may relieve the symptoms of mild or moderate depression. St. John’s Wort has been shown to help decrease depression symptoms. Other supplements that may help include:

* Fish oil
* Evening primrose oil (said to be particularly helpful for depression in women)
* B-complex vitamins
* Magnesium
* Flax oil
* Valerian (a mild herbal sedative)

Diet

A healthy diet may help boost mood in depressed individuals. Nutrient-dense foods can provide your body with the necessary substances that it needs to fight depression and get your brain in optimal working order. Here are some dietary tips for helping treat your depression.

* Whole grains and complex carbs may help boost serotonin levels in the brain. Some depressed people crave sugar; this may be your body’s way of telling you it needs carbs. Give it what it needs, but not in unhealthy forms like sugar or white flour baked goods.

* Fresh fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants and nutrients. Make sure to include lots of these in your diet.

* Healthy fats can be helpful in treating depression. Go for fish and nuts to give your body the healthy fats it needs.

 

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