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Depression: What to do when nothing else works

Photo: Shutterstock

Depression is one of the most common health issues for young people in America.

While most types of depression are mild, about one person in ten will have a moderate or severe episode.

Depression (moderate to severe) is a mental illness characterized by feelings of extreme sadness that last longer than usual.

Other signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling worthless or guilty a lot of the time
  • Feeling everything has become ‘too hard’
  • Having trouble sleeping or oversleeping and staying in bed most of the day
  • Lacking energy and motivation
  • Eating disorders such as excessive hunger or loss of appetite

Living with depression eats you up from the inside out. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to help you overcome depression that has been scientifically proven to work.

Here’s a look at some of the best self-help ways to beat depression without the happy pills.

How to overcome depression

Avoid alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant and your condition will get worse after drinking. People who are depressed and drink are more likely to think about suicide.

Change your diet – Processed foods can make you feel depressed so clear your kitchen of sugary snacks and junk foods filled with preservatives.

The other dietary rule is to eat foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids like coconut oil, fish oil, nuts, avocados, salmon, sardines, and olive oil.

Numerous studies found that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.

Nuts and seeds also contain healthy fats and cashews are one of the few actually linked to reducing anxiety and mild depression.

Exercise – Regular outdoor exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health. No need for the grueling workouts, a brisk walk is a much better option.

Yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation done in natural surroundings are also beneficial.

The power of gratitude – Studies shows that counting your blessings and talking about all the things you’re grateful for in your life will make you feel less depressed.

When you notice something negative entering into your head, say “STOP!” to yourself. Yelling this inside your head over and over again can help stop these thoughts from pouring back in.

Helping others and thanking people who’ve been nice to you is another way to improve your mood.

Talk to someone – A simple act of talking to someone face to face about your situation can be an enormous help. If you don’t have a family member or close friend you can talk to, then join a support group.

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Talking to people who have gone through similar experiences can be extremely helpful.

Sleep – Sleep is vital to good health. Get enough rest!

Essential oils for depression

Essential oils are not a cure for severe cases of depression but they can help trigger the brain to heal and relax which certainly helps ease the symptoms.

The five best essential oils for depression are:

  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Clary sage

Some studies have shown acupuncture and having a mood lamp in your room to be a safe and therapeutic option.

If you are looking for another natural, side-effect-free way then Turmeric might be a winner.

A recent study published in the Journal Phytotherapy Research says that curcumin, a bioactive compound in Turmeric, can effectively reduce symptoms of depression.

turmeric for depression
Turmeric. Photo: Shutterstock

How much turmeric for depression?

Researchers found that absorbing 1,000mg of curcumin (in two divided doses of 500mg) each for six weeks proved to be just as effective at treating depression with Prozac.

Turmeric is fat soluble, so you need to eat a little fat with it so that it can be fully absorbed.

When eaten with a tablespoon of pure virgin olive or coconut oil, turmeric can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream and will penetrate all your organs.

Saffron is another over the counter anti-depressant that can effectively lift your mood.

The standard daily dose is 30 mg of saffron extract in capsule, often taken as 15 mg morning and night.

Take either of these natural antidepressants for at least 6-8 weeks before making any decisions about their effectiveness.

Another possible cause of depression is that you may have abnormally high concentrations of specific microorganisms in your gut.

For some people, eating probiotic foods can be as effective as antidepressants without the side effects.

Click here to learn how to get more probiotics into your diet

Niacin for depression

If you can’t kick your depression with the methods above, it might be time to ask your doctor for a blood test to check your vitamin B (Niacin) levels.

Why? Because believe it or not, B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions.

It’s possible that you don’t have a mental illness but rather a niacin (B-3) deficiency which is linked to depression and anxiety.

Depressed people are frequently deficient in B Vitamins and when left untreated, a niacin deficiency can cause dementia and pellagra.

Niacin is widely available over the counter but it’s important you speak with your doctor before taking it.

Most doctors will prescribe Niacin in small frequent doses and slowly increase these doses daily.

Inositol, a water-soluble nutrient related to the B vitamin family, has also been used as an effective treatment for depression when taken in high doses (18 grams).

If there is nothing wrong with your B Vitamin levels and you continue to struggle with depression, it may be time to take prescription medication.

Medication for Depression

The following medications are approved by the FDA for depression:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

If you’ve been taking one of the above for at least 6 weeks and still feeling depressed, talk to your doctor about adding Abilify (aripiprazole).

Abilify is prescribed as an add-on treatment when an antidepressant alone is not enough.

Latuda is another drug that can be used as an add-on. Studies found that those who didn’t improve with a single antidepressant had an increased chance of getting better with an add-on.

Many people with depression also benefit from other drugs.

Ketamine for depression

Ketamine infusion therapy is a new treatment for severe depression and the results are extremely promising providing relief for many treatment-resistant depression, bipolar, and PTSD sufferers.

Since 2006, dozens of studies have reported that Ketamine can reverse the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants can’t,  Sara Solovitch reports for the Washington Post.

ketamine for depression
Ketamine Injection

Current reviews conclude that Ketamine is highly effective against depression.

The main drawback of ketamine is its antidepressant effect tends to wear off after a few days or weeks. This means patients need repeated infusions to keep depression at bay.

Suboxone for depression

Suboxone, which is used to treat opiate addiction like heroin and Oxycodone, definitely has antidepressant properties but is addictive. Very addictive.

There are cases of people that have become so dependent on Suboxone that they plan on using it for life.

Most people who end up taking Suboxone as a “last resort” have positive experiences.

NAABT released the results of a study using Suboxone on patients who had not responded to other antidepressants.

Of the ten patients, Four had a complete recovery, three had side effects and had to stop using it, two had significant improvement and one got worse.

Vyvanse and Strattera for depression

Vyvanse, a commonly prescribed drug for ADHD, was being considered to become an FDA approved treatment for depression but failed after unsuccessful results.

This medication is classified as a “Schedule II” controlled substance which means it is highly addictive.

If you are using Vyvanse to treat your depression you are in a very dangerous position.

Basically, Vyvanse forces your body into a happy energized state but once you go off it, you’ll have bouts of extreme sadness and despair.

This can trigger suicidal behavior in someone who is already suffering from depression.

Strattera is another FDA-approved drug used to treat ADHD that is sometimes used to treat depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.

The good thing about Strattera is that it tends to have an easy discontinuation with many users reporting minimal withdrawal symptoms.

Most psychiatrists will only prescribe Strattera if you have ADHD together with depression.

Gabapentin is used primarily to treat epilepsy but it is now used to treat various forms of chronic pain.

This drug is not an antidepressant but many consumers say it improves mood and is occasionally prescribed to those that are struggling with Unipolar and Bipolar Disorder.

Trileptal is another drug primarily used for epilepsy but many say it works pretty well for stabilizing moods.

Depression quotes

It’s important to keep motivated and positive when on the road to recovery. Here is a collection of some inspirational quotes that can help you stay focused.

“Keep yourself busy if you want to avoid depression. For me, inactivity is the enemy.” ~ Matt Lucas

“Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.” ~ Carrie Fisher

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” ~ Madeleine L’Engle

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” ~ Jim Rohn

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” –Theodore Roosevelt

“Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison

“Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Editor’s note: The first step in getting treatment for depression is making an appointment with your general practitioner. No matter how severe your condition is, treatment is always possible and available.

Good Luck!