09 Aug How to Overcome Depression Naturally
Depression is a serious condition that demands a doctor’s treatment. But the following lifestyle changes may give you a boost if you’re feeling low.
Spend at least one hour each week with a close friend.
In a British study, when 86 depressed women were paired with a volunteer friend, 65 percent of the women felt better. In fact, regular social contact worked as effectively as antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. Regular social contact with a close friend may boost self-confidence and encourage you to make other positive changes that will help lift depression, such as starting an exercise program.
Play with a dog a few minutes every day.
When non-pet owners played with a dog for just a few minutes a day as part of a University of Missouri study, blood levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin—both mood elevators—rose. You don’t need to own a dog to experience these feel-good effects (although dogs are great antidotes to the kind of chronic stress that can result in depression). Pet your neighbor’s dog for a few minutes a day, volunteer at an animal shelter, or stop by your local pet store for some furry one-on-one therapy.
Get a 12-minute massage three times a week.
Whether you pay a professional or ask a spouse or friend to rub your back, the result is the same: a natural mood boost. In a study of depressed dialysis patients, participants who received a 12-minute massage three times a week were less depressed than those who didn’t get the soothing rub. Another study of 84 depressed pregnant women found those who received two 20-minute massages a week from their partners reduced their incidence of depression 70 percent. Researchers suspect massage boosts serotonin levels (which jumped 17 percent in the women who received twice-weekly massages) and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Drink one to two cups of coffee or tea each morning.
Regular, modest caffeine intake decreases the risk of depression by more than 50 percent, says Edward J. Cumella, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and director of research and education for the Remuda Ranch Treatment Centers in Wickenburg, Arizona.
Look for mood-boosting foods.
Walnuts, kiwi, bananas, sour cherries, pineapple, tomatoes, and plums are all naturally high in serotonin. You can also eat foods high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that your body converts to serotonin, a natural mood booster. Tryptophan is commonly found in proteins such as turkey, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese, eggs, and beans. Consuming high-carbohydrate foods also encourages the amino acid tryptophan to flood your brain, boosting serotonin levels. A slice of whole wheat bread slathered with honey, a snack of air-popped popcorn: look for whole grains, as white flour will provide similar benefits but its effects wear off quickly.