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10 Natural Cures For Depression: Highly Effective Methods

I am well aware that there are different types of depression. Some people get depressed from the death of a loved one or someone close to them. Others get depressed because they struggle with major depression. Yet others get depressed from a heap of stressful events occurring consecutively such as: a speeding ticket, a bad break up, job loss, etc. Generally a low depression involves little to no energy, lack of motivation, sleeping too much, and possibly not eating right.

Another high type of depression involves depression as a result of chronic stress. Symptoms for this type may involve insomnia, excessive worry, intrusive negative or suicidal thoughts, etc. The reason I call one a “low” and one a “high” is because they are different. People may experience one or the other, or a mix of symptoms, but usually the result is the same.

Below are some very common, yet highly effective natural ways to cure your depression. If you haven’t tried them before medication or supplements, I highly recommend it.

10 Natural Cures For Depression

1. Exercise

One reason people get depressed is that they sit on their asses all day. Really, the fact that so many people are slugs is a contributing factor to depression. People that work out frequently are way less likely to be depressed. I recommend forcing yourself to exercise at least 5 days a week for at least 40 minutes each day.

Don’t get all hyped up on cardio either – there are mental benefits from doing strength training too. Just get yourself moving and make yourself start up an exercise regimen. Plan it out and make no excuses. Initially you will want to make every excuse possible to avoid getting up and going to work out. After about 3 months of working out, it will become automatic.

Not only does exercise help reduce stress, but it will give you confidence. You will look better and feel healthier. You will sweat out some toxins and feel better about yourself. Trust me, so many people don’t exercise, keep eating food, keep being a slug, and they wonder why they feel like sh#t – it’s not rocket science. Make yourself work hard for 40 minutes; don’t make excuses, just do it.

2. Sunshine

If you aren’t getting sunlight and are living in a cave, maybe it’s time to go outside and actually get some shine. Go for a walk or even just lay in the sun for awhile. People that live in wintery climates that don’t get enough sunlight suffer from a depression called “seasonal affective disorder.” Basically since they aren’t getting enough sunlight, their brain functioning changes and they develop a depressed mood.

If you can’t get any sunlight, buy one of those SAD light therapy boxes online and sit in front of it for a healthy amount of time each day. Usually you can work with your therapist or professional to help you determine how much time is necessary for effective treatment. I sometimes use one of these during the winter months and notice that it gives me a little boost in spirits. Your brain is meant to get sunlight during the day, deprivation of sunlight for extended periods of time can certainly be a culprit for seasonal depression or SAD in some people.

3. CBT

Usually the first line of treatment for depression is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. This type of treatment combines cognitive elements (a.k.a. thinking) with behavior modification in order to improve your situation. Many people neglect going in for therapy because they don’t think it will fix the problem.

If you’ve never done therapy, you will probably be surprised to find that one empathetic person can make all the difference in the world. Even if your depression is kicking your ass, at least you have someone trying their best to help you during this dark time. Studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy can yield greater improvements than antidepressant medication.

This should be a first line of treatment for anyone experiencing depression as a result of stress, death of a loved one, or other life circumstance. I would argue that for anyone that cannot overcome depression on their own (most people that are trapped cannot), get some therapy. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should be going into therapy at least once a week if you can afford it.

4. Diet

There are so many artificial flavors and preservatives a.k.a. unhealthy crap added to foods these days that if you are eating unhealthy, you probably will feel the effects. If you aren’t exercising and are shoveling loads of this artificial junk down your throat and it’s all building up in your body, you have a major problem.

If you wake up and are dipping artificial waffles in artificial syrup each morning with a pop tart for lunch and some fast food for dinner, you are basically setting yourself up for an unhealthy body – and an unhealthy brain. Throw in some soda or sweetened crap to drink and you’re a walking biohazard.

Optimal diets for mental health generally include plenty of protein. A healthy balanced diet is beneficial, but too many people have been brainwashed to think a lot of carbs are healthy – they are not. I would recommend a lot of lean meats, eggs, fish, fruits, and veggies as your staple foods. Feel free to add some healthy carbohydrates depending on what you do during a given day. Reduce sugary crap, cut out soda, and throw away the bags of chips.

In order for your body and brain to function optimally, you need to give them the fuel that they need. If you can, try to cook your own healthy meals instead of going out for some fast food crap. Fix your diet and your body will look healthier, feel healthier, and your brain will function better.  For an expanded explanation to the dietary component of depression, read: “Best Diet for Depression.”

5. Books

There are many self help books out there to help give you a mental boost that you may need during your darkest times. When all else fails, order a book off of Amazon and read it. Many people swear by reading books to help them overcome certain obstacles such as depression. During some tough bouts with anxiety and depression in my past, no medication, no therapist, and no supplement helped.

Literally nothing helped me until I read the right book. Go online, dig up some top rated books on the topic of depression and see if they have any advice that will help you get out of your trap. Although there may be a chemical problem, there also is a thinking problem. The books will help you think differently – giving you a different perspective on your bleak outlook.

At one point, my depression was so bad that I could barely read. However, I kept reading and re-reading pages over and writing stuff down until I formulated a plan to help pull myself out of the darkness. Don’t go overboard with the books though – you shouldn’t need to keep ordering more to feel better. All you really need is one great book to reference that you can re-read when you are depressed.

6. Sleep

If you aren’t eating healthy and don’t exercise, chances are your sleep cycle is really knocked out of place. I’m not going to tell you how much to sleep at night – because everyone is different. What I will say though is that I’d recommend shooting for around 8 hours each night. Certain individuals with depression sleep too much (over 10 hours) because they are out of energy. Too much sleep usually goes along with deep, energy-less depression.

The other kind of depression, sometimes caused by excess stress, typically is evidenced by getting way too little of sleep – less than 6 hours. Only you know whether you are getting enough sleep or too little, but set your alarm clock and try to improve your sleeping. If you can’t fall asleep due to excess stress, then do some relaxation exercises.

If you are sleeping too much, force yourself to get up. If you get up and feel super tired, go do something – make your body stay busy. If it runs out of energy, keep pushing yourself to do more and be more throughout your day without succumbing to naps or sleeping breaks.

Most people’s sleep is thrown off due to lack of exercise – they eat, sit around all day, and yeah they may be “busy” but they still have a lot of energy to burn. Instead of hitting the gym, they sit around and say how tired they are, but can’t fall asleep. Go move your ass for awhile and you’ll be able to sleep.

7. Socialization

Perhaps one of the toughest things to do when depressed is socialize with other people. If you want to get out of your funk, it’s a necessary step to improving your situation. Even if you are not a super social person by nature (I’m not), you can try to talk to someone each day. When you talk to other people, don’t talk about your depression. Talk about other stuff going on in your life and try not to focus on the fact that you feel like shit. If you keep talking about how depressed you are, people are just going to get annoyed and wonder WTF.

A good low key way to socialize without a ton of effort is to volunteer for something. Go online and look up some ways you could get involved in your community. If volunteering isn’t your thing, try to go join a club, or join a dating site and go out on some dates. You can even join a dating site or app on your phone just to make new friends. Heck if you’re really ambitious, go after them all.

For some people, socializing can make them depressed if they are around the wrong group of people. Find people that you get along with and don’t hang out with people that leave you feeling drained after each interaction. You want to feel energized after hanging out with someone, not even worse than when you started. This may take some trial and error on your part – especially when giving new people a chance.

Ask yourself: Is this person really my friend or only my friend to get something they want out of the relationship? Such as: Status, money, sex, etc. If they are really your friend and have a good time with them, you won’t feel nearly as depressed while hanging out with them. You may even forget that you were depressed if you have a really good time.

Another thing you may want to look into is getting a job – this will help you become more social and boost your confidence. Most people without jobs aren’t very happy not necessarily because their income is stripped, but more so because the social contact isn’t there. Jobs fill a social void for usually 8 hours a day.

8. Goals

If you aren’t setting goals, you are stagnating and aren’t going to ever really change. Tackling everything on this list may be a tough challenge. So set a goal to improve one area of your life such as “fitness.” Make yourself commit to working out every day for at least 40 minutes with about one day off per week for rest for at least 3 months. There are other goals you could set too such as: get a college degree, run your first marathon, or even something as simple as clean your house.

I recommend starting with a reasonable goal and not getting too carried away initially. With that said, a sense of accomplishment will leave you feeling much better about yourself than if you sit around all day and have the “woe is me” attitude. Another example of a goal would be to learn how to cook a certain meal. When you finish one, set another and keep the momentum going.

No matter how shitty your life situation is right now, you can always set some sort of a goal and work towards improving it. No matter how small the goal is – it will get you moving in the right direction – and that’s what counts. With each small accomplishment, your self-esteem will increase and you will feel more confident in your abilities. Even if you are depressed, at least you will be getting something done.

9. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not necessarily meditation, but it can be. Mindfulness is simply being aware of the present moment or the “now.” The practice of mindfulness helps you to not focus on fears and worries in the past or future, but to be aware of what’s going on right now – at this exact moment. You can get what is called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to help your depression if you would prefer; there are specialists in this area.

The practice of daily mindfulness has been studied and has been found to significantly prevent relapse of major depressive episodes among individuals with depression. One amazing aspect to this practice is that it actually produces real changes in both brain wave activity and activation. Areas of the brain linked with happier mood experienced greater activation even after the mindfulness practice.

If you get serious about practicing mindfulness – not even necessarily mediation – you should eventually be much less prone to stress and limited by your depression. Results with this practice do not happen overnight, but after a few months of daily practice you may feel like a totally different person.

10. Vacation

If all else fails and you feel like the world is crap, and you feel like crap, and you don’t know what to do, get out of town and take a vacation. Traveling may not cure how crappy you feel about yourself, but it may change things up. A new environment may distract you from how bad you feel and make you focus on something else. I recommend going to a place that you really want to go – or have wanted to go to for a long time and see how you like it.

Something as simple as a vacation can help us get a different perspective on everyday life and the world. You could go on a vacation just to experience new things and become more cultured or you could just book a trip to a nice resort and live it up for awhile (if you can afford it). During one of my worst episodes of depression, the thing that helped me cope was just laying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and living it up for about a week.

Returning home might suck, but something like a vacation can spark a significant change in mood if you go to the right place. Bring along a friend or family for some company too if you’d like – having some other people around can be beneficial and will make things more fun. If you don’t get enough alone time and want to go by yourself, you have that option as well.

Heck if your vacation does lead to an improvement in mood – even if it’s a slight one, that’s a plus.

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Surender babbar May 15, 2016, 5:58 pm

    The discussion in this post is excellent. Can you please differentiate between Meditation and Mindfulness? How one should practice for Mindfulness?

  • S. Smith January 23, 2016, 1:19 am

    Judging by the comments it seems the point of the article is being missed. This article is about natural treatments for depression, not synthetic medications. I suffered from major depression for many years, trying one anti-depressant after another (from SSRIs to MAOI and everything in between). Not only are you putting harmful chemicals in your body but most of the time they either didn’t work or caused more side effects than they were worth.

    Not until I tried these methods for myself did I see a change – A MAJOR change, unlike I had ever seen before. I will tell everyone what I did, just in case someone reading would like to try it. Getting vigorous exercise when you are suffering from major depression is easier said than done. If I had the get-up-and-go to exercise, I probably wouldn’t be depressed in the first place. So, I started with something simpler.

    First I started with a high quality fish oil (EFA/DHAs) and got a light therapy box. I live in FL but work indoors so I didn’t get much sunlight on a daily basis. Within 8 weeks after doing both of those things I started feeling noticeable energetic. I actually bought running shoes and a bike! Incredible for someone who previously didn’t even want to get out of bed, much less go outside.

    After those two things I now had more energy, so I started working out daily (I actually did J. Michaels 90 day body revolution plan). At the same time, I completely changed my diet and started eating clean, whole foods. I cut out all processed carbs, sugar, saturated fat, gluten and dairy. In a nutshell I ate good fats (olive oil, avocado, etc…), lean meats, fruits (in moderation) and vegetables.

    I had terrible headaches and fatigue the first 5 days of doing this but after my body went through the withdrawals of not having the starchy carbs it was smooth sailing). After doing those 4 things – fish oil, light therapy, exercise and eating clean – I felt like a new person. I had more focus and energy than ever. YOU TOO can have the same results. Just try one step at a time.

    Don’t try to start with exercise, that one can prove to be too difficult and you may give up. Just start easy like I did with the light therapy and fish oil. Then work your way up. Trust me, you will see better results than with any chemicals or synthetic medications and you will know you are not putting anything harmful in your body. It is amazing how good you will feel.

    • Kelly March 23, 2018, 11:33 pm

      Wow…what a great share. I have been struggling with spending a huge amount of money I don’t have (getting a loan) to go to a detox centre. I have been on a significant dose of strong antidepressants for 5 years. Do you think I can wean myself off gradually?

  • Rick December 14, 2015, 11:35 pm

    6 months ago Joan wrote about her experience using Niacin and was wondering if it a good treatment for depression / dysthymia ? I have tried lexapro, Wellbutrin, bupropion, Zoloft, remeron and etc. Some worked a little but never lifted the depression enough. All had side effects that I had to eventually stop. I am on Viibryd now, but not satisfied with it and still have side effects.

  • Joan Munro June 19, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Hi Gloom, I wanted to share my experience with niacin supplementation with you. I have suffered with moderate to severe depression my entire life. Last August, after 9 years on Effexor, I stopped taking it because of the side effects. I tried using supplements as recommended by Julia Ross in her book The Mood Cure, but they were not effective for me.

    My depression became so severe last October that I had to go back on to an anti-depressant (Bupropion) but this medication made my depression much worse. I was then put onto Trintellix in April. The Trintellix was helpful, but side effects soon began to appear. I happened upon an article about a psychiatrist who had used niacin for treating depression. When I googled niacin and depression, I came upon many other blogs and comments from other people who also found niacin to be effective against their struggles with depression.

    I was desperate to find an alternative to taking anti-depressants, so 4 weeks ago, I began supplementing with niacin (I had already been taking a vitamin B multi, magnesium, fish oil and Vit. D). I started with 100mcg niacin and have been gradually increasing the dose by 25mcg increments each day. I use only the regular niacin, not the timed release nor the non-flushing type.

    Since I started taking the additional niacin, I find that my depression is/has diminished significantly. I am no longer suffering from that bottomless well of depressive feelings that had been with me since last fall. I stopped taking the Trintellix 3 weeks ago and my depression has continued to lift. I just wanted to share my experience with you. I have always appreciated your blog and the articles and information you provide. All the best… Joan

  • Joan Munro November 6, 2014, 4:14 pm

    Thank you for all of the time and effort you have put into the information and opinions you offer on your website. I have found your articles to be packed full of valuable information in an easy to read format.

    I have suffered from depression for my entire life, and have read many self-help books related to this condition but unfortunately have not yet found any to be particularly helpful.

    Can you tell me what book(s) you have found to be most helpful?

    • GLOOM November 6, 2014, 6:32 pm

      Hi Joan, really appreciate your comment. To deal with depression, I like to read books that are inspiring or give me some hope for the future. They don’t necessarily have to even be classified as “self-help” or geared towards overcoming depression.

      Just anything to give you some hope, encouragement, and/or inspiration can sometimes, even temporarily, lift depression. I typically just look for highly rated books in self-help, spirituality, diet, and science to offer some sort of a perspective shift. An example: “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl.

      • Joan Munro November 7, 2014, 2:49 pm

        Thank you for your reply.

        Is there a difference between the new SNDRIS vs. combining an SNRI like effexor with an NDRI like bupropion ?

        • GLOOM November 7, 2014, 8:02 pm

          Your guess is as good as mine. Since they aren’t out yet, I don’t know. But I don’t think they are going to be anything special or provide a mood boost that isn’t already attainable with a combination of existing medications.

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