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Holistic Ways to Relieve Depression and Anxiety

Alternatives to antidepressants.

Image: Morgan, Flickr

Treating depression or anxiety with medication, as is prescribed by well-meaning doctors to millions of people, will never get to the real heart of the problem and therefore cannot be a truly effective cure. Yes antidepressants have their place in that they help you get over the worst of what can be a crippling condition, but for mild to moderate depression the effect is not long-lasting and for some relief doesn't come. We are all different, each with a unique biochemistry, and as such must be treated as individuals. Explore these holistic options and find out which ones, or which combination, works (and they do work) best for you.

1. Get outside in nature

Our mood tends to dip during the winter months but you can make for a lack of natural sunlight by topping up your vitamin D levels – eat plenty of oily fish and organic liver or take a good-quality cod liver supplement, or alternatively use a vitamin D spray.

'Eco-Therapy' for Environmental Depression

Article / ByBryan Walsh

Mother Nature is a powerful ally in your quest to be free of depression and anxiety and the benefits of being outside, surrounded by the soothing green tones of nature or bathed in the rays of the sun, are major for our mental health.

7 Health Benefits of Going Barefoot Outside

Article / ByStephanie Slon

Try taking your shoes and socks off for a free mood-lifting treatment.

2. Improve your gut health

With millions of neurons located in our intestines and a large chunk of our happy hormone serotonin produced there, a healthy gut translates to a healthy brain and balanced moods.

9 Steps to Perfect Health – #5: Heal Your Gut

Article / ByChris Kesser

Find out how to ensure your bowels perform at their best.

Amino acids and their significance for sleep, mood and performance

Article / Byaminoacid-studies

One simple and cheap way to do this is to take glutamine powder, which happily works on your gut and your brain.

3. Increase magnesium

Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill

Article / ByEmily Deans

Magnesium is the ultimate destress nutrient and most of us are sadly deficient, which in turn reduces our ability to cope with everyday stresses.

The Wonders of Ordinary Epsom Salt

Article / ByJill Nystul

Magnesium-rich foods include sea greens, leafy greens, dark chocolate and cacao, nuts and seeds and wholegrains like brown rice and oats but a favourite way of mine to keep anxiety at bay is with an Epsom Salt bath.

4. Breathe deeply

In traditional Chinese medicine, the lungs relate to the brain and specifically to depression, so learning deep breathing techniques using the fullness of your lungs can really work wonders to lift your mood and stay calm.

Soft Belly Meditation

Video / ByJames S. Gordon
The author of Unstuck , Dr James Gordon, has developed this short breathing practice aimed at combating depression.

Poor Posture Linked to Depression

Article /

Check your posture too; just the simple action of sitting up straight can make you feel positive.

5. Stay away from stimulants

While you think that sugary foods and drinks and coffee make you feel better and give you energy, in the long run they actually sap your energy and make your depression and anxious feelings worse.

What could ginseng do for you?

Article / ByDr John Briffa

Support your adrenal glands instead by taking something called an adaptogen, a natural plant-based tonic, such as Siberian Ginseng or if you are taking an antidepressant Rhodiola Rosea.

6. Omega 3

Omega-3 fatty acids banish depression: Research

Article / ByDavid Gutierrez

Are you getting enough Omega 3 fats in your diet? Eating oily fish such as salmon or mackerel three times a week has been found to be as effective as taking an antidepressant and does not come with a list of potential side effects, while a oily fish supplement to alleviate depression when antidepressants have failed.

7. Lavender for anxiety

Among its multiple benefits, lavender has long been touted for its ability to relieve anxiety and insomnia and promote a more positive outlook by enhancing neurotransmitter levels in the brain.

Top 10 Essential Oils to Relieve Anxiety

Article / ByMary Crimmins

Pure lavender essential oil is perfectly safe to drink even (make sure it is organic and therapeutic grade), and you only need 1-2 drops in a glass of water to experience its wonderful calming effects.

Hannah Howard runs Hannah Howard Nutrition in Berkhamsted and also offers a mobile service to the surrounding area. Since leaving the world of journalism 4 years ago, she has been learning all she can about health and nutrition, including juicing and raw food, macrobiotics, the mind-body connection, naturopathic nutrition and holistic remedies.

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