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Even the happiest of people experience periods of sadness. While feeling blue once in a while is normal, experiencing long-term sadness that takes you away from friends and family can lead to a more serious problem: depression. When you find yourself stuck in a rut and can use a little pick-me-up, try some of these natural remedies that can help elevate your mood and boost your energy at the same time.
Herbs for Happiness
Most medical professionals are quick to prescribe antidepressant and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) when patients complain of depression. As with any medication, these come with a host of dangerous side-effects that can have long-term consequences over time. Instead of pills and prescriptions, turn to some of these herbs that have been used for centuries to treat the blues.
1. Rhodiola rosea (Crassulaceae): A perennial plant known to alleviate anxiety and stress.
2. St. John’s Wort: Also referred to as “nature’s prozac,” this herb is a natural mood booster.
3. Camu Camu (Myrciaria dubia): This plant’s high vitamin C content is a natural anxiety aid.
4. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): This Indian plant is also known to fight degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s as well as depression.
5. Maca (Lepidium meyenii): Known also as “Peruvian ginseng,” this powerful herb increases energy, enhances stamina and boosts the immune, adrenal and endocrine systems.
Foods That Fight Bad Moods
Many people turn to the so-called “comfort food” when they’re feeling blue. But, often these high-fat, high-sodium and nutrient-poor foods only compound feelings of sadness and depression. Instead of mom’s mac and cheese, try some of these mood boosters to add to your meals.
6. B vitamins: According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a deficiency of B vitamins is often linked with depression due to their role in the brain’s message-sending center. Incorporate foods like egg yolks, organic lean beef and poultry, wild caught fish and wheat germ into your meals. Vegans and vegetarians can turn to nutritional yeast as a condiment, which also serves as a great cheese-alternative.
7. Nuts and seeds: The magnesium found in nuts and seeds not only boosts energy levels but also plays a key role in serotonin production. Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain that is responsible for that “feel good” feeling. Leafy greens are also a good source for magnesium if you’re not completely nuts for nuts.
8. Cold-water fish: Salmon, sardines, tuna and herring are a great source of the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA. Up to 20 percent of the gray matter of our brains is comprised of DHA. Researchers have found that depressed individuals often lack sufficient DHA levels. Choose wild-caught and organic fish, and if you opt for a fish oil supplement instead, choose only the highest quality as many contain mercury and other contaminants.
9. Gluten-free grains: Packaged and processed products are often made from wheat flour and sugar, both of which are responsible for blood sugar spikes. When the blood sugar begins to drop, so does your mood. Opt instead for ancient grains such as quinoa, millet, amaranth and spelt.
Get Up and Out
Sitting alone indoors is no way to combat your moody blues. Instead, go for a walk or jog. Exercise boosts endorphin production which gives you that natural high. While any runner will tell you about the thrill of running long-distance, researchers find that even an easy walk can be enough to lift your spirits. For an added bonus, be sure to get out in the sunlight. As little as a 20 to 30 minute exposure to the sun’s rays can aid in vitamin D production, which is a natural mood booster. This can be especially important during the winter months when days are short.
Fill Your Free Time
Depressed people tend to avoid social interaction, which only aids in their loneliness. Take up a new activity that you find challenging yet fun or find volunteer opportunities in your community. Not only will you have the opportunity to meet new people, but you will also be giving back to others which will no doubt help lift your spirits.