Depression: What to do Before Resorting to Prozac

Many people who do not suffer from depression do not really understand the gravity of the illness. They think that people can just “snap out of it,” or that it can be treated with some ice cream and a sympathetic ear. Unfortunately though, it’s not that easy. Depression can be due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the body and is even thought to be hereditary in most cases. Depression plagues almost 20 million adults in the United States alone and, believe it or not, most of them do not seek any treatment. They either lack the motivation to get better or they simply do not think there is anything out there that could help. However, the truth is that depression is a serious mental illness and should not be left untreated because it could only get worse.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the symptoms of depression may include difficulty concentrating, decreased energy, feeling sad/guilty/worthless/hopeless, insomnia, irritability, loss of interest, loss of appetite, indecisiveness and having thoughts of suicide. If you have 3 or more of these symptoms for a period of 2 or more weeks, you may be suffering from depression. The first step to recovery is recognizing the symptoms because only then can you seek the appropriate treatment.

If you are against resorting to prescription medications, there are natural remedies out there that you can try first. There are mood-enhancing supplements such as 5-HTP, SAMe, L-theanine and St. John’s Wort that increase the “feel good” neurotransmitters in our brain known as serotonin and dopamine. However, do not take more than one of these supplements at a time and try to consult with a physician to find out which one is best for you. B-vitamins, especially B6, help normalize nerve and brain function and fight fatigue so that you feel more focused, energetic and motivated to carry out your daily tasks. Fish oil is also essential for normal brain function and is a potent mood stabilizer that has been clinically proven to have a negative correlation with depression.

Aside from taking supplements, there are also other natural treatments that could help. Make sure your hormone levels (i.e. thyroid, cortisol, estrogen) are within normal range because any imbalance may cause anxiety and depression. Exercise at least half an hour a day because it helps lower stress hormone levels and also releases natural endorphins within our body, making us feel happy and relaxed. Eat a well balanced diet high in fiber and low in saturated oil/fat and refined sugar to keep your mind and body in top shape. Do not abuse alcohol/drugs because they can act as depressants and can cause your mood to change overtime. Get about 6-8 hours of sleep a night to make sure you are well rested so that you feel energetic and less irritable throughout the day. Last but not least, try to get some sunshine each day if possible because it has been shown that serotonin levels increase when you’re exposed to bright light.

Depression is a serious matter and should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 people who suffer from depression commit suicide. If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering from depression, talk to them and let them know there are effective treatments out there and that they can get better. Mental illnesses are not as easily identified as chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, but that doesn’t mean that they should not be taken as seriously. I hope these tips help and thanks for reading! This has been your dose of Vitamin Jas.