Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health-related illnesses in the United States today.
The long-held stigmas surrounding mental health have often kept those who are suffering from seeking help.
The internet and the free-flow of information that became available to the masses a few decades ago helped to shine a light on these extremely common conditions. A slow chiseling away of the social stigmas was in motion.
The sharing of information, resources, stories of recovery, and treatment plans undoubtedly saved countless lives.
With the rise of awareness about mental health, also came the commoditization of mental illness.
Pharmaceutical companies were quick to develop, advertise, and lobby to physicians about the wonders of antidepressants.
For many with severe depression and anxiety, these drugs were absolutely necessary. Other patients unfortunately experienced a worsening of symptoms.
Antidepressant Side Effects
In the United States alone, 40 million adults experience depression every year. That is about 18% of the adult population.
Depression and anxiety can present a range of symptoms that go from manageable to all-consuming, crippling emotional pain.
For many suffering from severe depression or anxiety, a pharmaceutical option is the only road to relief. The side effects related to the most common antidepressants pale in comparison to the grief that these patients are overcoming.
Some of the most common antidepressant side effects include:
- Loss of sexual function/desire
- Weight gain
- Dry mouth
- Mood swings
These side effects can be worse for some than the illness they’re intended to treat. In some cases, anxiety and depression can actually increase.
Alleviating Anxiety And Depression Naturally
People who have adverse side effects when taking antidepressants or those who are opposed to pharmaceuticals are utilizing more natural ways to treat depression and anxiety.
Here are some of the top ways that you can naturally take steps to improve your quality of life if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression.
Be Mindful Of Your Diet
The foods we consume affect every aspect of our body, which includes the mind.
Fresh, whole foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants are the best foods for your body and mind.
Researchers found that after making dietary changes that included a focus on whole foods, 32% of patients found relief from their depressive symptoms.
Reducing or eliminating processed foods, sugary foods, fried foods, and other junk foods was also a part of the treatment plan.
Some foods that have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety are:
- Foods rich in selenium - whole grains, Brazil nuts, certain kinds of seafood, and organ meats like liver
- Oily fish - salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines
- Foods that contain folate - dark leafy greens, nuts, beans, dairy products, and eggs
A good rule of thumb for eating for depression and anxiety is that if it’s fresh it’s best. If it comes in a box, can, jar, or other long shelf-life based packaging, it’s probably not going to be providing the nutrients that your body needs.
Sounds simple enough. When depression and anxiety set in even the most simple and enjoyable tasks feel unmanageable.
It’s hard to get motivated to go for a run when you don’t even want to get out of bed.
The days that you want to avoid exercise the most are probably the days that you need it the most.
Even a walk in nature can help to get out of your own head and find a measure of peace in the present moment.
If you have access to a grassy space, beach, or another way to connect with the earth, studies have shown that the process of just touching the bare ground can improve sleep and mood.
Try walking barefoot in nature to feel some of these effects. This will also provide a healthy dose of vitamin D from exposure to the sun.
Curcumin For Anxiety And Depression
Curcumin has been used for centuries to treat almost every illness.
The highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the golden spice have been used in treatment plans for cancer, diabetes, and even COVID-19.
Depression and anxiety can be greatly impacted by levels of inflammation in the body. By reducing the inflammatory response in the body, stress levels decline.
There is mounting evidence that depression can be caused and worsened by inflammation. One doctor described it as, “the brain on fire.”
Patients who don’t respond well to traditional antidepressants showed elevated levels of inflammation.
Curcumin’s anti-inflammatory benefits are vast, the major drawback to treating patients with curcumin is its low level of bioavailability.
Bioavailability is essentially the amount of drug that is absorbed versus the full amount administered. If only half of a drug or supplement is available for absorption, you’ll only receive half of the benefits of each dose.
How To Increase The Bioavailability Of Curcumin And Other Supplements
Curcumin’s health benefits for treating depression and anxiety are reduced greatly when taken in traditional pill or powder form.
Researchers have found that liposomes are the best way to deliver curcumin for heightened bioavailability.
Liposomes are an oral delivery method that is used for treatments that require highly specific and targeted doses. Cancer treatments are beginning to use liposomal encapsulation to hyper-target specific organs and ensure that the correct dose is being administered.
Liposomes protect supplements and drugs from being destroyed in the GI tract while traveling to their final destination for absorption.
The destructive stomach acids that break down food also break down medicines and vitamins.
Liposomes act as a protective barrier that encapsulates curcumin to prevent degradation.
They also mimic the molecular structure of the body’s own cells, so they aren’t recognized as a foreign invader in the body.
Finding Depression And Anxiety Help And Resources
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression or anxiety and need to talk to someone, these free resources may be helpful.
Help is available 24/7 through these free and confidential services. The links below can help direct you to treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Institue Of Mental Health: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741741
You should always consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements or vitamins if you are already on a treatment plan for depression and anxiety. This article is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical care.