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The Three-Step Plan to Heal Depression Naturally

 

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Photo by Alden Chadwick via Flickr

Anyone who has ever suffered through a disability knows that, in many cases, the condition affects both the mind and the body. Having to adjust to a whole new way of life without the same mobility or physical function as before can be hard for people to deal with, sometimes leading to depression. This probably is then exacerbated by prescription drugs that bring a whole host of side effects and addictive qualities.

While the Mayo Clinic warns that natural remedies should not be viewed as a replacement for traditional diagnosis and treatment, the fact remains that, aside from positively impacting overall health, many people see great results when implementing these ideas into their diet and lifestyle. Here are some of the most effective ways to treat depression naturally.

Get some sun

Likely because of our go-go-go society that finds many of us chained to our desks for the majority of the day, we are spending less time outdoors and, as a result, most Americans suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is responsible for numerous functions within the body, including fighting infections and supporting the immune system and bone health, and protecting against cardiovascular disease. Most notably, though, vitamin D has a powerful affect on the brain, impacting the amount of serotonin, as well as its release.

A 2010 study found that addressing vitamin D levels may be an easy and cost-effective way to treat depression, and while it is possible to supplement with vitamin D, the best way to get your daily dose is through good ol’ sunshine.

Break a sweat

Exercise is one of the best ways to beat depression because it triggers the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones that activate the body’s opiate receptors, both relieving pain and inducing pleasure. In fact, a study cited by Harvard Medical School found that a group ofpeople with depression who took part in an aerobic exercise program experienced the same anti-depression results as those taking the prescription Zoloft. And a follow-up report showed that the effects from exercise actually had a longer-lasting impact than drugs.

It’s important to remember that this exercise must be regular and habitual—the same effects are not possible with just an occasional workout. This video shows great exercise options for those who are confined to a wheelchair or have limited mobility.

Clean up your diet

According to Dr. Josh Axe, a clinical nutritionist whose tagline reads, “Food is Medicine,” eating the right diet is the most important component of treating depression naturally. He recommends consuming healthy fats from sources like coconut oil, avocados and wild-caught salmon to support cellular function and brain health, while organic fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and other nutrients that support mood and mental function.

And in addition to suggestions on what to include in the diet, Dr. Axe also suggests avoiding certain foods. Caffeine and sugar can overly stimulate, leading to a crash that makes you feel irritable and exhausted; alcohol is a depressant that can aggravate already-present depression symptoms; and hydrogenated fats and other processed foods can lead to inflammation and hormone imbalance.

Patricia Sarmiento loves swimming and running. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.