If suspect you might suffer from depression, you’re not alone. Depression is at epidemic levels in our society—in fact, Americans are 100 times more depressed than they were a century ago. No one knows for sure what’s causing such high levels of mental health problems, but scientists know that depression is caused by low levels of certain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) in the brain. Some people are genetically predisposed to have less of these vital chemicals, and some scientists theorize that the lack of amino acids in our national diet could also be a culprit.
Either way, there are many ways to boost mood and combat depression naturally, and yoga is just one way to get natural relief from depression. Here are some drug-free ways to brighten your mood and keep the black dog at bay.
Sleep. If you’re not getting enough sleep, chances are you’re not producing enough serotonin, one of the feel-good chemicals necessary for good mental health. Doctors advise people to get at least 7 hours of quality sleep per night. If you have trouble sleeping, consider taking supplements of tryptophan, melatonin or calcium an hour before bedtime.
Exercise. Yoga therapy is particularly useful for restoring serenity and boosting mood, but any kind of exercise will naturally boost your brain’s production of neurotransmitters: cardio, strength training or even a long walk. Just make sure you don’t over-do it or your hormones will start depleting.
Eat right. Your brain won’t work at its peak if you don’t supply it with the nutrients it needs, and crash-dieting or eating junk will ultimately make you feel worse. Eat balanced, regular meals with plenty of fruits and veggies, and try to balance your carb or sugar intake with some protein to keep your blood sugar from dipping.
Get enough fat. Fat is essential for brain function and mental health—in fact, your brain is composed of about 70 percent fat. But that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want—unfortunately, it’s only the so-called “healthy fats” that boost NT production. Try incorporating flaxseed, olive oil and coconut into your diet. If you eat meat and you’re not squeamish, organ meats (like liver) have a high percentage of good fat, too.
Say no to drugs. Over time, things like sugar, alcohol and caffeine can seriously deplete your brain’s capacity to produce hormones. Of course, all three are fine in moderation, but, if you’re seriously about combatting depression, you should cut back as much as possible. Additionally, avoid artificial sweeteners: the chemicals in them can interfere with natural hormone production.
Get the right vitamins. Your brain needs plenty of calcium and magnesium to produce enough serotonin. You can get this through leafy greens, nuts and dairy products. You may also want to look into taking a Vitamin B complex. B vitamins are important for brain function, but they tend to get used up by the body in times of stress. All of the B vitamins work together in synergy, so look for a supplement that contains a good amount of each of them. Finally, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D. The best source of vitamin D, Plenty of natural sunlight.