Photo by Cat from Sevilla, Spain
There are many natural remedies for anxiety and depression. This post only covers readily available products which will help with both problems.
Anxiety and depression are closely related and often occur together. Anxiety is generally associated with stress or fear, whereas depression is often considered to be a result of suppressed anger. Both are linked to serotonin levels in the brain.
Anxiety, depression and deficiency
There are strong indications that both depression and anxiety are at least partly deficiency diseases.
Deficiencies in vitamin B, vitamin D, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and tryptophan (an amino acid which is involved in the production of serotonin) have been linked to symptoms of anxiety.
Depression has been linked to deficiencies in Omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamin B, vitamin D, folate, chromium, iron, magnesium, zinc, iodine or selenium.
Note: Gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and some other closely-related grains as well as foods made from these, eg. pasta, bread and pastry) is also sometimes associated with depression. If you discover this link affects you, you should ask your doctor for a test for celiac disease.
An Epsom salt bath will give you a lift
Epsom salts (Magnesium sulphate) added to your bath are a simple and easy way to relieve emotional stress and depression. As a nice side effect, it will also help flush toxins, ease muscle pain and give your skin a new smooth softness.
Originally discovered as a component of healing springs in Epsom, Surrey, England, these salts have been used for centuries for their rejuvenating properties. Magnesium is involved in many of the body’s functions including energy production, the ability to utilise B vitamins and transmission of nervous impulses. It is readily absorbed using this method.
A balanced diet helps keep anxiety/depression at bay
The first step in fighting off the symptoms of anxiety and depression is to ensure that you are getting a really good balanced diet with all the relevant nutrients.
As a short term fix, a good one-a-day supplement such as Quest Super Once a Day and a high dose (1000mg or more) fish oil supplement will reinstate your nutrient levels quickly.
Foods which help keep your emotions on an even keel
Bee pollen is rich in nutrients are essential for a healthy brain and nervous system including vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C and the minerals iron and zinc. Adding bee pollen to your breakfast cereal or smoothie may help to reduce anxiety and stress.
Chia seeds contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and tryptophan.
Omega-3 is also found in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon. (Unfortunately, the omega-3 found in non-vegan sources is not bio-available.)
Tryptophan is found in dairy products, soy milk, meat, seafood, avocados, winter squash, nuts, and legumes (peas, beans and lentils).
Herbal infusions for anxiety and depression
Chamomile tea is well known to be calming and relaxing, but lemon balm, also called melissa, is helpful both for anxiety and also depression. Two other alternatives you might have in your kitchen cupboard are sage and turmeric. In each case, you can make tea using a teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water. Brew for at least 5 minutes and strain before you drink it. You can add honey to sweeten if you like. Some of these herbs are also available in tea bags.
Turmeric is easier to drink as golden milk: stir into a cup of dairy or non-dairy milk in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and serve. You can add ginger, honey or black pepper to this mixture. It’s very good for you, not just on the emotional front but also as an anti-inflammatory and to boost your immune system.
Essential oils for anxiety and depression
There’s a wide range of essential oils which can be used to fight off blues and angst. You can either add them to a massage blend, put a few drops in the bath or use them in an oil burner or electric diffuser.
There are professional blends such as De-Stress blend, or if you prefer to use single oils or make your own blend, you can choose from sweeter oils like bergamot, rose geranium, jasmine grandiflorum or officinale, lavender, neroli and ylang ylang or more “masculine” ones such as Virginian cedarwood, Roman chamomile, rosewood, sandalwood and turmeric.
Unfortunately, recent research has found that regular use of tea tree and lavender oils in boys before puberty can lead to gynecomastia (breast enlargement) and can interfere with their sexual development [source
]. The same thing can occur in adult males, but with less serious effects, since their sexual characteristics are already established. It’s therefore advisable to restrict use of the oils and products (eg. shampoo) that contain either of these oils for boys except in occasional emergency situations.
As with all essential oils, none of the oils mentioned in this post should be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.
Exercise raises your spirits
I’ve left exercise till last for two reasons. The first one is, as anyone who has suffered from depression will tell you, getting the motivation together even just to crawl out of bed is a major undertaking when you are dealing with the ‘black dog’. The other is that some people are physically unable to exercise because of underlying health conditions that may themselves contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.
However, if you are more at the anxiety end of this spectrum and are able, a bike ride, a run, a workout at your local gym, or whatever your preferred form of heartbeat raising activity will increase endorphins and your confidence, both of which will help to make you feel better.
Recent research also indicates that long walks where the mind is allowed to wander and take in the scenery are helpful for depression.