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Natural Help For “The Blues”

Natural Help For “The Blues”
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BY MARY JANE HORTON

Not all sadness is clinical depression. And not all sadness needs to be treated with an antidepressant, as happen nowadays. Antidepressants are a great last-ditch approach to depression, but long-term side affects such as loss of libido, lack of concentration and suicidal thoughts make them a serious step.

So, if you do decide to go that route, do your homework first. If you feel sad, do something proactive for yourself before you jump to medication. Some simple self-care tips are important for everyone whether you feel sad or not. First of all get enough sleep and eat properly. Those small steps will go a long way. Here are some other things that you can do to brighten your outlook:

Reach Out and Touch Someone. Study after study show that people who are involved in their community are less likely to be sad or depressed. Find some volunteer work nearby and immerse yourself. Read to children in a local hospital; deliver food through Meals on Wheels or another delivery service, read the newspaper to people at a nearby nursing home. You will be surprised how quickly helping someone else can make you feel better.

Try a Natural Cure. Exposure to sunlight can go a long way – especially if you are sad in the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can come on with lack of light. So, if you are in a place where you can get sun, go outside for a half an hour a day. If you aren’t, try some lights. Light treatment boxes are a proved treatment for SAD.

Eat Some Fat. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that the body cannot make on its own, so they must come from food sources. The richest source of these fatty acids is fish and seafood, but they can also be found in flaxseeds and some eggs. There are supplements available as well. Several studies now suggest that Omega-3s can be helpful for people with depression or bipolar disorders.

Take Some SAM-e. Some studies show that Sam-E, short for S-adenosylmethionine, which is a substance that occurs naturally in the cells of plants, animals, and humans, may be beneficial in treating depression and preserving a sense of well-being. It has been hypothesized that SAM-e increases the availability of neurotransmitter serotonin and dopamine, which is the same action that makes antidepressants work.

Move, Move, Move. Vigorous (and even not so vigorous) exercise is a proven antidote for the blues. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include: releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins); reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression; increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects. Start with the simplest form of exercise – a brisk walk for 20 minutes – and progress from there, adding either extra time or hills. Yoga, Pilates, and weight training are all great ways to feel better, too.

Know When to Get Help. Finally, serious depression is not something to take lightly. If you think you have more than the blues, seek help from a mental health professional. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these are the symptoms of depression: feeling sad or “empty”; feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty; loss of interest in favorite activities; feeling very tired; not being able to concentrate or remember details; not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much; overeating, or not wanting to eat at all; thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts; aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems.

 

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