Everyone gets down and feels a little low from time to time. But did you know that at least eight percent of American adults experience regular feelings of depression and that this mental health disorder causes more functional impairment than many other chronic diseases?
Trying to dig yourself out of a deep depression without support or the right resources can feel like a lost cause, and many people are quick to turn to pharmaceutical drugs as a quick fix. But while anti-depression medication can be life-saving for some people, it’s not the right fit for everyone, and it’s not the only solution available.
To help yourself or someone you love fight depression and come out healthier on the other side, here are some suggestions for natural coping and treatments.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is a complicated disease that occurs differently in every person who experiences it. Some people’s depression is triggered by a major life event, such as a death in the family or a divorce. Childhood trauma and abuse can make individuals prone to depression later in life, as well as conflicts with loved ones in the present time.
There is a genetic component to depression, which means that people who have family members struggling with depression may be more likely to have it too. Drug and alcohol abuse can trigger depression and also certain prescription medications that are taken to address other health concerns. Scientific researchers who have studied the brain have found that the hippocampus, which is used for memory storage, is smaller in people who are depressed, and this results in fewer serotonin receptors to process emotions.
Fighting Depression Naturally
Regardless of whether you take a medication approach or a natural one, talking to someone you trust is one of the best ways to overcome depression. Even if you consult a psychiatrist to take anti-depression medication, you still need a counselor, therapist, or other trusted person to confide in and to help you sort through your thoughts and reach a better mental state. Having someone on your side who is willing to listen without judgement is important in the process of acknowledging your issues, setting goals, and being accountable for your actions, and creating a path towards enjoying life again.
If alcohol or drugs are part of your regular routines, it is beneficial to cut those habits or seek treatment for addiction if necessary because of long-term substance use contributes to poor mental health. Try writing in a journal a little each day to assess where you are at mentally and where you want to be. Exercising a few times per week can boost positive endorphins in the brain, while eating healthy foods and taking all-natural supplements to make up for dietary deficiencies can also set you up for success. If your depression is making you feel stuck in a rut and like there’s nothing to look forward to, try something new by picking up a hobby or changing your daily routine even in just small ways.
Resources for Help and Support
Once you open up to people you love and trust about your depression, you might be surprised to learn how many others you care about have gone through similar circumstances and can relate to you and help you not feel alone. To go beyond your own mind and what the people around you can provide, consider these resources for further support when you need it.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) National Helpline (free and confidential) – Call 800-622-HELP (4357)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline – Call 800-950-6264 or text “NAMI” to 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255)