If you’ve ever dealt with depression, you know how it can drain your energy. When you’re depressed, even simple tasks like showering feel like an uphill climb.
And while depression can make you feel helpless, you have more power than you think. Many coping strategies can help you overcome depression and improve your mood – without medications.
So if you’re ready to get on the road to recovery, read on to learn 10 natural ways to ease depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Everyone feels sad now and then. It’s part of being human. But depression is when these feelings of sadness linger for weeks, or even months.
Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms may include:
- Feeling depressed or sad
- Losing interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies
- Weight loss, weight gain, or changes in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling agitated or fidgeting
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you’re suffering from depression, know you’re not alone. Roughly 1 in 10 American adults live with depression every year. And with the right treatment, you can feel better.
Conventional treatment for depression involves medication, therapy, or a combo of both. These treatments can be lifesaving, especially if depression is severe.
Yet antidepressant meds come with a long list of side effects. And finding the right one can be a long, arduous journey.
That’s why today many are turning to natural depression treatments.
10 Ways to Overcome Depression Naturally
Overcoming depression isn’t easy. But it is possible. Small lifestyle changes can have a major impact on your mood.
So without further ado, here are 10 natural ways to cope with depression and boost your mood:
1 – Exercise
When you’re depressed, exercise is about the last thing on your mind. But physical movement has profound mood-boosting benefits. Exercise releases endorphins, your body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
One study found exercise is even more effective at easing depression than medications or therapy. What’s more, people who are physically active are less likely to become depressed in the first place.
When you’re depressed, you may not feel like you have the energy to exercise. But even a short walk around the block may be enough to lift your mood. So start small – but start somewhere.
2 – Spend time in nature
Nowadays, most of us spend far too much time indoors. This is a shame, as nature can be deeply healing for your health and well-being.
Research shows spending time outdoors eases symptoms of depression. Nature exposure may also improve cognition, sleep, blood pressure, and overall mental health.
Taking your exercise outside gives you a double dose of mood-boosting benefits. But if you’re low on energy, any time spent outdoors can help.
Here are a few ways to inject more nature in your day:
- Eat meals outside
- Sip on a cup of tea on your porch
- Take your dog for a walk
- Head to a park
- Go for a hike
- Take a bike ride
- Read a book outside
3 – Eat healthy
Food is powerful medicine. And while there’s no magic diet that cures depression – what you eat does affect how you feel.
So here are some simple diet shifts that may help improve your mood:
- Cut back on sugar and refined carbs. Both can take your blood sugar for a roller coaster ride, along with your mood.
- Eat foods rich in B vitamins. Your body uses them to make feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. Foods high in B vitamins include leafy greens, eggs, chicken, legumes, citrus fruits, and avocados.
- Eat omega-3 rich foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are shown to ease symptoms of depression. Foods high in omega 3s include salmon, sardines, mackerel, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods. All can negatively affect your mood.
4 – Stay connected
Depression can make you withdraw from life and isolate yourself from those you love. You may feel ashamed of how you feel or think no one understands what you’re going through.
But support is key to beating depression. So resist the urge to crawl inside your shell. Reach out to friends and family members and share how you’re feeling. The more connected you stay, the less alone you’ll feel.
Here are a few ways to help you feel more connected:
- Phone calls, texts, zoom, or face-to-face check-ins
- Engage in social activities (even if you don’t feel like it)
- Have a lunch or coffee date
- Talk to someone you trust (whether it be a loved one or a therapist)
- Join a support group
- Take a class
5 – Get enough sleep
Getting quality sleep can have an immense effect on your mood. The thing is, around 75% of people with depression have trouble falling or staying asleep.
What’s more, people with insomnia are 10 times more likely to deal with depression than those who sleep soundly.
Clearly, sleep is crucial for your mental health. So if you struggle with shut-eye, here are some tips that may improve your sleep:
- Steer clear of electronics 1-2 hours before bed
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, and cool room
- Avoid caffeine after 2 pm
- Have a relaxing bedtime ritual
- Limit daytime naps
6 – Challenge negative thoughts
Depression can make your mind play tricks on you. Thoughts like “I’m worthless,” “Nobody likes me,” or “I’ll never get better” may pop up in quick succession. These thoughts can reinforce or even worsen feelings of depression.
But just because your mind says something, doesn’t mean it’s true! These negative thoughts are just the depression speaking.
So when negative thoughts creep up, don’t accept them. Challenge them. Ask, “Do I have evidence for this? Is this really true?”
And if you need support with this, work with a therapist who practices cognitive behavioral therapy (you can find one here).
7 – Try meditation
Stress prolongs depression. So to improve your mood, you’ll want to keep your stress in check. And meditation is one way to do just that.
Meditation trains you to stay in the present moment and witness your thoughts. This can help you gain perspective so that you don’t confuse your thoughts for YOU.
Research shows meditation can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you’re new to meditation and it feels intimidating, consider trying an app like Calm that guides you through it.
8 – Gratitude
Gratitude can have a huge effect on your mental health and well-being. Evidence shows people who practice gratitude are less likely to be depressed. And while depression can make gratitude feel out of reach, it can be cultivated.
So practice noting what went well, instead of what went wrong. And celebrate every small win you can – even if it’s as simple as making the bed in the morning. The more you do this, the more you’ll train your brain to focus on the good.
9 – Have fun
I know when you’re depressed having fun is easier said than done. After all, one of the hallmark signs of depression is losing interest in things that you used to enjoy.
But push back against depression by doing things you used to love, even if you don’t feel like it. Whether that’s dancing, playing an instrument, hiking, or watching a funny movie – DO it. You just might find it helps lift your mood.
10 – Love your gut
Your brain and your gut are closely connected. Your gut bacteria help your body make happy neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine.
So if your gut health is out of whack, your mood may be too. In fact, there’s evidence that certain strains of harmful bacteria may increase depression.
But there is hope. By healing your gut, you can bring your microbiome back into balance – which can, in turn, improve your mood.
Working with a functional medicine doctor can help pinpoint any gut imbalances that may be affecting your mood.
Ease Depression and Improve Your Mood Naturally with Functional Medicine in Orland Park, IL
If you’re struggling with depression, the steps we’ve covered can help you get on the road to recovery.
But making healthy lifestyle changes can feel overwhelming when you’re depressed. So if you could use support – we’re here to help.
At Anchored in Health, our Functional Medicine Doctor uses lab testing to identify any gut imbalances that may be contributing to depression. From there, you’ll get a personalized treatment plan with dietary, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations to help you feel better soon.
So if you’re ready to improve your mood naturally, follow these steps:
- Contact us with questions or to learn more.
- Schedule your first appointment with Anchored in Health.
- Experience how functional medicine can help relieve depression and enhance your mental health.
Other Holistic Health Services Offered at Anchored in Health in Orland Park, IL
At Anchored in Health, functional medicine isn’t all we do. We offer a variety of health and wellness services to help you feel your best. This includes genetic testing, acupuncture, massage, thermograms, and the Shape ReClaimed program. Contact us to find out how we can help improve your health and well-being.