Healing Depression Naturally
By Kumiko Yamamoto, L.Ac.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten
Americans suffers from depression. Deep sadness and even hopelessness may
overwhelm the body, and lead to many symptoms including exhaustion, insomnia
and even physical pain.
The causes of depression are vast. Deficiency of certain neurotransmitters is closely associated with
depression. These include serotonin, which regulates moods and sleep; dopamine, which regulates oneís
drive to seek rewards; and norepinephrine, which helps manage stressful situations. Other factors, like
nutritional deficiency, chronic illness, and stress also play a role. These factors are often inevitable
in a busy lifestyle. The key is how we support the body and mind as we move through these challenges.
Antidepressant medications can help and may be necessary in some cases, but they do not help
all depression patients and many have serious side-effects. They are not the only option as
there are other natural ways for moving through depression.
1. Exercise is extremely important as it increases the production of endorphins, neurotransmitters that
produce a sense of happiness and well-being. Exercising outdoors helps even more as being in the sunshine
also increases endorphins.
2. Meditation produces deep relaxation and reduces cortisol (a steroidal hormone), which has been
correlated with depression. Studies also show that Tai Chi, a form of moving meditation, is effective in
the treatment of depression and
3. Nutrition plays a vital role with brain chemistry. The precursor to serotonin, L-tryptophan,
is found in many foods, such as spirulina, soy, spinach, sesame seeds, turkey, and more. Omega-3 fatty
acids, found in flaxseeds, salmon, and walnuts, are important for proper brain function. Other key
nutrients include folate, vitamin B6, and magnesium which are found in many leafy greens, such as spinach
and collard greens.
4. Acupuncture increases the production of endorphins, leading to deep relaxation and reduction in
Anxiety. Chinese herbal medicine is also an effective way to treat depression. Each herbal
formula is tailored to address the individualís unique presentation of depression and its accompanying
5. All people have the power to transform challenges in their lives. One needs only to be
open, to express and explore. Talk therapy and support groups are available. Expression and
exploration of feelings in a safe environment can help you move out of stagnancy and towards balance,
harmony and wellness.