It’s summer! Most people take time during this season to participate in fun activities such as days at the beach, backyard BBQs, and outdoor concerts. But not everyone has that same experience. In fact, you may find yourself sleeping way too much, having no energy, and feeling down. So, what’s the deal?
Well, you may be suffering from a case of the “summertime blues.”
Did you know that these could actually be an indicator of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD? Contrary to what many believe, SAD is not reserved solely for winter, and can also occur in spring, summer, and fall. Furthermore, SAD is not an actual “unique mood disorder,” but rather an indicator that major clinical depression might be present. And that’s nothing to mess around with. Major clinical depression affects nearly 20 million adults in the United States each year.
While medication is often prescribed as a treatment for depression, natural cures do exist as well. Here are five of the best natural cures for your case of summertime blues!
Change Your Diet
One of the major players with a role in causing depression is serotonin. Having low levels of this chemical increases your chance of developing depression. Antidepressants like Prozac work to increase and normalize serotonin levels, but you don’t necessarily have to turn to medication. To mimic Prozac’s action, you can change your diet in a way that will eliminate or greatly reduce factors that inhibit serotonin levels, while eating more of the things that increase levels. For example, you should avoid caffeine, and try to eat more foods with protein, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids – like nuts, coconut oil, turkey, salmon, sardines, and herring.
Get Physically Active
Even though depression may make you feel like you have no energy and cause you to sleep more, it’s important to roll yourself out of bed and exercise a little. You’ll thank yourself for it later! That’s because exercise releases endorphins, which are those feel-good chemicals that act like a natural antidepressant, and causes the infamous “Runner’s high.”
Better known as St. John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum is an herb that serves as a powerful natural antidepressant. Even though it’s not approved by the FDA in the United States, our neighbors in Europe rely heavily on this herb to treat depression. A word of caution, however: do not take this if you are taking any other medication for HIV/AIDS, antidepressants, or organ transplant drugs, as it can interfere with their effectiveness.
Pronounced “Sammy,” S-adenosyl-L-methionine is a naturally-occurring chemical found within our bodies. Like St. John’s wort, it increases the levels of serotonin and dopamine. Also like St. John’s wort, it’s not currently supported by the FDA even though it enjoys widespread use throughout Europe. But it can easily be found as an over-the-counter supplement in many health stores.
Soak in the Sun
As with the physical activity, if you feel too unmotivated to get out of the house and face the summer heat, tell yourself that it’s for your own good. Getting just 15 minutes to a half hour of sunlight each day can increase vitamin D levels and boost your mood. If you don’t get a lot of sun where you live, or can’t stand the heat, you should look into purchasing a therapeutic light box.
While enjoying the sunlight for a half hour each day may sound like a silly treatment, real doctors who are treating depressed patients actually recommend investing in a light box or seeking more sunlight, in conjunction with their medication. For an all-natural remedy, substitute the medications for the herbs mentioned previously. If you really want to teach that depression a thing or two, try doing yoga in the sunlight, in addition to taking the herbs. Yoga is a relaxing activity that can be done by anyone . . . no, you don’t have to be able to bend in weird ways to reap the benefits, or be young and slim! And, yoga has been shown to reduce anger, depression, and anxiety. Because breathing technique is a major focus in yoga, you can be sure that you’ll be left feeling calm, in control, and happier than ever.
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Colenso, Maria. “10 Natural Remedies for Depression.” Discovery.com. Discovery Fit & Health, n.d. Web. 8 July 2012. <https://health.discovery.com/tv/psych-week/articles/natural-remedies-for-depression.html>.
Rankin, Lissa. “11 Natural Treatments For Depression.” Care2.com. N.p., 4 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 July 2012. <https://www.care2.com/greenliving/11-natural-treatments-for-depression-an-mds-tips-for-skipping-the-prozac.html>.
Hall-Flavin, M.D., Daniel K. “Depression.” MayoClinic.com. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 8 July 2012. <https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/natural-remedies-for-depression/AN02087/>.
Wong, Cathy. “Depression Remedies.” About.com. About.com Alternative Medicine, 28 May 2012. Web. 8 July 2012. <https://altmedicine.about.com/od/healthconditionsatod/a/Depression1.htm>.