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Natural Treatment Options for Depression

Depression is a serious ailment that 19 million Americans are currently experiencing. Many people have turned to antidepressants to treat their symptoms. While there are certainly many success stories regarding these medications, many people have not found them to be helpful. This is because the medication had no apparent effect, made the person emotionally flat, or caused various side effects that did not make it worth pursuing any further. Unfortunately, there are probably millions of Americans who feel enslaved by their depression, convinced there is no way out. People have suffered from depression throughout human history. Before we had pharmaceutical companies offering various drugs to help us cope, our ancestors used natural methods such as plants, food, meditation, and yoga to cure their mental imbalances. This was done for many centuries, which attests to the effectiveness of natural methods. Below is an overview of a few natural treatment options for depression that can offer hope to those who are caught in its web.

* Acupuncture: Practiced for over 2,500 years in various Asian cultures, acupuncture has made its way West where it is soaring in popularity. This safe and powerful system has been shown to boost serotonin levels and release endorphins. 5 Element acupuncture offers profound support for healing depression. I recommend getting one treatment a week for several weeks.

* Chinese Herbs: There are a variety of herbal formulas that can have a positive effect on the mind. Many of these formulas tonify one's Qi, or vital energy, to create more vitality and spirit.

* Meditation: I recommend using mindfulness meditation, which has been practiced for thousands of years, on a daily basis for several weeks. This practice cuts through the judging mind and creates space from depression. If you need help with starting a practice, I recommend my guided CD, Meditation: Mindfulness Practice for Beginners. Go to

* Yoga: Another ancient practice that is a virtual panacea for all stress related complaints. Yoga can have a profound impact on one's state of mind.

* Exercise: Get 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of cardiovascular exercise. This has been proven to boost serotonin and norepinephrine levels.

* Eat well: Give up refined sugar and caffeine, drink a lot of water, and eat mostly whole foods such as fish, fruits and vegetables.

* Supplement your diet: Take 3,000 mg of fish oil a day and consider taking 150mg of 5HTP a day. Fish oil contains essential fatty acids which are usually deficient in depressed people. 5HTP is a natural precursor to serotonin and can have many of the same benefits as antidepressants without the side effects. Do not combine 5 HTP with antidepressants.

Indeed, there are numerous alternative strategies for treating depression that are safe, balanced, and have stood the test of time. These therapies should only enhance your overall health and wellbeing without creating unwanted side effects that weaken certain systems of the body. If you follow even one or two of these guidelines for a period of 2 months, you will most likely feel lighter, more optimistic, and more in control of your life. Good luck!

About the author:
Kevin Doherty, L.Ac., MS is a licensed acupuncturist in private practice in Superior, Colorado and the staff acupuncturist for the integrative care department at Exempla hospital in Lafayette, Colorado. Kevin has helped many of his patients get off of Western medications including antidepressants. For more information, please visit


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