Are you down in the dumps or feeling lifeless, aggressive and lethargic? If so, you are prone to depression which may turn out to be a serious problem for you .There may be many reasons for depression like struggles of life, setbacks, unemployment, grief, trauma and financial troubles (1), or indeed you may be sufferring from postpartum depression. You can identify it by various sign and symptoms including mood swings, too much or less sleep, lack of concentration, feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness, uncontrolled negative thinking, loss of appetite or overeating, more alcohol consumption, loss of interest in social activities and sex, weight loss or gain, trouble remembering things, physical complaints like stomach pain, back pain, headache and aching muscles, indecisiveness, escapist behaviour like dangerous sports, reckless driving, compulsive gambling and substance abuse, strong feeling of guilt, feeling physically drained or sluggish (2).
Here are some home remedies to get rid of depression in an effective manner.
Home Remedies for Depression
1. Exercise and Meditation
Daily workout or exercise is essential for a healthy body and may have long-term benefits for the depressed people as it temporarily boosts up endorphins (“feel good” chemical and natural anti-depressants), which encourage the mind to think positively and make you happy (3, 4). You should exercise 3 times a week for minimum twenty minutes. You can perform jogging, weight lifting, walking, cycling, rope jumping, and yoga to alleviate depression (5, 6, 7). Physical activity can be as simple as walking or getting involved in vigorous gym exercises or joining a team sport (8, 9). Exercise is an easy and cost effective way to solve the problem of depression, moreover it does not have any side effects on the body like that of anti-depressant drugs (10, 11).
Several studies have been done to prove the relationship between exercise and depression. They all have proved that both aerobic and non aerobic exercises have considerably reduced symptoms of depression (12).
- Do meditation every day for 45 minutes, to overcome depression. Choose a quite place for it. Switch off your phone and regulate your breathing while doing meditation (13).
2. Have Proper Diet
Ignoring meals, poor diet, craving for sugar are some of the food patterns that lead to depression (14). A low-fat diet, comprising of veggies and fruits, is essential for keeping your sugar level stable. Foods enriched in folic acid and omega-3 fatty acid may reduce mood swings and help ease depression as these foods provide you instant energy that keeps your body active and fit and helps your mind feel relax (15, 16).
- Moreover, serotonin-enhancing diet (popcorn, oatmeal, nuts, egg whites, peanut butter, Cottage cheese, etc) is also considered good for people facing depression (17). It is a best cure to get over seasonal depression. Eating complex carbohydrate food induces brain to produce more serotonin (18, 19, 20). Don’t eat protein rich diet as it decreases serotonin levels (21).
- Vitamin B-12 and folate together produces monoamines like dopamine and serotonin which are responsible to control mood swings and depression (22). Bupropion, a particular dopamine has been medically approved by controlled studies for the treatment of depression (23). These chemicals directly impact the mood, so you should make your diet vitamin-rich by including cheese, fish, shellfish, bell peppers, spinach and turkey (24, 25).
- The low level of magnesium decreases serotonin level in the brain. Magnesium is a very essential mineral that regulates various biochemical functions in the body and helps deal with depression (26). It have been proved through various clinical studies that magnesium supplements can effectively treat depression (27, 28). Take magnesium-rich food such as dark green leafy veggies, nuts, soymilk, boiled spinach, banana, cooked black beans, and roasted cashew or almonds (29, 30).
3. Set Goals
A depressed person may feel sluggish and sloth, and often complains of lack of concentration. The incomplete tasks may add to your depression level, so it’s better to set daily and realistic goals (31, 32). Accomplishment of daily small tasks may make you feel good and reduce depression (33, 34).
4. Involve in Interesting Activities
Whenever you feel depressed, try to do something of your interest. You can read books, take a culinary or language class, visit museum or listen to music. These new activities can alter the level of dopamine in your brain, thereby reduce depression (35).
5. Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep may worsen the problem of depression (36, 37). Therefore, you should get enough sleep to treat yourself. Set your daily routine and make some changes in your lifestyle. Go to bed at the same time every day to improve your sleeping habits. Sleeping assists you to think better so that you can handle problems without getting stressed. Adults should take 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night to feel relaxed (38, 39). Students mostly face depression problem, to overcome it they must avoid late night study sessions and get enough sleep (40).
While sleeping the immune system of our body produces a protein called cytokines. These proteins are needed by our body when we feel depressed or stressed. Lack of sleep can decrease the level of cytokines resulting in symptoms of depression (41).
6. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain tyrosine, which helps our body to produce mood affecting component called dopamine. People who are depressed have low level of tyrosine, that is why researchers thought that tyrosine plays an important role in symptoms of depression but studies proved that there is no effect of tyrosine on depression (42). Although, the L-tryptophan, an amino acid found in pumpkin seeds plays a major role in curing depression (43, 44, 45). Many studies like Fernstrom, 2013, Badrasawi et al., 2013, Neumeister et al., 1998, etc were performed to examine the role of tryptophan in mood change and depression (46).
7. Writing Therapy
Write down your painful and emotional feelings on paper. The writing habit improves your depressed condition and makes you feel lighter. According to a study performed, it is found that expressive writing is an excellent cure for people with Major Depressive Disorder (47, 48).This therapy is also found very useful for women who are sufferer of domestic violence and also for college students (49).
A Norwegian trial of overweight subjects proved that people given high dose of vitamin D had less depression symptoms as compared to others who were given dose of placebo. This study proved a relation between vitamin D and depression (50). Get some sunshine to refresh your mood (51). Vitamin D in sunlight balances the brain hormones, thereby cure depression during fibromyalgia, seasonal affective disorder and premenstrual syndrome (52). Use artificial sun lamp during dark weather to reduce seasonal stress.
Eat apple with honey and milk, or drink apple juice to rejuvenate your mind. Potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B, and phosphorous in apples prevent nerve cells from damage. Vitamin C enhance immune system and reduces depression by lowering the level of cortisol, a stress hormone (53).
Antidepressant drugs have many side effects, therefore herbal psychopharmacology research has increased and emphasis is on using herbal remedies for treatment of depression. According to a clinical trial, saffron supplementation can decrease symptoms of depression in adults facing major depressive disorder (54). Antidepressant properties of saffron has also been proved in a recent meta-analysis. This analysis depicts use of saffron to overcome mild-to-moderate depression (55, 56).
Also, the use of petal of C. sativus for the treatment of mild depression was successfully proved in double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized trial (57).
Consume a pinch of saffron directly or add it to your food. Take it on regular basis to cure mild depression.
11. Rose Petals
Rose petals have healing properties. Rose oil cures nervous stress and depression (58). The anti depressant activity of rose petals is based on the fact that it stimulates the β-adrenergic receptors, and inhibits functioning of the histamine H1 receptors and KCl-related contraction, it also blocks the calcium channels of tracheal chain thereby showing the relaxant activity (59). Take 20-30 fresh rose petals and boil them in water for fifteen minutes. Add sugar and drink this mixture. Repeat it 2-3 times a day.
Prepare tea and add powdered cardamom seeds to it. Or else, take a cup of hot water and add 2 cardamom’s powder and sugar to it. Sip it slowly.
A study proved effective effects of coffee against symptoms of depression (60). Caffeine, a component of coffee is a central nervous system stimulant, therefore consumption of coffee relieves depression (61). A study done in 2011 also proved hat drinking coffee decreases risk of depression among women (62).
Note – Don’t take more than 2 cups of coffee in a day as it may enhance depression.
According to a randomized controlled trial it has been found that Curcumin, a bright yellow compound found in turmeric can be widely used to overcome depression because of its anti depressant properties (63). Turmeric may prove to be an effective remedy to get rid of depression caused due to seasonal changes. It has been proved in many studies that Curcumin wards off depression by stimulating the process of neuro-genesis and increasing the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin (64).
15. Ginger Tea
Take 1 tsp of ginger powder and boil it in hot water for a few minutes. Let it cool down. Take it twice a day to cure depression.
A study proves that the extract of garlic showed significant anti depressant activity by interacting with serotonergic, adrenergic and dopaminergic system, and hindering the MAO-A and MAO-B levels (65). Garlic is one of the best home remedies to overcome chronic depression, insomnia and fatigue, so add garlic in your daily diet.
Oatmeal helps overcome anxiety and depression by increasing serotonin levels and decreasing stress hormones, this triggers feeling of calmness (66, 67). Take one cup of soy or rice milk and add 4-5 tsp of oatmeal to it. Cook well. Add honey and dry fruits to it. Consume it daily as it relaxes your brain.
18. Cashew Nuts
Niacin, a form of Vitamin B3 is used in the treatment of depression. Cashew nuts are good source of Vitamin B3 (68, 69). Take eight cashew nuts and grind them. Have this powder with a glass of milk. Repeat it on regular basis.
Hydrotherapy or water therapy is used in the treatment of various systems like that of nervous system, Musculo skeletal system, cardiovascular system, etc. Hydrotherapy which is useful for painful condition is based on the fact that Pressure and temperature of water in this therapy, curbs nociceptors by acting on thermal receptors and mechanoreceptors and exerts positive effect on spinal segmental mechanisms.
Forty sessions of Ai Chi aquatic exercise (AE) program cures depression in patients facing problem of multiple sclerosis (70).
Cold shower is also an effective treatment for depression as it enhances the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and activates sympathetic nervous system. High density of cold water in the skin generates electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain (71, 72).
Massage therapies are based on the fact that mind and body are interconnected. When your body is relaxed, you feel healthy. Touch therapies boost feeling of calmness in your mind and body, thus helps overcome depression (73).
The synergistic blend of lavender and bergamot oils provide evidence for its use in medicinal purpose for treating depression. Use this mixture for calming massage (74). According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, it has been concluded that an estimated 18 million U.S. adults and 700,000 children n America used massage therapy for various health related purposes, including depression.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy which have different styles like that of trigger point acupuncture, single point acupuncture, auricular acupuncture and traditional/classical acupuncture. The theory of acupuncture is based on the fact of maintaining health by correcting the imbalance of energy in the body (76). Studies have been performed which resulted that acupuncture is an effective antidepressant monotherapy. But still further investigations are needed (77).
22. Guided Imagery
In this therapy, music, words, and/or visualisations are used to evoke optimistic images in the mind of depressed person. Positive changes are brought by using the connection between mind and body.
An experimental group used A quasi-experimental design to describe the effectiveness of a guided imagery intervention for decreasing depression. The outcome of this study showed significant results in using guided imagery technique to overcome depression (78, 79).
23. Light Therapy
If the depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), generally known as ‘winter blues’, caused due to less natural sunlight, then consider light therapy. In this, the depressed person is exposed to light box for at least ½ an hour every morning. This box imitates the outdoor light which brings chemical changes in the brain, thereby uplift your mood and ease the symptoms of depression (80, 81).
This therapy is about 20 years old. Physicians and clinicians are also trying to find out the efficacy of light therapy for nonseasonal depression (82).
24. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This is a short-term therapy that focuses on the thoughts of the depressed person and helps develop an optimistic outlook. You can express your thoughts and feelings without any hesitation in front of the therapist. The expert will let you know how to bring positive changes in your behaviour and thoughts. It is very useful for moderate depression (83, 84, 85).
Out of 269 meta-analytic studies, 106 meta-analyses were examined and these analyses proved use of CBT to overcome depression (86).
25. Dark chocolates
Dark chocolates contains cocoa, which not only satisfy your taste buds, but it also enhances mood and boosts cognitive function by increasing the production of serotonin and endorphin (). Many studies have proved that eating dark chocolate daily is very beneficial for people suffering from high anxiety problems (88).
One study proved the relation between emotional stress and chocolate consumption. They are parallel to each other (89).
Herbal Remedies for Depression
Below given are some natural remedies for depression.
26. Chamomile Tea
A depressed person may experience the problem of insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders that can be cured by flavonoids present in chamomile tea (90). Prepare tea by adding 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile leaves or a tea bag in a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 5-7 minutes. Add a little bit of milk and honey if you like. Have a cup of tea daily, thirty minutes before bedtime.
- Alternatively, you can also use chamomile flowers. These flowers contain essential oils. Inhalation of vaporised essential oils alleviates depression (91).
The 2009 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study proved the use of chamomile for the treatment of depression (92). Another study showed that this herb can also be given to postpartum women to reduce sleep quality problems and depression (93).
27. Green Tea
Drink a cup of green tea in the morning with your breakfast to get rid of depression. Green tea contains L-theanine which acts as a powerful mood enhancer and reduces your depression.
A Cross-sectional study was performed to know the relation between consumption of green tea and depression. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale was used to measure depressive symptoms. This Multiple logistic regression analysis conformed that higher consumption of green tea reduces depression (94). The anti depressive effect of Green tea also reduces oxidative stress and post-stroke depression (95).
28. Holy Basil Leaves
Holy basil is one of the best remedy to treat depression as it acts as an adaptogen, which helps in the optimal functioning of the body during depression (96). Take 1000-2500 mg of leaves per day to reduce the stress level.
Wild Ginseng helps overcome depression caused due to morphine withdrawal by modulating the hypothalamus CRF and NPY systems (97). Also, Ginseng is an adaptogen, which is a substance that assists body to survive mental or physical stress (98). Take one or two grams of ginseng root in the form of powder once a day for 3 months to deal with the depression. You can also take 1 or 2 teaspoons of ginseng tincture 3 times a day to cure the stress.
30. Lemon Balm Tea
A few comparative studies proved anti depressant activity of lemon balm (99). It is also considered as calming balm and it is traditionally used to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression (100, 101). You can use this herb in form of capsules, coated pills or applied topically. For lemon balm tea, add 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon balm leaves in a cup of boiling water. Steep it for a few minutes. Strain it and drink on a regular basis to treat severe depression.
Methanolic extract of roots of asparagus showed considerable anti depressant activity, that is why this herb is used as an adaptogen (102). Use dried asparagus roots to make powder. Take one to two grams of this powder once a day to get rid of stress.
32. Spikenard or Nardostachys
The extracts of Spikenard or Nardostachys acts as a mild sedative and has nerve relaxing properties that induces calming effects on the brain (103). Use the roots and rhizome of this herb to relieve stress.
Monoamine hypothesis is the most popular theory for the pathogenesis of depression. According to this theory, the insufficiency of central monoamines like dopamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine and noradrenaline is responsible for depression. Nutmeg enhances the concentration of these neurotransmitters in the brain, hence it proves to be an outstanding remedy to cure depression (104). Fragrant Nutmeg, Mitragyna Speciosa are its popular types. The effect of Nutmeg is dose-related (105).
Take 1/8 tsp of nutmeg powder. Add fresh gooseberry juice to it. Take it thrice a day in order to overcome depression.
The anti depressant activity of Licorice extract can be determined by increase of brain neurotransmitter, dopamine and norepinephrine (106). Take licorice powder with milk or drink 1-3 cups of licorice tea to alleviate depression.
Note – Pregnant woman, people with high blood pressure, liver disease, heart problem, and renal disease should avoid licorice in any form.
35. Sage and Basil Leaves
Sage is not only useful in treating minor ailments but it also plays a vital role in curing depression (107, 108). It is available in form of dried leaves, essential oils, liquid extract and sprays. It is a traditional remedy to boost mood (109). Mix ¼ tsp of basil leaves and ½ tsp of sage leaves in a cup of hot water to prepare a tea. Take it twice a day to reduce depression.
Several human investigations have proved mood stabiliser and neuroprotective properties of lavender (110). Continuous exposure to lavender oil for 7 days can remarkably remove symptoms of depression (111).
A study used a quasi-experimental design to find out the effect of aromatherapy on depression using lavender, peppermint, marjoram, eucalyptus and rosemary oils blended in proportions of 2:1:2:1:1. The result showed significant decrease in depression symptoms (112). A clinical trial also proved efficient use of lavender oil in postpartum depression. Aroma of this oil when inhaled for 4 weeks can help overcome depression after childbirth (113). The British Pharmacopoeia also approved lavender tincture to fight depression (114).
- Take 1 tsp of lavender leaves and boil them with one cup of water. Strain and allow it to cool down. Take the solution thrice a day.
- Alternatively, you can also add 2 or 4 drops of lavender oil in 3 cups of boiling water. Inhale vapors for curing depression (115).
Note: Consult doctor before using essential oil for inhalation as it causes lung irritation in many people.
37. Sandalwood Powder
Sandalwood powder soothes the mind and helps get rid of depression. Add some water to the sandalwood powder and apply the resultant paste on the forehead regularly.
38. Commiphora Mukul
Dry some resins of commiphora mukul. Put them on the burning coal. Inhale the smoke for some time. The herb is good for rejuvenating the mind and strengthening nervous system.
39. Bacopa Monnieri
In a study it was found that a group of Bacopa Monnieri recipients showed decrease in depression symptoms (116). Also, the standardized methanolic extract of Bacopa monniera was tested for anti depressant properties. The dose of 20 and 40 mg/kg was given for 5 days and it was found that there was considerable antidepressant activity (117). Take 5 gm of bacopa monnieri and add it to a glass of milk. Consume it once daily. You can also use bacopa monnieri oil to massage your head, in order to deal with depression.
40. Ginkgo Biloba
Animal studies suggest that Ginkgo biloba extract decreases CRH activity, this activity is significantly associated with mood swings and depression (118). The dried and crushed leaves of Ginkgo Biloba help relieve stress by stimulating the brain to release neurotransmitters and increasing the blood flow to the brain (119).
The major symptoms of the depression can be treated by aromatherapy. Use essential oils like sandalwood, lavender, basil, ylang-ylang, geranium, angelica, jasmine, chamomile, and rosemary, for spraying in your room or massaging your body. You can also pour a few drops of any of these oils in your bath water for a relaxing experience (120).
Note – Those people who are allergic to aroma should not use aromatherapy.
Many studies proved Peppermint oil’s relaxation-promoting effects on gastrointestinal tissue. Gastrointestinal disorder is one of the stress generated symptom that can be overcome by peppermint oil (121).
Food based strategies has examined mint for its anti depressant properties (122).
Note: People suffering from kidney stones, GI reflux and hiatal hernia should use this remedy cautiously.
43. Barley Tea
Barley Tea is an outstanding remedy to overcome stress and depression because it helps in production of tryptophan, an amino acid essential for sleep. This amino acid produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter which control mood swings (123, 124).
44. Passion Flower
According to a recent study it has been found that Passion flower is equivalent to oxazepam, a medically approved anxiolytic drug, used in the treatment of anxiety disorder. You can use this herb to cope with nervous tension, sleep disorder and anxiety (125).
45. Valerian root
Although, there is no scientific evidence on use of Valerian root, but it is safe to use this herb for a short time period of less than a month for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety (126). This is a traditional remedy to treat depression (127, 128). Sesquiterpenes fractioned from the root of Valerian is responsible for antidepressant activity of this herb (129).
- Stick to a routine and learn to manage your time (130).
- Take proper sleep of at least eight hours (131).
- Divert yourself whenever negative or pessimistic thoughts hover in your mind.
- Share your problems or emotions with friends or family members (132, 133).
- Be active and exercise regularly (134).
- Don’t isolate yourself, keep yourself busy with friends and work (135).
- Avoid tobacco, alcohol, junk foods and drugs (136).
- Cut down the excessive intake of caffeine as it reduces the serotonin levels in the brain (137).
- Refrain from overusing antidepressant drugs.
- Never skip meals as it is very essential to control blood sugar levels, which directly or indirectly affects your mood.
- Don’t take any important decision while you are depressed (138).