I’ve already written the preface to this article on my alternate blog, linked at the bottom.
In short, I explained that “depression” is a cluster of symptoms that academics and mainstream medicine diagnose as a chemical condition. It’s their job to deal with it in terms of pills and brain chemicals.
In contrast I acknowledged the chemical changes behind depression but encourage you to be more empowered and to solve the root of the problem in addition to using more natural means of dealing with depressive symptoms without resorting to mind-numbing medications.
In this post I will list everything that I know that can help eliminate depressive symptoms both immediately and in the long-term. To a lesser extent some will work for acute and probably chronic anxiety; if so I will specify that it does.
Immediate – This means the solution works almost immediately for fast relief. Usually for temporary, short-term use only.
Long-term – This means the solution works to your long term anti-depressive benefit. It does not guarantee immediate relief from depressive symptoms but this helps to create a healthy mind that discourages them from returning.
- 1 ALCAR – Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Highly Recommended, immediate short and long-term
- 2 5-HTP – Highly Recommended, immediate short-term
- 3 Vitamin B Complex – Highly Recommended, long-term
- 4 Omega-3: Fish and Flax – Highly Recommended, long-term
- 5 Vitamin D3 – Highly Recommended, long-term
- 6 Green Tea – Highly Recommended, immediate and long-term
- 7 Theanine – Recommended – short and long-term
- 8 Trace Minerals and Sea Salt – Recommended, long-term
- 9 St. John’s Wort – Recommended, temporary use
- 10 Coffee – Optional, immediate temporary use
- 11 Other things you can do
- 12 When you really need help
- 13 Linkage
ALCAR – Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Highly Recommended, immediate short and long-term
This is, IMO, the very first thing that should be tried.
ALCAR is one particular form of acetyl-L-carnitine that has a whole host of cognitive benefits, anti-depressive among them. For people who have neutral or negative responses to 5-HTP, it’s great to start here. It doesn’t seem to increase just serotonin, rather it helps the brain to make what it needs to get back in balance. 500 mg per day should do it for most people.
You can find ALCAR capsules here at Powder City.
5-HTP – Highly Recommended, immediate short-term
If you have problems with depressive symptoms and aren’t taking anything for it already, take this one right away while you get back on track.
5-HTP, when ingested, is transformed into serotonin in the body. Low serotonin is linked to depressive states and even panic and anxiety. 5-HTP brings up your serotonin and brings you out of a depressive state of mind. If you think low serotonin may be your problem, be sure to try it.
Try the time-release 5-HTP tablets, this ensures that as the body breaks down the supplement that you get a steady supply of serotonin rather than a quick spike and a slump. See my review of the time-release tablets. Most people may take up to 100 mg daily.
Note: Too much serotonin can have awful side effects. Start small and safe and see where it goes. When done correctly, many people swear by this stuff. I’ve successfully used it when I had a bad feeling of dread with anxiety in the past, it allowed me to feel okay and get to sleep easily. Do not take long-term.
Vitamin B Complex – Highly Recommended, long-term
So that you can be certain your depressive state is not the result of a nutritional deficiency, for daily use I recommend a simple B complex for all cognitive and nervous system health.
Omega-3: Fish and Flax – Highly Recommended, long-term
Yes, good old Omega-3 fatty acid. Good for your brain and your body. The fresher you can get it, the better. For whole sources of omega-3 try flaxseed meal, flaxseed oil, fish oil (comes in capsules) and/or cod liver oil. Eat some whole fish like salmon if possible but avoid the junk and farm-raised fish.
Vitamin D3 – Highly Recommended, long-term
Sunshine first. Get out and get some sunlight if possible for your vitamin D needs, about 15 minutes of bright sunlight a day. Since fall is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere at the time of this article and some gray days are coming, I recommend picking up some Vitamin D3 + K2 drops to supplement your natural sunlight exposure. While it’s not a magic bullet, it helps reduce depressive symptoms in the long term and improves your health.
Green Tea – Highly Recommended, immediate and long-term
Green tea has a moderate amount of caffeine but also has antioxidant compounds that are great for your mind and body, and contains the popular anti-anxiety amino l-theanine (mentioned below) which promotes a tranquil mind. I recommend brewing at least 1 liter per day of loose-leaf green tea in the best water you can get and drinking it while it’s warm. Next best thing is green tea bags. But loose-leaf is totally worth it.
Theanine – Recommended – short and long-term
As mentioned many times and by many others before and after me, theanine is the substance for anxiety (not necessarily depression). It’s good for tranquil focus without drowsiness and good if anxiety and stress plagues you.
Trace Minerals and Sea Salt – Recommended, long-term
You can get trace minerals from the right kind of sea salt (celtic sea salt for example) which are missing in regular, pure-chemical iodized salt. Alternatively you can get trace minerals in a dropper form which can be added to water or taken straight. Some key minerals include zinc, magnesium and iodine.
St. John’s Wort – Recommended, temporary use
St. John’s Wort has been hailed for a very long time as an anti-depressive herbal. I’d recommend it for acute depressive symptoms such as those for Seasonal Affective Disorder-type issues, not as a long-term thing as it has the potential for negative side effects. Worth looking into however as it is a serotonergic. Do not combine with other serotonergics (5-HTP for example) or certain medications.
Coffee – Optional, immediate temporary use
Coffee can help remove one from acute depressive symptoms and it’s widely available. Those depressed Seattleites drink it all the damn time, it’s where Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee brands come from. However coffee is a stimulant and not recommended for long-term use. Green tea is much better long-term but if you’ve already bought in to the devil’s bargain that is caffeine, keep drinking coffee but to a minimum as needed. Definitely not recommended for people who have any kind of anxiety as coffee can exacerbate things. Same goes for energy drinks and shots.
Consider cocoa and yerba mate for theobromine, a natural anti-depressive feel good chemical.
Other things you can do
Find your mission. Victor Pride over at Bold & Determined is all about the Path of Ass-Kicking. If you need a manual for getting yourself on track, he’s got that covered too with his 30 Days of Discipline.
Socialize. It’s unlikely that you have no friends whatsoever. Even the most diehard of introverts (example: me) have friends to socialize with on a regular basis. Even if you don’t have friends, even family members will do. Just find people that you enjoy spending time with and who make you feel good. It might be easier said than done, but being part of a group (not trying to fit in), no matter how large or small, is fulfilling in its own right. Humans are social creatures.
Get rid of the negative elements. If you’re already socializing but still feel bad, then you’ve got some nasty people among you. Avoid them. They are the energy vampires, the negative nancies, the “realist” cynics and pessimists out there. You know who they are. If you don’t, you’re lying to yourself. So relax, have a cup of green tea and sit out from going out on a night with them if they always leave you feeling miserable.
Get physical. For some reason, physical activity always helps with negative and depressive feelings. Weightlifting is one thing, but if you don’t have a gym membership or have limited equipment, calisthenics can help in a pinch. This means pull ups, pushups, situps. Also, riding a bike or just going for a long walk or jog can be great for those of you who are inclined to do cardio.
Testosterone. A biological male with low testosterone is bound to feel something missing. That thing is testosterone! Aside from lifestyle (weightlifting, having sex with beautiful girls, zinc/magnesium etc.) and mental things that help maintain good levels of testosterone (maintaining your dignity and self-respect, not being negative, finding your mission and sticking to it) you need to reduce your exposure to feminizing and anti-testosterone compounds: plastic phthalates, bisphenol A (don’t eat with any heated plastic and avoid it where possible) lavender, processed and non-fermented soy protein, and drinking city water can lower your test levels. Get your blood tested and consider testosterone replacement therapy if low-T is a serious issue for you.
Do something. Anything that you do to improve yourself proves to yourself that you’re taking steps toward doing the right thing, whatever that may be. It’s a self-reinforcing thing. Once you know that you really want to find your mission, your mind will help you take steps in the right direction to finding that mission. Improving yourself, your mind and your body proves to some inner part of you that you want to find this mission.
When you really need help
Talk to a therapist. Men aren’t as likely to seek help as women because it’s in man’s nature to not want to play victim or risk feeling weak by asking for help. This is normal when things are good, but if things are bad and you know they’re really bad, you need to talk to an expert to get the mental side of things resolved. Only they can help you on your way at this point.
We can only do so much on the chemical end of things, and sometimes our perspective can be so warped or rooted in old thoughts that we can’t see any way out of anything. At best, many of the above supplements can help expedite your journey on your road to recovery. So again: talk to an expert. You’ll know if you need to, especially if your depressive feelings are chronic.
My original article on depression
Thumotic — The Coming Suicide Epidemic
30 Days to X: Considering Suicide? Play Golf
Bold & Determined: How to cure depression the old-fashioned way
Bold & Determined: 19 Ways to Improve Your Mood