The top 10 natural antidepressants

Feeling blue? Find out how oysters, beans and hitting the snooze button can give you a boost.
By Kate Daley
The top 10 natural antidepressants Masterfile

1. Bust a move Break out your dancing shoes or runners and get your blood pumping. Studies have shown that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressants and psychotherapy, says naturopathic doctor Mary Caracoglia. Whether it’s joining a local swim club or taking après-dinner walks, schedule in your workouts and do them with a partner.

2. Get fat Ingesting good fats such as omega-3’s can have a positive affect on brain neurotransmitters and is critical for the functioning of the nervous system, says Caracoglia. Find omega-3 essential fatty acids in sources such as salmon and walnuts.

3. Get your daily dose Punch up your diet with a dose of daily vitamins. Experts recommend vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin D3 and tyrosine. Find them in foods like fish, oysters, beans, nuts, whole grains, leafy vegetables and fortified dairy products.

4. Get stuck Acupuncture has significant benefits for depressed adults and may be comparable in effectiveness to prescription anti-depressant medications, says Caracoglia. During a treatment pressure points are stimulated with either fingertips, heat or needles to release tension.

5. See the light Bright light early in the morning seems to be the most effective on mood, says Caracoglia. Along with natural sunshine, a number of trials have been conducted using light therapy and have shown they can have a positive effect as well.

6. Cut the crap Carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol and dairy can all cause your mood to plummet. Keep a food diary of the things you eat and the way you feel each day, says Caracoglia.  “In some cases, blood testing, skin testing, endoscopic biopsy (for gluten sensitivity), and elimination diets may be useful in diagnosing food sensitivities,” she adds.


7. Hit the snooze button Irritability and mood swings can often be chocked up to a lack of sleep. Experts recommend about eight hours a night but most people get less. Turn off your electronics a half an hour before bed and block out light and distractions with heavy noise-blocking curtains.

8. Eat breakfast We all know that breakfast is important in terms of nutrition but it also sets your mood for the day. Caracoglia encourages lots of carbohydrates and of course a little protein to promote stable blood sugar throughout the day. Add sliced almonds to your cereal or try nut butters on toast.

9. Have a zen moment Mind–body therapies such as meditation and yoga offer additional benefits, says Caracoglia. Meditation practice, particularly mindfulness meditation (moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awareness of breathing, physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts), can boost your mood and can change brain activation patterns in a positive way.

10. Natural remedies St. John’s Wort, a best-seller in the last decade, is a great remedy for mild to moderate depression, says Caracoglia. Gingko biloba is another great option for older patients who are also having circulatory issues. Make sure to check in with your physician before starting an herbal regime as many don’t mix well with other meds.

Find out more from Dr. Mary Caracoglia, B.Sc, ND at her locations, the Health Works Medical Centre, and the Centre for Women's Health,


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