Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, loss of interest in normal activities, unexplained pain, fatigue, and insomnia are all symptoms of depression, a mood disorder that impacts 20 million American adults. Talk therapy can help, but doctors often prescribe antidepressants that can cause constipation, dizziness, and weight gain. Before shelling out for meds, consider one of these low-cost depression home remedies.
Snack on Popcorn
The salty snack is packed with a carbohydrate that scientists say ups the production of the “happiness hormone” serotonin for 4 hours. Plus, popcorn’s crunchy texture and buttery flavor prompt the brain to produce energizing beta waves, an effect that can raise alertness by 25 percent in 5 minutes, say researchers at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Simply munch on a cup of the snack whenever you’re feeling down.
Soak Up the Sun
Sun exposure helps us generate vitamin D, which the body uses to ramp up serotonin production. Indeed, 15 scientific studies found that optimizing D levels was every bit as effective as prescription antidepressants — sans side effects. Tip: Get out early and leave your sunglasses at home — tinted lenses block the bright AM light that alerts cells in your eyes to signal your body to churn out serotonin.
Take a 5-HTP Supplement
When your can’t shake a blue mood, you may be lacking in 5-HTP, an amino acid needed to produce serotonin. Swiss scientists say taking 100 mg. of 5-HTP can correct a serotonin shortfall four times faster than antidepressants, without side effects. The result? Improved mood within three days. Try: Pure Encapsulations 5-HTP 100 mg. ( )
The Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping, is a DIY form of acupressure that’s been shown to reduce symptoms of depression by 72 percent after just four sessions. All it takes is tapping your fingertips on a series of acupressure points, which aids the body’s release of mood-lifting serotonin and dopamine. For a step-by-step video tutorial, check out the video on The Tapping Solution’s “Tapping 101” page.
Go For a Short Walk
“Interval walking reduces depression enough to help many women get off antidepressants,” says psychonutritionist Shawn Talbott, PhD. He explains that the stress hormone cortisol can build up and block the activity of mood-boosting neurotransmitters. “But intervals help the body ‘use’ excess cortisol,” he says.
In fact, one study found that exercising three times per week improved depression just as effectively as taking antidepressants. To get the benefits, walk for 20 minutes three times per week, switching between walking at a comfortable stroll for 3 minutes and walking briskly for 1 minute.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Save on Healthcare (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).
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