Natural Treatments for Depression |

Natural Treatments for Depression

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS
October 22, 2020
Natural Treatments for Depression

The most common ways to treat depression are through medication, counseling, or a combination of both. However, people are not always comfortable with the prospect of taking antidepressant medication due to stigma, side effects, or fear. Additionally, some individuals are resistant to seeking therapy. For the people who fall into these categories, relief may be found through the following natural treatments:

Healthy Nutrition

Food can have a significant influence on a person’s mood. Some research has shown that maintaining an anti-inflammatory diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, can help decrease the risk for depression. Omega-3 foods, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, probiotic foods, and protein are all important in supporting cognitive functioning, improving energy, and boosting mood.

Avoid Carbohydrates and Sugars

Foods high in carbohydrates release serotonin, which can improve mood for brief periods of time. This is why you often see characters on television and in movies consuming cake, cookies, or potato chips. Despite a momentary mood boost, processed and fatty foods high in sugar are actually associated with an increased risk of depression. These foods can lead to weight gain, sleeping issues, and a lack of energy and also have the tendency to potentially worsen the symptoms of depression.

Fish Oil

Omega-3 fats are important in maintaining emotional and physical equilibrium in the brain. Research has proven that treating depression with omega-3 fatty acids can actually help to reduce symptoms of depression.


Research has shown that there are direct avenues of communication between the gut and the brain. Probiotics are helpful in avoiding sharp increases and decreases in blood sugar levels, help with the absorption of nutrients, and can trigger positive changes in brain chemistry. Probiotics can enhance cognitive functioning and reduce symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D supplements can be used to treat depression, as it alters vitamin levels similarly to antidepressant medications. Vitamin D functions like a hormone in the body and impacts brain functioning and moods. Increasing vitamin D can reduce the risk of depression.

B-Complex Vitamins

Low levels of folate and vitamin B-12 have been linked to symptoms of depression. Vitamin B-12 enhances cognition, elevates energy, and decreases irritability. Taking a B-complex vitamin will assist the natural production of serotonin, which will relieve depressive symptoms.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort can be used to treat mild to moderate depression. St. John’s Wort has an ability to increase levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinepherine in the brain, all of which help elevate mood.       


Ginseng has been used for an extensive period of time in Chinese medicine, as it is said to increase mental precision, improve energy, and reduce stress. Ginseng has been suggested as a possible mechanism to treat the lack of energy and low motivation that is associated with depression.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are effective in altering emotions. Lavender is an essential oil that people use to relax, decrease anxiety, and improve moods. Lavender has historically been utilized for medicinal usage due to its soothing effects. Roman chamomile is another essential oil that can promote relaxation and reduce worry. 

Although these treatments should not be considered as an alternative to seeking help from a professional therapist or listening to the advise of your physician, they are worth considering. They may health alleviate some symptoms and improve your overall mood.

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy  facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.

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