Five things to know before trying natural cures for depression

“It’s a bit like walking down a long, dark corridor never knowing when the light will go on.” – Neil Lennon on depression

Ups and downs are a part of life as are the occasional storms that can throw one off course. It is normal for a person to feel sad after the demise of a loved one, experience stress at his/her job or get anxious due to a physical ailment. But, if such feelings persist for long and the person continues to experience sadness, grief, guilt and hopelessness every day, it could be the start of the development of a major depressive disorder.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), states that approximately 16.1 million adults or 6.7 percent of the population aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode in 2015.

Since, major depression is a common mental disorder in the U.S., there are a number of treatment options available. Among these, natural cures are often believed to be the safest. This, in turn, inclines more people to opt for them without consulting a mental health expert, which, is undeniably risky.

Before a person opts for natural remedies to fight depression, he/she should be aware of the several risk factors associated with them. Some major concerns shared by experts are:

  1. No clinical evidence: There is no clinical evidence to suggest that natural cures are safe or even effective for treating depression. Any treatment option should only be opted for when it has been declared safe by medical experts.
    Andrew F. Leuchter, MD and vice-chair of psychiatry at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at University of California feels that though natural remedies for depression might result in improvements in mood and other symptoms, their success is subjective and the evidence inconclusive.
    Moreover, natural remedies are neither regulated nor approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which adds to their risk factor.
  1. Interact negatively: There is a high probability of natural remedies interacting negatively with other medications, if not taken in consultation with an expert. Even while there are a number of natural supplements that are deemed to be safe, their behavior and action needs to be studied before being used.
  1. Increased risk of self-harm: Self-harm and suicidal tendencies are common in individuals affected by depression. But, the risk escalates when the person abruptly stops taking medications and begins his/her natural cure for depression.
    One must never stop taking medications or therapy without consulting his/her doctor as this will not only have severe effects on his/her mental health but, can also prove to be fatal.
  1. Less reliable: For an individual seeking help for depression, it is important to understand that undergoing treatment using medications, especially in severe cases, is the safest option. Although, medications might have their own side effects, these cannot be replaced by natural remedies to treat depression.
  1. Longer duration: A person who is depressed needs instant help and therefore, it is essential that the chosen treatment acts quickly on him/her. Natural cures for depression take a much longer time to deliver the desired results. And, this can prove to be detrimental, especially if the condition is severe.

Seeking help

Leuchter feels that in the guise of using natural remedies, people do not get treatment for the actual condition for years, slipping into more serious forms of clinical depression or anxiety disorders, in no time.

It is important to understand that natural cures can be a part of treatment but, relying completely on them to treat depression can have limited results, especially without consulting a mental health expert.

If you or someone you know is dealing with depression or any other form of mental illness, 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can assist you with details about the best mental health programs in your vicinity. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with our mental health specialist to know about the most suitable mental health counseling programs offered at eminent mental health facilities in the U.S.