Depression isn’t specific to one job or age group. It can affect anyone. It can come on quickly and hit hard or it can be subtle and hang over your head throughout your whole busy week. Many who deal with depression, seek the help from doctors and take antidepressants.

While antidepressants can be a great refuge for people with serious, debilitating depression, many with more mild symptoms, could benefit more from natural sources of relief. These natural alternatives to medication provide a lot of the same benefits as antidepressants but without the nasty side effects commonly associated with them.

Read on to learn how to support your mood naturally with these alternatives to antidepressant medications.


1. St. John’s Wort

Some antidepressant alternatives, including some discussed below, simply address the symptoms of depression by relaxing our bodies. St. John’s Wort is an example of a natural alternative that addresses our emotional imbalances at the source: our brains.

This herb directly increases serotonin levels (the “happy” hormone), which are low in people who have chronic depression. It is a milder, natural alternative to medications your doctor would prescribe for depression.

It’s worth noting, however, that St. John’s Wort, like many supplements, can interact with medications like blood thinners. Check with a doctor before starting on a new supplement.


2. SAM-e

SAM-e is another supplement that helps regulate hormones and body processes directly, reducing the symptoms of depression in many people who take it regularly. SAM-e is an abbreviation for a chemical that already exists in our bodies, with a complicated name that none of us need to know (it’s S-adenosylmethionine).

By replenishing this chemical, SAM-e supplements can reduce instances of depression, though this supplement is not as well-researched as some others.


3. Lavender

Lavender is one of the most mass-produced stress-relief herbs and works as a natural alternative to antidepressants by calming and supporting our mood. Products derived from lavender often advertise their uses as anxiety relievers and sleep aids.

You can take lavender in a ton of different ways, from scented hand creams to liquid supplements to flavored foods. Just remember that lavender has a general calming effect, not a direct chemical change in your brain that will reduce depression at the source. For mild symptoms or just as a general anxiety-reliever, however, it’s easy to find and pleasant in all its forms.

I recommend a lavender-infused mist that comes in a spray bottle. Just one squirt on my pillow helps me get to sleep after a long day.


4. Omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are a superstar when it comes to healthy food due to their use in heart-healthy diets. However, you may not know that they’re also useful as a natural source of anxiety relief.

They do this by reducing inflammation in your body, which is a known cause of the stress hormone, cortisol. This has mild relieving effects on mood and can reduce mild depression symptoms.

While not recommended for those with sensitive stomachs or blood clotting disorders, Omega-3 fatty acids can provide a safe natural alternative to antidepressants in mild cases.


5. Magnesium

While not as well-documented as other supplements, Magnesium deficiencies have been linked with lower serotonin levels. Most of us lack magnesium anyway, since alcohol, antacids, and our precious caffeinated coffee drains our supply.

The problem with Magnesium is that our bodies have trouble absorbing it. Make sure you research your supplements before buying them, so you know they’re effective.


The Takeaway

Antidepressants can be necessary, but they can also be a burden due to their many side effects. Thankfully, not everyone who suffers from symptoms of depression needs to rely on these medications. I described 5 great natural alternatives to antidepressants to give you a way out of some of these side effects while also managing your symptoms.

Depression can grind a busy work week to a halt, making everything seem harder than it has to. These natural alternatives aren’t cures and they’re not substitutes for everyone who has been prescribed antidepressants. But for people whose brains need a little boost for an improved mood, supported sleep, and a calmer day, these could help.