When you think along the lines of mood enhancers, odds are rather high that you’re imagining pharmaceutical interventions in the form of pills and capsules. While SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and other antidepressants have their place in the treatment of mood disorders, there are other, more natural avenues you can explore before you head to the doctor for a script.
Low mood vs depression
Firstly, it is important to note that there is a distinct difference between a low mood, or ‘feeling blue’, and clinical depression. Fluctuations in mood are natural – we all experience situations that cause anxiety and stress in our daily lives and our brains react accordingly. However, these low moods are normally lifted when the environmental causes stop, or are purposely removed.
Clinical depression, on the other hand, causes persistent feelings of sadness that is not necessarily related to environmental factors, and this is often accompanied by feelings of low self-esteem, frustration, anger and a lack of interest in social and personal activities. This type of mood disorder may require lifestyle changes, medication and therapy provided by a trained professional.
If you suspect that are suffering from the latter, it is always the best course of action to seek out guidance from a mental health professional. However, if you feel that you are able to try a few other things before you to the clinical route, here are 7 natural mood enhancers you can try to improve a low mood before you book a doctor’s appointment:
L-Tryptophan is an essential amino asset that plays a big role in how the brain functions. Low levels can affect serotonin and melatonin production, which has an impact on mood and the ability to fall and remain asleep. Although the body produces tryptophan itself, it has be supplemented by means of diet. Foods rich in this amino acid include oats, banana, turnkey, cottage cheese, fish and dark chocolate. It can also be taken as a standalone supplement.
2. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort has been shown to be effective in addressing nervousness, tiredness, poor appetite, and trouble sleeping, as well as mild or moderate depression. This flowering plant is part of the family Hypericaceae and is normally taken in the form of liquid extracts, pills, or teas. The quality and strength of formulations based on this herb can vary, so be sure to read up on the validity of your supplier, as well as its potential interactions with other drugs you may be taking.
3. CBD (cannabidiol)
CBD is an active compound that occurs naturally in the cannabis plant. When taken in the form of oil, tinctures, capsules, topical creams and lotions, edibles, etc. it has an impact on the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system plays a role in helping our bodies to achieve and maintain homeostasis, a healthy state of optimal functioning.
As such, CBD can be helpful in addressing mood issues such as anxiety and mild forms of depression when it is used as part of a balanced selfcare regime that includes a varied diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, sufficient sleep, proper hydration and mindfulness practices.
4. Avena Sativa
Avena Sativa is the proper name of the plant that gives us oats. It has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries. It is often used to improve concentration and overall cognitive functioning. Users also report that it boosts mental performance under pressure (great for exams, etc.) because it positively affects brain enzyme activity related to mental health. It can be taken as a tincture or capsule, drank as a freshly pressed juice or brewed as a tea.
Sceletium works by assisting the brain in optimising the function of serotonin and streamlining the processes associated with the 5-HT and PDE-4 receptors. These receptors are associated with chemicals that regulate everything from mood and memory to anxiety and stress. It also supports circulation in the brain and has powerful antioxidant properties.
6. Rhodiola Rosea
This herb has been known as used as a natural remedy throughout Asia and Eastern Europe for centuries. It is grown in the mountainous regions of the northern continent and the roots are considered to have apoptogenic properties, i.e. it helps the body to adapt to stressful situations when consumed. It is also often taken to combat fatigue, improve brain function and boost athletic performance.
7. Vitamin B6
Good old Vitamin B6, also known as Pyridoxine, is required by the body to maintain the health and functioning of the nerves, skin and red blood cells. A lack of this diet can lead to mood changes, a weakened immune system, tiredness and low energy, as well as skin rashes. Taking a supplement could very well be enough to boost your mood.
There you have it – 7 natural mood enhancers to try before you go the pharmaceutical route. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months for more insight into holistic wellbeing.