by Christina Sarich
A few years back, Harvard conducted a study to reiterate what many in the psych professionals already know – Americans are addicted to anti-depression meds. We (though not myself) pop Prozac, Celexa, Effexor, Paxil, and Zoloft pills like they are candy in an attempt to boost mood and feel better. The increase in sales of anti-depressants is up a startling 400%. This pill-popping became the norm, even though clinical studies suggest there are numerous natural remedies that can help us feel better, without the pricey and life altering side-effects that many of these drugs can cause.
Indeed, many individuals can find relief from depression with simple lifestyle changes, even just dietary changes. Even the spice turmeric has been shown to treat depression better than Prozac, one of the best selling, yet least effective anti-depressants of all time. Phytotherapy Research said that not only is turmeric effective at treating depression, but it is likely more effective than some of the most common anti-depressant drugs currently on the market.
Additionally, there are several things people can do to boost their happiness levels without ever popping a pharmaceutical pill. Here are 5 potential solutions:
5 Ways to Boost Happiness Naturally
- 1. The Easiest Way to Feel Better, by Far, is to Exercise. In study after study, scientists have proven that just moving your body makes you feel better. Exercise boosts dopamine levels and oxytocin levels – two hormones responsible for happiness and love; one dampens pain, the other makes you feel ‘bliss.’ Why take a pharmaceutical drug that might cause you to have migraines or become suicidal when you can just spend 10 minutes throwing a Frisbee with your dog, or walking along a path in nature? (Spending time with your dog and being in nature also happen to boost your happiness hormones, so you can get two for the price of one!)
- 2. Spend Time with Friends and Family – Spending time with friends and family or even interacting with social media friends across cyber space can boost levels of seratonin and oxytocin, and even help you to live longer. We are social creatures. If you’ve been hiding in your house and not interacting with other people, consider volunteering, attending a social gathering, or even going on a date. Your better mood is waiting on this action.
- 3. Get Outside – New York-based naturopathic doctor Alan Logan, co-author (with Dr. Eva Selhub, an internal medicine physician) of Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality, believes that the energy from mountains, trees, plants and water can improve your sleep and mental outlook. You don’t have to abandon city life, but try to find trees, natural reservoirs of water, birds, flowers – anything that is natural. Your health and happiness depends on it.
- 4. Sleep More – Our circadian rhythms are absolutely vital to good mental health. Circadian cycles are our bodies’ way of regulating a host of hormones that are responsible for everything from keeping us alert when we should be to helping us to relax in stressful situations. Lost sleep can even age your brain significantly over time, while more sleep will improve mood just about every single time. Try it. You look tired.
- 5. Improve Your Diet – Foods for depression can be much more effective than a bottle of junk made by Big Pharma. That saying – you are what you eat – is true. If you eat tons of refined sugar, unhealthy fats, and no ‘living foods’ like organic fruits and vegetables, you will look and feel…not so great! You need high levels of B12, found in fish and eggs, to increase neuronal communication between ‘good’ brain pathways, fiber to avoid spikes in blood sugar and insulin which can lead to depression, folate to keep your brain bathed in cerebrospinal fluid, iron to make sure your blood can transport oxygen, iodine to lower depression and increase memory, calcium to lower anxiety and curb depression, and much more. Try leafy greens, nuts, and foods high in Omega 3s to get an immediate happiness boost.