One thing we do know is that anti-depressants treat the symptoms, not the causes, of depression. There is more and more research that shows that these drugs don’t address the underlying causes of depression, and can therefore prolong depression: making it chronic, or even making it worse.
Some popular antidepressants were shown to increase suicidality even in control groups;and in people who were taking the drug for other reasons, aka, people who were not depressed or suffering from mental illness. This makes no mention of the withdrawal symptoms that come with many of these drugs; withdrawal that is often described as worse than the original condition, can last months, and not-infrequently ends in suicide. Understanding these dangers is vital: often people with mood disorders are already having serious trouble coping. Adding emotional side effects and agonizing withdrawal can be fatal.
If you do wish to increase your serotonin levels without exposing yourself to these dangers, there are natural alternatives that can also help you cope with symptoms — aka that can help you feel better, now. That can give you the time you need to make long term, positive changes in your life! The first is…
Natural Serotonin Boosting
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter created predominantly in the gut. You can safely increase your body’s natural production of serotonin by improving gut health with a powerful probiotic supplement, which is shown to relieve depression.Probiotics are available in more places than just pills: fermented foods like yogurt, kambucha and sauerkraut are powerhouse providers of these helpful gut flora, which I imagine like a happy garden full of singing plants, who all love you. Only they live in your bum and are actually sort of gross. Thus the happy highly preferable garden imagery.
If you have the ability to grow your own vegetables in natural, healthy soil, eating them fresh from the garden is also shown to increase probiotic health in your gut. Avoid antibiotics, antibacterial soap, and think about investing in a chlorine filter for your shower and drinking water—all of these kill the natural Helpful Bacteria in your body, leaving you at risk for fungal infections… and destroying your body’s ability to make serotonin and B-vitamins, also associated with happiness.
You can also increase your natural serotonin production by providing your body with the building blocks of serotonin; its molecular precursor, which is available as a supplement called 5-htp. This supplement is far more affordable than most serotonin reuptake inhibitors, is not addictive as frequently, and has significantly fewer side effects. B-vitamins can improve the rate at which tryptophans (the molecular precursor to serotonin) are converted to serotonin and absorbed by the brain.
If you’re looking for an herbal supplement, St. John’s Wart is an herb that naturally increases serotonin in the body. It’s been called the ‘natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor’. (Don’t take this with any pharmaceuticals that work on serotonin; you could cause too much serotonin in the body, which is toxic. Guess there can be too much of a good thing! Haha!)
Thoughts or Feelings… Which Comes First? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and It’s Alternatives
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the wunderkind of modern psychology, and with good reason! It’s got a low success rate, a high relapse rate, and fits neatly with a reductionist, mechanistic view of humanity. Sign me up!