Natural Antidepressants

As the cost of prescribed medications continue to rise, many people are looking towards natural antidepressants to treat their anxiety and depression. Not to mention the fact that newer drugs are not always more effective. Many times, a new drug for a disease is put on the market simply because their patent on an existing drug has expired and they need a new formulation on which they can make more money.

Typically when doctors prescribe antidepressant medicines for their patients, Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft are at the top of their list. Although each of these drugs has side effects, they are usually very effective in altering mood of a patient. So what natural foods can do the same?

Walnuts and Depression

Walnuts - many nutritionists refer to this as a brain food. Partially because of the way it looks. But also because of the effect that it has on the brain. The natural compounds in walnuts are helpful in producing serotonin which has a calming effect on the brain. Serotonin is critically important to the correct functioning of our brain. In addition to mood, serotonin also has an effect on our sexual desire, how well we sleep, how fast we learn, as well as many other body functions.

Many researchers attribute depression to an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain which prescribed drugs help to correct. This is why foods like walnuts, and others that can have positive effects on the serotonin levels can be so effective. And, in addition to it being a good food to combat depression, some nutritionists also feel that walnuts can be very effective in helping to prevent dementia.

As with anything, however, it is important not to over do it. Eating eight or less a day should be plenty to test the effect of the food on your mood.

The Effect Of Chocolate On Depression

Dark Chocolate - like walnuts, dark chocolate (particularly the cocoa) is a good source of serotonin which, as stated above, helps to temper depression. However, dark chocolate also triggers the release of the chemical dopamine into the brain. Dopamine stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain and makes you feel good.

The relationship between depression and chocolate is undeniably strong. The fact that many people crave chocolate in their more depressed moments certainly supports the notion that the body is telling you to eat more chocolate.

Unfortunately, the effect is short lived. Usually the improved mood lasts for about 3-4 minutes. And then, unfortunately, the mood is returned to its depressed state.

Another unfortunate effect of chocolate is that, usually, it is combined with other not so healthy additives such as butterfat, cream, etc. As a result, large consumption of most dark chocolate foods, of course, leads to weight gain - which itself, can lead to feelings of depression.

Therefore, although somewhat effective against depression, eating dark chocolate is probably not a good way to combat depression.

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