updated: 5 Aug 2017

Top natural remedies or alternative medicine for depression

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

St John's wort

I’m really glad that you've decided to look at natural remedies or alternative medicine for depression, including herbal antidepressants. I suspect you don't like the idea of taking antidepressant medication prescribed by your doctor at all. Perhaps you’re on antidepressants at the moment, and they’re not helping… or - very likely - they’re causing even more problems.

Just before we get started, you may want to know more about the signs and symptoms of depression. If so, hop over to my Depression Questionnaire. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Antidepressant medication can have some nasty side effects. Alternative medicine for depression is the better option in terms of both short and long-term benefits, as well as safety. However, they still contain substances that have an effect on your brain (and the rest of your body). But don’t worry – I’m here to help you choose wisely, and find the best alternative medicine for you.

At least by taking natural cure for your depression you won't be exposing yourself to numerous (depressing) side effects from medication your doctor may want to prescribe.

I’m going to give you ideas about what you can take.  You’ll need to continue to research for yourself – but I’ve given you some links at the end of this article to help you with this.  You need to feel happy with the natural remedies you decide to take.

Whatever you swallow affects your brain and body

Everything you swallow provides the raw material (or not) for the production of important 'chemicals' (hormones, peptides, neurotransmitters etc.) in your body/brain. All that stuff ensures that your body do what it's supposed to do.

These substances have an effect on all processes in your body though - not just what happens in your head. That’s why tablets - like as antidepressants - manufactured by pharmaceutical companies have some 'unexpected' side-effects. And therefore you also have to be choosy about your natural remedies for depression.

In addition, the foods you eat (or don't eat) have an effect on how you feel mentally and emotionally.

It’s vital to make sensible food choices. Good quality food contains all the natural ingredients for the production of those important body chemicals. We need proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. We need them in a particular combination to achieve optimum mental and physical health.

Lies and medical research

I strongly recommend that you read this article in the Huffington Post: Lies, Damn Lies and Medical Research.

Please consult your health-care provider/physician
to discuss the information I have provided before taking remedies or supplements of any kind.

Best natural remedies for depression

I’ve listed the best natural remedies I can suggest - you'll be amazed how much your can do to heal yourself.

Please be aware though that the material on this site is presented as information only, not as medical advice.

Just before I share the natural remedies with you, I’d love you to consider hypnosis. Although it’s not strictly a ‘natural remedy’, it can be a huge help when used alongside any alternative medicine you do choose to take. 

Self hypnosis for depression

Self hypnosis is a very powerful way of tackling your symptoms of depression, as well as any underlying problems. It is safe, proven and simple.

Hop over to my page on Hypnosis FAQ and downloads and use the hypnosis search box to find help for whatever caused you to feel so poorly.

Alternative medicine for depression

Taking alternative medicine for depression doesn't deal with the underlying cause. These herbs can still be considered 'psychotropic' drugs and they do have an effect on your brain (and other parts of your body). Nevertheless they're a better option than prescribed antidepressants.

  • St. John’s Wort – but do consult your doctor if you are any taking medication! This is the best herbal antidepressant if you want a natural remedy for depression, but you should not take it if you are already on antidepressant medication (see link below)
  • Ginkgo biloba - maybe helpful for elderly people
  • Damiana - traditionally used, but not researched
  • Vervain - traditionally used, but not researched

Nutritional supplements as alternative 'medicine'

These days we are much more likely to suffer from deficiencies.


We just eat far more food with empty calories (you know the ones I mean!) and/or food grown on soil depleted of natural substances that would have added the necessary minerals to our diet.

In addition you might have some vitamin or mineral deficiencies if you…

  • are stressed
  • have health problems
  • have food sensitivities or allergies
  • take medication
  • have a genetic condition or predisposition that thwarts the absorption and use of vitamins and minerals

Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals are known to contribute to mental health problems.*

The following 7 supplements are often suggested may help you to achieve better mental health - hence my having included them here. I encourage you to do your own research though (and Dr Mercola's website is an excellent resource for this).

  1. Vitamin B 6 - particularly if you are on the contraceptive pill
  2. Vitamin B12
  3. Vitamin D
  4. Folic acid
  5. 5-HTP
  6. Iron
  7. Magnesium
  8. Fish oil - considered one of the best supplements, but please see: Omega 3 side effects and Fish Oil and Depression.

As I’m sure you already know, the safest, most effective 'supplementation' comes from eating the right foods of course. However, the right foods aren't always available, or you may not get the right intake of nutrients for a number of other reasons.

Gobbling up the average supplement you find on the shelves isn't unlikely to do you any good. Often supplements are chemical 'lookalikes'. There's a good chance that your body doesn't even recognise it as something it can use. Even if your body is able to absorb it, that doesn't mean it can actually make use of it.

You really need the advice of a qualified nutritional expert!

The best natural remedies can be found in your kitchen!

Maya angelou -

No matter how rubbish you feel, think again when you’re just about to eat another ice-cream, cake, sweet, doughnut, bagel, bag of crisps, chips, lumps of bread, etc. These provide only 'empty' calories - they fill you up, but don't provide the nutrients you need. Did you know that Vit B6 and B12 are called the mental health vitamins for example?

And on the flip side, I'm really sorry to have to tell you that sugar "causes chronic inflammation, which disrupts your body’s normal immune function and can wreak havoc on your brain"*.

So, instead of junk think: fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olives, fermented foods (such as kefir and sauerkraut. I know... you've probably never heard of it - just google it).  Cut right down on grains.  That way all the nutrients work together to provide you with just what you need.

If you do decide to take supplements (and I take some), then ensure that you get them from a trusted source. 

Thyroid supplements as a natural remedy for depression

If you’re concerned about low thyroid function, do ask your doctor for advice, blood tests and - if necessary - medication.  

You may not need any alternative medicine for depression at all! 

To discover if you’re deficient in iodine and need supplementation have a look at wrongdiagnosis.com.

Homeopathic remedies for depression

homeopathic remedies for depression

Your best option is to visit a qualified homeopath, who will treat the whole of you.

Your experience of what depression is will differ from that of someone else's. Homeopathy treats every condition based on the individual's expression of symptoms.

Don't just stop taking antidepressants

Conventional antidepressant medication should not suddenly be stopped.

I totally understand that you want to come off your antidepressant medication!  However, I really want you to ensure that you’re well-informed and have the right kind of medical support. 

When you start to replace your medication with natural remedies for depression, particularly the herbal antidepressant St John's Wort, you want to know that you are doing it right. (There is a small risk of a major problem.)

Taking natural antidepressants may be the right way forward, but be sure that you don't just stop taking your prescribed antidepressants.

When you know and understand what you’re dealing with, you’re more likely to be successful in treating depression naturally. This is particularly true if you’ve been taking antidepressant medication for a long time.

Your brain will have made changes to adapt to the presence of antidepressants. Coming off antidepressant medication can be really difficult, but I would encourage you to go for it, as it is not nearly as safe as you have probably been led to believe!

However, coming off psychotropic drugs needs to be done with care and consideration. Your body has to work hard to compensate for the withdrawal.

Please see: http://rxisk.org/guide-stopping-antidepressants/

Uplifting image: beautiful purple tulipsTake time to deliberately look at beautiful things every day

Have a good root around on my site to help you recover - you can do it by relying on your own resources and your own choices.  

I am rooting for you!

Side effects of prescribed antidepressants
- why they aren’t safe

You can become depressed for - what on the surface appears to be - no reason at all.  It could also be that you’ve experienced a traumatic event in your life.  Either way, you can feel really scared and out of control.

You’re likely to want to take just about anything to make you feel better. Certainly many doctors will have neither the knowledge and/or the time to explore anything else with you than antidepressant medication.  I so hope that you will do yourself the favour of making sure that you understand what you're taking.

You’re less likely to have a relapse down the line when you feel empowered to sort out the problems yourself.

Self-help, including taking natural remedies for depression, can be hugely effective and won't have all the unpleasant antidepressant side effects.

15 reasons to avoid taking prescribed medication for depression

Prescribed antidepressant medications:

  1. increase your feeling of being out of control
  2. increase your dependence on outside sources of help
  3. don’t deal with the real problem
  4. don’t help you to meet your emotional needs
  5. make it more likely that you’ll have a relapse in the future
  6. are only 3% more effective than a placebo (even that is questionable, as most people in studies know that they are on an antidepressant and not a placebo - on account of the side effects)
  7. can cause sleep problems
  8. can increase agitation
  9. can cause sexual problems such as decreased libido (which of course may cause relationship problems - very depressing!)
  10. may cause unpleasant withdrawal effects
  11. can cause permanent damage in your brain, including movement disorders (google it - you'll want to know about it!)
  12. may cause rapid weight gain, constipation, diarrhoea
  13. can lead to suicidal and homicidal behaviour (yes, really! Don't believe your doctor if he or she tells you otherwise)
  14. You'll have a dreadful time coming off the medication, particularly once you've been on antidepressants for a long time. Antidepressants are THE most habit-forming substances around, according to Dr Kelly Brogan.
  15. Here's the biggie: increase your risk of chronic depression significantly

... to name but a few. Are they not utterly depressing?

Your depression is NOT caused by a chemical imbalance!

So, do consider the alternatives. The very best antidepressant is making sure that you meet your essential (emotional) needs. Only you can do that, but it means that you’re in charge and don't have to rely on a 'foreign' substance to help you out. 

In addition to natural remedies for depression

You may be reluctant to see a counsellor or psychotherapist.  Perhaps you haven’t been able to find one that you feel happy with.  Do visit my page on how to find a counsellor and have another go at finding the right person for you. I hope to have made it a little easier to find a good counsellor by giving you a list of questions to ask.

In addition - roughly 50% of people who are depressed have relationship problems.  There’s a really good programme to help you deal effectively with relationship problems and turn your relationship or marriage around for the better - even if only you are interested in doing something about it.  Have a look at my  review about Saving your Marriage or Relationship by Lee Baucom, PhD.

If you feel down, because your partner has just left you, then get the best chance of a reconciliation with the Magic of Making Up.


You absolutely can overcome that depression without any medication. Natural remedies for depression may help speed up your recovery.

Please also consider talking to a licensed therapist. See the blue box below for further information.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

New! Rate this article...

I frequently update my articles based on feedback.
Thank you so much in anticipation of your vote.

Related Articles

Are There Really Any Benefits to Taking Omega 3?
Look Out for These Signs of Clinical Depression
Natural Depression Treatments
Do You Suffer From These Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation
What Do You Do When You Are Bored with 'Life'?
Could You Do with Attracting More Luck in Your Life?
How to Meet Your Essential Emotional Needs
How to Choose The Best Counsellor

Other helpful links

EthnoHerbalist - St John's Wort for depression


*Mercola, J. Five Ways to Help Beat Depression Without Antidepressants. 09 March 2010, via Mercola.com

*Ramsey, Drew, MD, and Phillip R. Muskin, MD. "Vitamin Deficiencies and Mental Health. How Are They Linked?" Vitamin Deficiencies and Mental Health: How Are They Linked? : Current Psychiatry. Current Psychiatry, n.d. Web. 20 Dec. 2013.

Don't know what to do anymore? Need help?
Connect with a licensed therapist now...

Your problem is never too small or too big, too silly or too complicated to ask for help from a licensed therapist.

Connect with your therapist as often as you like in confidence (no need even to give your real name).

Get help now in 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the image below and fill in the three online questionnaires (it takes just a few minutes)
  2. Complete the sign up process
  3. Choose how to pay (it's safe and secure)

Then all you need to do is to write down your troubles!

You won't believe what a breath of fresh air it is to be able to discuss your problems with your own professional. Someone who takes the time to really 'get you' and offer tailored guidance to suit you and your particular circumstances.

CLICK HERE to start now or click the image...

I want to upfront with you - I earn a commission from BetterHelp. This is how I earn an honest income, whilst giving away tonnes of free information throughout my site. You pay the same fee, regardless.

Found this page helpful?
Pay it forward - like and share...

Comment, help or be helped

Elly Prior

Hello you! :-)

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

Do feel free to ask for help. I would be delighted to write a few lines to support you (please keep it short).

Alternatively -  there are licensed therapists waiting to help you right now. You can connect with a therapist as often as you want on any device, whenever it suits you. For further information, see my page: Online Relationship Advice.

Images courtesy of: Pauline Rosenberg, Tinpalace and Barry