The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While for some people SSRIs may provide a level of relief from depression, they can also come with some not-so-sunny side effects. If you’re open to managing symptoms in a more natural way, there are many options to consider—but bear in mind that alternative methods can take longer to work than prescription medications. Just like prescription drugs, natural remedies are medicine, and they should not be combined casually without a little advance research. You’ll want to know, for example, that St. John’s Wort can increase skin sun sensitivity, or that some people have reportedly developed a psychological dependency on kava kava.

As always, listen to your body as you try these depression-combatting options. Do not combine any herbal or natural therapies with anti-depressant prescriptions without first consulting your healthcare professional.

Just like prescription drugs, natural remedies are medicine, and they should not be combined casually without a little advance research.

Here are a few options for a starting point as you look to alternative therapies:

  • Mucuna Puriens: Also known as Dopa Mucuna, this herb has a long list of attributes, including providing improved mood and an overall sense of well-being, better sleep, mental focus and even increased libido!
  • St. John’s Wort: Perhaps one of the best-known natural remedies, St. John’s Wort has been shown to have effects similar to prescription anti-depressants without many of the unwelcome side effects, such as weight gain. It has been successfully used to treat menopausal mood swings, obsessive/compulsive disorder and anxiety due to the withdrawal from nicotine and alcohol.
  • Ashwaganda: The “ginseng of Ayurvedic medicine” has been shown to improve thinking ability, reduce inflammation and help calm the brain to prevent insomnia or anxiety. It boosts immunity, too.
  • Kava kava: Many parts of the world use kava kava in much the same way that Americans use alcohol because it has a powerful intoxication or sedation effect. It relieves anxiety and sleeplessness. Many promising studies have shown kava kava is also an effective anxiety-reducer.
  • Supplements: In addition to herbs, there are several vitamin supplements that can help with depression management. In particular, high quality B vitamins—taken in proper dosages—can produce noticeable effects. Supplemental magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, manganese and potassium can also be effective against the symptoms of depression. Any diet that is considerably short of these minerals can lead to anxiety, nervousness, paranoia, apprehension or general fatigue.
  • Daily practices: Adding certain habits to your daily routine is another way to counter anxiety, insomnia, or low energy levels without taking a lengthy detour from your current schedule. You may want to consider aromatherapy, for example. Using essential oils and aromatic plant compounds, aromatherapy aims to stimulate your sense of smell to relieve tension and stress while providing a feeling of calm and overall relaxation. While there is debate over the scientific proof of stimulation in the brain, many people have found temporary relief through massage using aromatic oils.