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Natural Remedies for Depression & Anxiety

Natural Remedies for Depression and Anxiety

One in five Australian women between the age of 15 and 34 are suffering from diagnosed depression and anxiety.

This is the finding of Melbourne University’s HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) survey released last week (July 2019).   And how many are unreported?  Unfortunately that number is growing, and people are increasingly turning to natural remedies for depression and anxiety.

We all feel varying degrees of depression and anxiety from time to time.  You may be going through a difficult or challenging time and so not coping as you normally do. As well as trying to balance work, life and financial challenges, reduced sleep, less physical activity and nutritional concerns can affect general health and contribute to an increase in depression and anxiety.

Different treatments and supports work for different people, but here are a few suggestions to begin with that may help:

Nutritional natural remedies for depression & anxiety

Reduce caffeine 

The adrenaline from caffeine will affect mood and make you feel more anxious. This includes coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks. One or two cups of black tea daily may be OK. Green tea and herbal teas will be better.  Try chamomile, licorice, passionflower, lemongrass, ginger or turmeric.

Cut out processed and packaged foods

They are full of chemicals which are inflammatory in the body, and can have a negative effect on your mood, as well as long-term health effects. Go for fresh whole foods.

Avoid artificial sweeteners

Evidence shows that aspartame can alter metabolism and is linked to mood disorders.  It may affect feelings of depression and anxiety.  Reducing sugar is important and so using sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol are safer and healthier options.

Eat a Mediterranean style diet

Include plenty of protein, good fats and complex carbohydrates.  These will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable. When your blood sugar levels fluctuate, so does your energy and mood. Proteins and fats are essential to make hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, necessary for mood support.  The Mediterranean diet is also generally anti-inflammatory and so will help to reduce neuro-inflammation, now implicated in mood disorders.

Reduce alcohol intake

Alcohol is associated with depression (even champagne!).  Regular drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in your brain that are needed for good mental health.  It depletes your body of magnesium and other nutrients, and interferes with your enzymes and brain chemicals.

Detox to reduce depression and anxiety

When your gut and liver are clogged from environmental toxins, sugar, colours, preservatives, and other food byproducts, your metabolism becomes sluggish, affecting your energy and mood. Doing a regular detox can enhance health and well-being, and improve your quality of life.

Improve digestion and your microbiome

We are learning more and more about the strong link between the gut and brain in conditions like depression and anxiety. Your diet affects the quality or your microbiome, so this will influence your gut-brain axis and your mood.  High fiber fruits and vegetables help to feed your microbiome and other specific foods have also been shown to affect learning, memory and mood.

Lifestyle natural remedies for depression & anxiety

Exercise to lift your mood

Exercise helps neurons to grow and increases your serotonin and natural endorphins which regulate mood, sleep and appetite.  You don’t have to join the gym (unless you’d like to).  Go for a walk, try some yoga, turn the music up and dance around the house…

Schedule some downtime

When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, your mood is affected.  Set aside a little quiet time each day for you.  It may be to sit quietly and watch the birds or listen to music.  You may like to try a hobby or craft such as drawing, painting or knitting…

Aim for 7-9 hours sleep

Sleep is essential for your well-being. Lack of sleep will cause a decrease in your levels of mood neurotransmitters. When you are well rested you can cope better and your mood will be more balanced.

Meditation helps with emotional regulation

If you find it difficult to sit quietly, try a guided meditation app (there are many).  A little practice each day can be calming, and as a result you will be able to manage your mood and feel more resilient.

Practice Gratitude

Write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day. It can help you to keep perspective and to appreciate even the smallest things.

Talk to someone

Phone your mum or a friend. Acknowledging that you are finding a situation stressful, or are feeling down or worried to someone who cares for you, even if they can’t physically help, will help reduce your stress levels.

Talk to yourself

Affirmations are positive, self-affirming messages to yourself. If you are feeling anxious for example, a calming and positive internal dialogue may be helpful. Try “all will be well and this will pass”, or “I always cope, just breathe and relax”.

Supplements & herbs for depression & anxiety

B vitamins

B vitamins are essential for energy and the breakdown stress hormones.  They are co-factors for neurotransmitter production and can assist with mood. Therefore, I always recommend a B complex for tiredness and fatigue, stress management, mood support, depression and anxiety.


Magnesium is a vital mineral that is often deficient in our diet.  When you are stressed, your need for magnesium is increased.  It plays an important role in biochemical reactions all over your body.  It regulates neurotransmitters, improves nervous system function, reduces cortisol and anxiety, and has a calming effect on brain and muscle.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in nervous system health.  Links between depression, anxiety and vitamin D deficiency have been well established.  Most of the population (especially here in Melbourne in winter) are deficient in this essential micro-nutrient. It is impossible to get enough vitamin D from our winter sun.  Supplementation is recommended, although getting some sunshine where possible will also help lift your mood.

Omega 3 fish oils 

Fish oils contains EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids that are vital for normal brain function and development. They are major components of the brain and neurons, and are important for optimal brain performance, cognition, concentration and mood.  While eating fish is a great source, concerns over mercury levels, plastics and other toxins in the oceans, may mean that supplementation with a good quality pure fish oil is a better option.


Curcumin (Turmeric) has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that can restore and protect neurotransmitters and protect the brain, leading to improvements in mood. It has been shown to improve memory and cognition. Curcumin is difficult to absorb so needs to be dosed specifically to get the full benefits.

Herbal Medicines

There is a lot of research to support the use of herbs as natural remedies for depression and anxiety.  Different combinations are used to help support mood, sleep, anxiety or stress, depending on your individual symptoms. For example, herbs such as St Johns wort, curcumin and saffron are used to support mood.  Herbs like passionflower, chamomile and skullcap can help with anxiety, or ziziphus and valerian for sleep. Siberian ginseng, rhodiola and withania are used to reduce the effects of stress.

Please note** these are just examples, and treatments will vary for each individual.  I do not recommend using herbs or supplements without guidance.  They can have interactions with other medications, and if not taken at correct doses may have unwanted side effects or no effect at all, so it’s best to get professional advice.

Seek help

If and you would like some support with Natural remedies for depression and anxiety, call for a chat or an appointment with a naturopath on 0403 755 584 or book online.

If depression and anxiety has become a significant part your life and you need alternative support please seek help from a psychologist or counselor.

Other supports:

Beyond Blue https:/

Lifeline 131114 or

Angela McTaggart
Qualified Clinical Naturopath
Brunswick Naturopathy

Angela McTaggart - Naturopath, Brunswick Naturopathy