February 23, 2018 9 min read

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

By Claire Galea

I often get asked about natural remedies for depression. Depression is something that over 1 million Australian’s suffer from in any one year[1] and it comes in many forms. It's often ignored by the sufferer, either because of the stigma attached to it or because it’s misunderstood. Some don’t realise that, just because they have happy days too, it doesn’t mean they’re not suffering from depression. Others don’t feel that anyone can help.

Like anxiety, depression can come and go and can be acute or mild. Some days it might be perfectly manageable, while other days may be quite debilitating. If your confidence has taken a blow, you’re quieter than normal, feeling guilty, irritable, flat or lethargic, these are all symptoms of depression which, if left to continue for a long period can seriously affect your physical and mental health. If the periods of relief in between the downs are becoming shorter and life feels as if it’s nothing but monotony, then it’s time to do something about it before it escalates.

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

In the same way that depression affects different people in different ways, the remedies also have different effects, and what works for one might not work for another. There’s a bit of trial and error until you find the most effective solution for you. Below I discuss a variety of supports for both mild and stronger forms of depression.

There are a number of supports you can consider doing or taking on a daily basis, some of which are quick and easy while others require making healthy lifestyle choices. If making a decision or an effort is too much for you at the moment, start out with the easy options and incorporate the others as and when you feel able to. In this article I’ve focused on the easy, quick-fix solutions.

 Vitamin D

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

  1. Staying out of the sun is not necessarily such a good thing - over 30% of Australian adults have a vitamin D deficiency[2]. Dozens of studies have shown a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in depressed patients[3], and some studies have shown high-dose vitamin D is helpful in decreasing some symptoms of depression. As vitamin D is remarkably safe, and depression is remarkably dangerous (about 36,000 suicides/year in the US and proportionately, Australia has a higher suicide rate than the US), it seems reasonable to ensure those suffering from this disorder should maintain healthy vitamin D levels. If you have depression, it’s a good idea to use five to ten drops of vitamin D3 per day. This dose is safe and effective in increasing most individual’s vitamin D status to a healthy level. Some people with severe depression may benefit from higher doses, such as 20 drops a day, but such doses require that you have your vitamin D level [25(OH)D] checked at least twice a year.

Magnesium Supplements

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

  1. Research has shown that taking magnesium supplements can alleviate depression in as little as two weeks, according to researchers from the University of Vermont[4]. Magnesium can act at the blood brain barrier to prevent the entrance of stress hormones into the brain. It can reduce the release of ACTH (the hormone that tells your adrenal glands to get in gear and pump out that cortisol and adrenaline), and it can reduce the responsiveness of the adrenal glands to ACTH. In 1968, Wacker and Parisireported that magnesium deficiency could cause depression, behavioural disturbances, headaches, muscle cramps, seizures, ataxia, psychosis and irritability - all reversible with magnesium repletion[5]. Stress, which we’re all certainly prone to, can quickly deplete your magnesium reserves, so taking magnesium supplements can offer fast and effective improvement and can also help improve sleep.

Evening Primrose Oil Capsules

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

  1. Used for centuries as a medicinal herb, Evening Primrose Oil is a highly effective remedy for all types of anxiety disorders. If you suffer from chronic nervousness, social anxiety or panic attacks, you will likely find the use of evening Primrose oil beneficial. The oil contains a nutrient called gamma linoleic acid, which not only improves nerve function, but also has a stabilizing effect on your hormone levels. For this reason, it is often prescribed by holistic practitioners as a remedy for the mood swings associated with premenstrual syndrome. However, you may need to use the supplement for up to three weeks before its full benefits are experienced[6]. Take 1000mg day morning or evening.

Fish Oils

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

  1. In 1998, a report in the Journal of Affective Disorders noted significantly lower levels of omega-3s in the red blood cell membranes of patients with depression. Conversely, countries where the average rate of fish consumption is high, have lower rates of depression. It is possible that increasing the omega-3 levels makes it easier for serotonin - a chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another - to pass through cell membranes[7]. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. Taking fish oils is believed to help regulate mood and social behaviour, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function[8].

Epsom Salts

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

  1. Epsom salts are a crystalline form of Magnesium Sulphate (see above) which, when added to a bath, is absorbed into the body through the skin. It is also incredibly effective at detoxing the body by drawing the toxins and heavy metals out if you’re in the bath, or by flushing them out if you drink a tablespoon in a glass of water followed by a litre of water. It tastes disgusting but is incredibly effective – just don’t leave the house for a few hours.                        Additional benefits of Epsom salts include:
  • Eases stress and improves sleep and concentration
  • Helps muscles and nerves function properly
  • Regulates activity of 325+ enzymes
  • Helps prevent artery hardening and blood clots
  • Makes insulin more effective
  • Reduces inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps
  • Improves oxygen use
  • Flushes toxins
  • Improves absorption of nutrients
  • Helps form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins
  • Helps prevent or ease migraine headaches[9]

Put two cups in your bath with two drops of lavender essential oil.

 Essential Oils

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

It is estimated that around 43% of people with anxiety and stress use some form of alternative therapy to help reduce symptoms[10]. The chemicals in essential oils can interact with the body by being absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream or by stimulating areas of the brain through inhalation. When specialised nerve cells in the upper part of the nose detect smells, they send an impulse to the brain along the olfactory nerve to an area called the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb processes the impulse and delivers the information about the smell to other neighbouring areas of the brain. These other areas are known as the limbic system. The limbic system is a set of brain structures that are thought to play an essential role in controlling behaviour, emotions, memory, and mood.

If your depression is mild or comes and goes, then Lavender Essential Oil is a good and an affordable place to start. Lavender oil has long been used for peace and calm and to promote restful sleep. Simply diffuse four drops in an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser, put one drop on your pillow or dilute with fractionated coconut oil and rub into your skin.

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

Ylang Ylangessential oil, one of my favourites, and Vetiver are both mild sedatives which cross the blood-brain barrier and can also help reduce anxiety and help you feel calm and relaxed. Balanceis a very popular and cost-effective blend which is popular with both men and women for its pine-tree smell. It is a very grounding blend which promotes clear thinking. doTERRA also offers specifically targeted blends called Cheer and Elevationto uplift and support your mood. Frankincense also falls into all of the above categories but it’s a bit more expensive.

When depression is caused by external factors, such as stress at work or relationship problems at home, then trying some or all of the above obviously won’t cure the way you’re feeling, but could provide enough lift to support you through it.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

Chinese Herbal Medicine, such as Sunny Pills, may be a solution for a depression that’s more persistent nature and difficult to shake. The formula is based on the concept that our emotions are linked to specific organs and parts of the body and that there is a two-way relationship between them. For example, while long-term anger can adversely affect the liver, a deficient or excessive liver can also exacerbate or cause feelings of anger and frustration. The aim of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to bring the body, the emotions and the flow of energy back into balance and to address any deficiencies, excesses or blocks in the flow. Although TCM is usually tailored to an individual’s symptoms, through years of clinical experience it was discovered that there are common factors between depression and symptoms in the body. Sunny Pills are the result of that discovery and is a unique patented formula specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms of depression and to revitalise your energy. One of my customers had this to say about the effects taking Sunny Pills had on her: “I am 66 and suffered depression most of my life. I have taken the pills for 3 months, gradually decreasing the dose. I am no longer in a dark oppressive place and am making clear decisions. It is so wonderful to feel so alive and lucid.”

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

If your depression is more of a long-term issue and a bit harder to shake, then it may be worth considering that the cause may be physical or genetic rather than just inside your mind. Serious depression can make it difficult to get out of bed, and if left unchecked can turn into agoraphobia. If it feels like you’re surrounded by an eternal stretch of grey nothingness, that there’s no hope for change and that you feel like you just don’t know if you can do this anymore, just remember that NOTHING lasts forever – the law of probability dictates that change will come, you just have to hang in there. It could be your body that’s causing it.

Pyrrole Disorder

Our bodies can work against our sense of wellbeing, and there are clinically diagnosed genetic conditions that can cause severe, anxiety, depression and emotional imbalance. Pyrrole Disorder and MTHFR are two such conditions. Not often recognised my mainstream doctors, they are, however, familiar conditions to integrative GPs and Naturopaths and the good news is that both are easily remedied by taking natural supplements to get the body back into balance.

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

Although Pyroluria, or pyrrole disorder, is usually genetic, it is also a condition that can be caused by stress, which depletes certain vitamins and minerals before they are able to be absorbed. In short, there are three main nutrients that are not properly absorbed in the pyroluric sufferer: vitamin B6, zinc and, once again, magnesium. What it means is an over production of a chemical called pyrroles which binds itself to vitamin B6 and zinc and causes them to be excreted in large amounts.

Deficiencies of B6 and zinc are associated with a wide range of emotional and psychiatric problems. Nervousness, extreme irritability, anxiety, depression, short-term memory problems, and explosive anger have all been linked to pyroluria. A large percentage of patients with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia exhibit high levels of pyroles; alcoholics and emotionally disturbed children also tend to have an abnormally high pyrrole count[12].

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and MindIn addition, zinc deficiencies have been associated with a number of physiological disorders, including poor immune function, poor growth, and delayed sexual development. Because zinc and B6 are so important to both our overall physical and mental health, identifying and treating this devastating condition is critical. BioCeuticals has recently released this ready-to-order supplement called Pyrrole Protect which is available through your practitioner at a fraction of the normal price, $39.95 for 60 tablets  – previously, you would have had to get the supplements compounded for especially for you, which was incredibly expensive.


MTHFR is a gene mutation discovered during the completion of the Human Genome Project. It is passed down from parent to child and if both parents have it, the child will have both mutations. It affects the methylation process where methyl compounds are used in the critical functions of the body – immune function, energy production, mood inflammation, nerve function, detoxification and even DNA – all of which are challenges in chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Methylation helps you process toxins, make hormones, and even helps in the production of neurotransmitters such as melatonin, serotonin, dopamine an GABA (a calming brain chemical)[13]. If this process is inhibited, then it can have a detrimental affect on our mood and can lead to depression.


Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and MindVitamin B12, B6 and folate are essential in this process, but those with MTHFR are more likely to be lacking all three which can lead to poor methylation and a variety of chronic conditions including certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, digestive upset, mood and psychiatric disorders and chronic fatigue. Interestingly, researchers have also made the connection between people with this type of inherited mutation and ADHD, Alzheimer’s, and autism.

Taking supplements is essential to get the body, and your mood, back on track but there are other measures you can also try.

  1. Diet – diet has a huge impact on mood. Go gluten and dairy free and eat green leafy vegetables.
  2. Gut function – believe it or not gut bugs can affect methylation and mess up your brain chemicals. Eat fermented foods and cut down on sugar.
  3. Balance key nutrients that are essential to healthy brain function.
  4. Sleep – sleep or a lack of sleep can affect brain function[14].

Of course, never underestimate the benefits of having an early night. Lifestyle changes such as exercise, meditation, a healthy diet may require more effort, but all have been proven to lift the spirits and spark a chemical change in the brain.

Kicking Depression - The Battle Between Body and Mind

It is vitally important to acknowledge depression. Don’t ignore it or struggle through it on your own, because there are many solutions and supports available. It’s also such a common problem now, that you are definitely NOT alone. The solution may be much simpler than you think.



[1] https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts

[2] https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/vitamin-d

[3] https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/depression/

[4] https://www.nhs.uk/news/2017/06June/Pages/Can-magnesium-help-depression%E2%80%93or-is-it-just-a-placebo.aspx

[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201106/magnesium-and-the-brain-the-original-chill-pill

[6] https://www.beyondanxietyanddepression.com/natural-remedies-anxiety/5-homeopathic-remedies-anxiety

[7] https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/fish-oil-to-treat-depression#1

[8] https://www.google.com.au/search?q=what+is+the+effect+of+serotonin+on+the+body&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-ab&gfe_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=a2-OWo8pi-nzB7m4mMAK

[9] https://writeintothelight.org/2015/02/25/how-a-detox-bath-can-help-ease-depression-symptoms/  

[10] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315481.php

[11] https://draxe.com/essential-oils-for-depression/

[12] https://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/pyroluria.html

[13] https://draxe.com/mthfr-mutation/

[14] https://www.mthfrsupport.com.au/anxiety-and-depression-2/

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