Since my early twenties, yoga has always been one of my top “drugs” of choice. I used to have anxiety as a young girl, I always wanted everything to be perfect. In my first years of college, I got depressed. I gained some weight and felt terrible. Once I moved to Manhattan to transfer to New York University, I discovered yoga and completely changed my life and attitude.
Yoga helped me stay present and learn to act from my own inner guide as opposed to react to what was happening around me. I felt in control and my energy improved. I learned to manage my emotions; and I felt amazing from all of the stretching and deep breathing.
I tried Zoloft when I was struggling in my early twenties and it just didn’t feel good or right. It helped me get out of my initial funk; but didn’t get to the root of the underlying causes for my depression. I am not completely against drugs when people truly need them and have clinical depression; but in addition to yoga, there are many natural ways to help manage depression and anxiety.
The roseroot herb (or to give it her scientific name, Rhodiola Rosea), is a herb that has been proven by scientists to be just as effective as antidepressants like Zoloft; but without any side-effects. The way it works is by simultaneously boosting your nervous system and enhancing your immune system, both of which help fight depression. It also makes a lovely cup of tea. There is insufficient information available regarding safe use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so best to avoid using when pregnant or nursing.
2. Tongkat Ali
This is one of those amazing plants that not enough people know about; a plant that boasts so many benefits from boosting a low sex-drive to fighting constant feelings of fatigue. However, the other thing Tongkat Ali does immensely well is help with depression. To get the best results, grind the roots into a paste, boil it in water and then drink it as a traditional medicine. You can also take it in capsule form.
3. Pump Some Iron
You don’t need to join the gym and lift heavy weights (unless you want to!). Weight lifting and any form of exercise is also great for managing depression; but here I’m talking about consuming more iron. The symptoms of iron deficiency are incredibly similar to depression. Fatigue, a foggy brain, irritability are all a result of low iron. If you want to take iron as a prescription, then your best bet is to check with your doctor about what is best and how much is appropriate. Otherwise, there are certain iron-heavy foods you should add to your diet, things like liver, eggs, fish, tofu, nuts, beans and dried fruits.
Folate is one of the most important ingredients when it comes to overcoming depression. In fact, even prescribed antidepressants will struggle to work if your folate levels are too low. Like with everything, if you want to speak to your doctor and get this in pill form you can. I recommend you start chewing on leafy greens, beans and citrus fruits for incredibly delicious supplements.
Give these a go and of course always check with your doctor if you think you have a more serious underlying problem.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!