People often opt for antidepressants to manage their condition. These drugs may not suit some people and cause serious side effects. While some people don't benefit from them at all due to the severity of their condition
Thus, millions of Americans suffering from psychiatric disorders, seek other sources of health support, like herbal supplements and alternative medicine.
In this article, we cover the herbs and nutrients you can use to relieve anxiety and depression. But first, let's answer, 'Is anxiety and depression a disability?' and if it is, what measures have been taken to support people suffering from it.
Is Anxiety And Depression A Disability?
While in the United States, depression has become one of the most common mental health problems. You will be diagnosed with depression if you experience most or all of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Continuous sadness
- Changes in appetite
- Rapid changes in weight gain
- Emotions of remorse and worthlessness
- Inexplicable pains
- Disturbance in sleep
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Difficulty to focus
- Memory issues
- Suicidal feelings or trials
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) has classified depression as a psychiatric disability. You might be able to cope with a slight depression, but if it becomes severe, it may affect you to a level where you are unable to even go to work.
ADA has set programs to support disabled people due to depression, but not everyone with depression may qualify for them.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it is difficult for people suffering from severe depression to work even if they are undertaking treatments. This is the reason why anxiety and depression are categorized as a disability, particularly for individuals of 15 and 44 years of age.
The average age for depression is 32; however, it can occur at any age. Subsequently, if you have treatment-resistant depression, it is then considered a disability. Nonetheless, to qualify for the disability benefits (financial assistance and health insurance) from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the prerequisite from the ADA is that the disability significantly limits one's life activity.
Financial Support Plans For Disabled People Due To Depression
There are predominantly two SSA financial aid programs for people disable to work because of depression. These include:
I. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
To qualify for SSDI, the associated qualifying points state that you must prove you could not work for a minimum of 12 months along with paid Social Security for the previous 5 out of 10 years. The average amount a patient received through the SSDI program in 2014 was $1,165 per month.
II. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
In order for patients to qualify for SSI benefits and SSDI, you and your spouse must have a low income and very few assets. This excludes your car, home, wedding rings, and burial savings.
On average, SSI payout per month for depression disability in 2015 was $733 for single individuals and $1100 for married couples.
The Herbs And Nutrients That Can Help Relieve Anxiety And Depression
Studies have shown that people with mental disorders have nutritional deficiencies such as B vitamins, minerals, and omega–3 fatty acids.
Moreover, Asian diets generally lack fruits and vegetables, something that further causes mineral and vitamin deficiencies. The importance of herbs and nutrients for anxiety and depression is discussed below.
Ashwagandha, scientific name Withania somnifera, is a traditional ayurvedic herb popular in Indian medicine. It is also referred to as Indian ginseng and winter cherry.
Ashwagandha is considered one of those herbs that help ease stressful conditions that are both physical and psychological in nature.
A study has shown that Ashwagandha preserves brain function and protects it from Alzheimer's disease. The roots of the herb are particularly beneficial for this property.
Ashwagandha has long been used traditionally for its immense beneficial effects on mitigating the physical and mental consequences that occur as a result of chronic stress. It is also reported to have the potential of lowering cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone.
A study demonstrated that doses of 250 mg per day of ashwagandha supplement taken for 60 days could significantly decrease serum cortisol levels and anxiety levels in patients with anxiety. One such supplement is Organic Ashwagandha Root Powder With Black Pepper.
Saffron has been known to be in use for 3500 years. It is popularly referred to as a "cheering cardiac medicament." While it is one of the most costly herbs in use by weight, but it is affordable as it is used in small quantities because of its high potency, on top of being safe. It should be taken regularly for about 4-6 weeks for any noticeable difference.
A study has shown that saffron is efficacious for improving the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, serotonergic, neuroprotective, and neuroendocrine potential that help in treating depression and anxiety disorders in patients. It can be used as sprinkles on dressings and can be added to foods for flavor. You can also opt for a supplement form such as Golden Saffron Extract.
One of the most popular herbs that are particularly used to make tea is chamomile. Besides giving a unique flavor to tea, the chamomile tree also serves as a therapeutic herb for several health issues.
Sourced from daisy-like flowers, chamomile trees belong to the Asteraceae plant family. When used as a tea, the dried chamomile flowers are added to hot water, left for a few minutes, and then consumed for a relaxing and calming effect.
Chamomile is rich in antioxidants that make it a beneficial herb to scavenge free radicals and relieve the body from toxins. It also helps induce deep sleep and supports digestion, which may help in calming anxiety and depression.
According to a 2016 study, using chamomile extract for the long-term substantially decreased the symptoms of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you feel tired or lazy to use it as a tea, you can consider taking chamomile in supplement blend as a Natural Sleep Aid.
4. Ginkgo Biloba
The ginkgo tree leaves have therapeutic potential for various health issues, including mental disorders, particularly Alzheimer's disease, and sexual problems.
Ginkgo biloba has a therapeutic effect in delaying the degeneration of the cognitive system of individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
This effect of Ginkgo biloba is similar to medicine donepezil that is used for mental issues but is associated with minimal risk of side effects. Moreover, using ginkgo biloba can reduce sexual problems that are induced by antidepressants.
However, one has to use this therapeutic herb regularly for at least 8 weeks continuously in order to see noticeable results.
5. Folic Acid
Folic acid is found in various foods, including beans, cereals, fortified bread, etc. It can be taken in the form of natural meals or as a supplement.
Mostly, folic acid is prescribed by doctors to pregnant women and patients who suffer from depression.
If it is taken along with antidepressant medicines, folic acid helps relieve anxiety symptoms. The recommended dose for adults, as per federal guidelines, is 400 micrograms.
However, you should not rely only on folic acid supplements for treating depression and anxiety because it serves merely as an adjunct to other therapies. Consult your doctor for advice on how much folic acid to take per day.
6. Vitamin B Complex
While all vitamins are essential for the body, vitamin B complex particularly, vitamin B-6 and B-12, are crucial for your brain's health. Deficiency in these vitamins is often associated with depression and anxiety, as vitamins help produce chemicals that enhance mood and other brain activities.
According to a study, it was reported that combined use of folic acid and vitamin B-12 decreased symptoms of depression. The recommended dose of vitamin B supplements by the National Institute of Health for adults more than 14 years old is 2.4 micrograms in a day.
However, vitamin B supplements may interfere with other medications. Thus, it is important to talk to your doctor about the safe dosage.
You can replenish your vitamin B levels by eating more foods rich in the vitamin B complex. These include fresh fruits, eggs, dairy products, fish, and meat. Alternatively, you can also take vitamin B complex supplements, like Advanced Antianxiety Formula - Chill Pill.
7. Green Tea
Although green tea is famous for its potential health benefits, especially its antioxidant effects, making it useful for weight loss and better skin, it also has a promising impact on enhancing mood and alleviating depression.
The mood-boosting effects of green tea come from the amino acid theanine found in it. The calming effects of theanine can bring about an increase in serotonin and dopamine levels in the body.
A 2017 research shows that enhanced self-reported relaxation and reduction in tension occurs with a dose of 200 mg of theanine.
While green tea is an excellent alternative to tea, you can add supplements like Spark to your diet too. As it is an optimal blend of extracts of other therapeutic herbs, multivitamins, and minerals for cognitive support
8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in copious amounts in cold-water fish such as sardines, salmon, and anchovies. In case you do not like to eat fish, omega-3 fatty acids can also be obtained in the form of fish oil capsules.
Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for the treatment of bipolar depression and anxiety. If used with antidepressant medicines, omega-3 supplements enhance their efficacy.
Clinical evidence has shown a low prevalence of mental disorders in people who consume a high-fish diet that contains adequate omega-3 fatty acids.
According to the American psychiatric association, adults should consume fish at least two times a week. You should always consult your doctor prior to adding supplements to your diet to treat depression and anxiety to avoid any potential complications.
9. Leafy Green Vegetables
Evidence has shown that individuals with a sufficient number of fruits and vegetables incorporated in their diet experience lesser symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.
It has been further demonstrated that people whose diet consists mostly of fruits and vegetables tend to be happier, more satisfied, have substantially fewer symptoms of mental issues, remain more optimistic, and are more purposeful and satiated about their lives as compared to those who eat very few to no fresh fruits and veggies. This is also true for those who choose to eat raw and fresh items rather than canned or processed ones.
Comprehensively, the list has been narrowed down to the ten topmost potentially beneficial raw fruits and vegetables for improved mental health and reduced symptoms of depression. These are dark leafy greens, for example, spinach, lettuce, cucumber; carrots; bananas; apples; grapefruit, other citrus fruits, kiwifruit, and fresh berries.
Melatonin helps in the regulation of circadian rhythms in the body, for example, the sleep-wake cycle. It is typically used for sleep disorders and associated problems.
Melatonin is effective in improving the quality of sleep in individuals with major depression, schizophrenia, and seasonal affective disorder.
A melatonin supplement can be used as an alternative to several drugs for both adults and children. Doses of 0.25 to 0.3 are believed to induce better sleep. Always start with a low dose in the beginning. Take your supplement at night time to ensure a good night's sleep and avoid daytime sleepiness. Also, consult your physician for the right dose and any potential complications with your current medications.
Depression and anxiety are a widespread problem. Millions of people are the globe are suffering from these mental issues. Incorporating natural remedies in your diet can play a significant role in alleviating your symptoms. However, make sure to regularly visit your doctor and never miss an appointment for a thorough checkup and accurate management of your condition.
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