Herbal Remedies For Depression – Do They Actually Work?

Depression is a condition that affects millions of people. When you live with depression, life can often be extremely difficult and challenging, so it’s natural that you may look for some help where you can. 

Herbal Remedies For Depression - Do They Actually Work

Generally speaking, you are advised to speak with your GP for more information and let them know about how you feel. GPs normally look to treat depression with things like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a diet and exercise plan and antidepressants. 

However, sometimes you will hear about herbal remedies which could potentially help with depression, such as saffron or omega-3 acids. But do these actually work?

Well, the short answer is – we don’t know. While there is some evidence that herbal remedies (see also: Herbal Remedies For Anxiety – 10 Calming Options That Will Work)may help with depression, there’s not enough evidence yet to wholly support the claim.

There’s a lot more we need to unpack here though, so I’ve written this handy guide which looks to explain things a little more for you. 

So, if you’re ready to learn more – then read on and get much more information.

Herbal Remedies For Depression 

We will kick off our guide by looking at some of the herbal remedies on the market today and if they can potentially help to treat depression or not. I hope I am able to provide you with a lot more information.


I will start with saffron which I mentioned earlier. Saffron is a spice and it is normally used for seasoning meals or as a food colouring. It’s quite common to see saffron used in Indian meals for example. 

It has a pleasant aroma, which is albeit a little strong at times, and it has a bitter taste when it is not mixed with other ingredients. So, how exactly could this help with depression?

Well, some studies have suggested that saffron extract can help to improve someone’s mood, or at the very least reduce the severity of their depression. However, much more study is necessary on this. 

Moreover, too much saffron can be detrimental to your health. As seen in that study, over five grams of saffron can actually be poisonous. 

Omega-3 Acids 

Herbal Remedies For Depression - Do They Actually Work

Omega-3 acids are the fatty acids found within fish. You may remember seeing a lot of adverts on the television convincing you to consume more omega-3 before, but what exactly would be the benefit of that?

Well, generally omega-3 is suggested as being beneficial for your heart health, skin and vision. As with other remedies, it’s important not to consume too much, because it can interfere with other medications if you take them. 

When it comes to depression symptoms, omega-3 may be beneficial to those who live with bipolar disorder – but the research is not yet convincing, and it’s not clear whether omega-3 acids can help alleviate all types of depression or not. 

Vitamin D Supplements 

One study looked at the role that vitamin D could play when it comes to depression in adults. Their findings suggested that vitamin D supplements (see also: What Are The Best Vitamins & Supplements For Anxiety? (5 Examples))positively impacted those with major depressive disorder. 

However, it’s important to note here that this study was focused on MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), it did not look at other forms of depression. So we’re still not sure whether vitamin D supplements would be useful for everyone.

It’s also important to note that if you decide to take vitamin D supplements, you need to follow the instructions carefully to avoid possible overdose, or at the very least a reverse effect. 

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)

This herbal remedy has been around now for a while and it’s been a matter of contention for many researchers. If you’re not familiar with this product, it’s pretty much a sulphur containing compound that some studies suggest can help with depression. 

While there are some good and positive signs of this remedy for depression, there are also some horror stories from researchers. As seen in this newspaper article, researchers have warned that SAMe can be detrimental to your health, particularly your liver. 

Other Remedies For Depression 

As we have seen from the home remedies above, there are many potential avenues out there – but there’s no conclusive evidence of their efficacy. With that said, you might be wondering if there’s something else you can do to alleviate your symptoms.

Below, I explore some of your options and what you might wish to do if you are living with depression.

Speak With Your GP 

First and foremost, it’s important to speak with your GP if you find that you are struggling. Your doctor should be able to provide you with much more tailored advice, and you should be able to work with them to find treatments more suitable for you. 

Speak With Friends Or Family 

Herbal Remedies For Depression - Do They Actually Work

It’s very important that you maintain a dialogue with your friends and family. People are essential to our lives, so it’s critical to let others know when you find yourself in challenging times. 

One reason that depression can seemingly get worse is due to isolation. As a result, it’s very important to reach out and communicate with others as often as you can. When all is said and done, humans are social creatures and require interactions to maintain normality. 

Improve Or Review Your Diet 

The right diet is essential for your everyday health, and this isn’t just physical health – we’re also talking about mental health. When you have an “unhappy body”, you can have an unhappy mind – and this can make depression symptoms worse.

So, one of the ways that you can potentially treat some depression symptoms at home is by improving your diet. Remember to speak with a professional before you rapidly alter your diet though. 

Typically, we need protein, vitamins, minerals and other essentials to survive – but as everyone is different, it’s critical that you know what you need (see also: Mushrooms For Anxiety – What You Need To Know?)specifically. 

Exercise When You Can 

Exercising can help our brains to release endorphins which make us feel happy. Generally, some depression is due to the fact that the release of these hormones is not working as it should.

Luckily though, exercise can help to get these receptors firing again. While exercise won’t be the “golden” answer to depression, it can significantly help with symptoms.

One way you can combine some of these remedies is by organising a walking day or fitness day with your friend on a weekly basis. It will allow you to engage in social activities, exercise and have something to look forward to every week. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

Sometimes, a GP or other professional may refer you for CBT and this can be done at home or in small classes or 1-1 sessions. The idea behind CBT is, in short, to “reprogramme” the way your mind sees and responds to things.

CBT can help with some forms of depression, but as with other remedies – it might not be useful for you specifically, so it’s always a good idea to speak with your GP first.

The Bottom Line 

Depression can be treated but everyone is different – so if you are looking for ways to treat depression, consider speaking with your GP, family and friends first. 

Clare McAfee
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