Natural Remedies

Dealing with Depression Naturally

| Modified on Feb 11, 2024

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder described by feelings and behaviors of negativity and sadness; an emotional state of loss that can affect our everyday actions, how we perceive ourselves, and the world around us. Feelings associated with depression are sadness, worry, emptiness, anxiety, worthlessness, guilt, and anxiety; but other symptoms of depression may include restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, or even digestion issues.

A diagnosis of depression can be ambiguous and can be used as a blanket term for feeling low or blue, or be symptomatic of other mood disorders; however, it is important to call a distinction between how we casually talk about someone being depressed and clinical depression, or major depression, as a major mood disorder as diagnosed through a psychiatrist. Diagnosis is based off of self-reported experience or from friends and family, and a clinical assessment. Common onset occurs in ages 20-30, with the incidence rate peaking between 30 and 40.

Natural Treatment for Depression

Below we have nearly a hundred different user-submitted home remedies and natural cures for dealing with depression. People have posted success stories in dealing with depression using apple cider vinegar, 5-HTP, fish oil, and even cold shower therapy. From exercise to diet, here are many options for those suffering from all kinds of depression.

Additional Pages of Interest:



16 User Reviews
5 star (15) 

Posted by dhi22 (Mississippi) on 01/21/2023

Julia Ross, who wrote the Mood Cure, recommends taking 5 HTP 50 mg pills, 1-3 pills at mid afternoon and 1-3 pills at bedtime. If you haven't tried it before, she says to start with 1 pill, if you don't feel any difference in an hour, take a second one, and if still no difference in another hour, take a 3rd. At whatever point you feel a difference, that is your dose. She does not recommend 100 mg pills, I suppose because it limits the ability to start low and gradually increase, only as needed. Obviously, if you feel weird on it or have some side effect, don't take it. Her book is a great resource for how/when/why and side effects to look for when taking various aminos and supplements for mood. She also distinguishes between the "Blues" type of depression and the "Blahs" type of depression and recommends aminos/supplements accordingly.

Replied by dhi22

addendum to my post about 5HTP- the info I shared from Julia Ross' book was for someone who is not on prescription medications for mood issues/anxiety/depression. You need to work with your doctor when adding supplements to your prescription regimen or trying to gradually move from prescriptions to supplements. Definitely don't do that alone. You want to avoid serotonin syndrome or other complications.

Posted by Misty (Indiana, US) on 07/18/2014

5-HTP gives me terrible nightmares. It seems as if every night I am waking up screaming or crying, which has never happened to me even as a child. Every night for 2 weeks, I have dreamt that horrible things happened to family members, friends, and me. I also get these weird hallucinations when I am about to drift off to sleep where suddenly I see a giant spider or something on my pillow, then I'll scream and wake up. It is all but impossible to get up in the morning, even when I am done sleeping.

I started out taking 100mg before bed, then gave it a week and tried 100 in morning and 100 before bed, gave it another week and tried 100 in morning and 200 before bed, then tried 100 in morning, 100 in afternoon, 200 before bed, which I've been doing for the past 2 weeks. It does not seem to be helping my depression at all; in fact, it seems as if it has gotten worse.

Replied by Misty
(Indiana, US)

I also forgot to mention that it has all but completely killed my appetite. I noticed I can't seem to eat more than 1000 calories a day. I've been trying to force myself to eat more but just feel nauseous. I previously had zero problems eating enough.

@Timh Just because it's a naturally occurring amino acid does not mean that it won't cause problems if dosed unnecessarily. Overdosing on any essential nutrient can cause harmful side effects and even death. I have done my research and found that these are all documented side effects of 5-HTP, so clearly it doesn't work for everyone.

Also, I don't believe I need to detox. I eat very clean (paleo and mostly organic), live in a rural area, and detox several times a year. I rarely ever get sick and do not have any other symptoms that indicate toxicity.

However, thank you for your recommendations. I have tried St. Johns Wort, but it doesn't work for me either. I do take some L-Tyrosine in a supplement called True Focus, but I have never tried it separately. I did see marked improvement with SAMe in the past, but I tried 5-HTP in the hopes that a less expensive alternative would work for me.

Replied by Gord235
(Vancouver, British Columbia)

To Misty: I have been taking 5HTP 50mg per day for three months and find that it's really effective for depression. However, if I double the dose to 100mg I do have some weird dreams so maybe try dropping your dose.

Replied by Gord235
(Vancouver, British Columbia)

Update: I just want to add that my dreams when doubling the dose to 100mg/day have been not so much weird but vivid and funny. I quite often find myself waking up laughing so that's okay. Obviously not everything affects everyone the same and 5HTP is a good example of this.

Replied by Gord235
(Vancouver, British Columbia)

CAUTION: If coming off of an SRI (saratonin reuptake inhibitor) such as paxel, do not stop the SRI suddenly (cold turkey). Instead, cut your dose in half for a week then take 1/4 dose for the second week.

5HTP can be started at any time and will not interfere with an SRI. Start with 50mg/day of 5HTP, then increase to 100mg/day if required.

Replied by Idot13

Did you first try worm tablets? Most of the time it can be the cause if nothing is working for you.


What is worm tablets?

Posted by Neukoln (Edinburgh, Scotland, Uk) on 02/08/2013

I too had very good results with 5HTP. I was initially taking too much and got the anxiety that people mention. But I cut back the dose and it is so much better. I think people need to experiment with the times of the day that is best for them, and the dosage. I open the 100mg capsule and take 50mg in a tiny bit of water 30mins before breakfast - it helps get rid of the morning catatonia. I take 100mg in a tiny bit of water 30mins before dinner - it helps get rid of the comfort eating in the evening. And I take 50mg in a tiny bit of water at bedtime. I think you need to take it on an empty stomach. It seems to work better that way. But 5HTP definitely works for me - it was matter of finding the right dose and time of day to take it.

Replied by Andrew
(Cambridge, England)

also mate.. St Johns Wort. Hypericum... Amongst other things, it's earth's natural antidepressant... Raises your serotonin levels as does 5htp. but St Johns Wort is more natural.

Replied by Amy
(Los Angeles, Ca, United States)

Thank you very much for your advice! I am wondering: Do you take any other supplements to combat anxiety and depression?

Amy :)

Replied by Frank
(Lebanon, Beirut)

Other supplements for anxiety and depression include: omega 3 vitamin D, Magnesium zinc and B12

Also B6 B9 and (Vitamins A, C, E and selenium to help you get rid of the extra toxin load causing your anxiety)

Vitamins are best absorbed through food. for example omega 2 through flax seeds, zinc and b12 through liver of goat, or sheep or chicken or even cow.

  • vitamin d through sunlight or you can take pill 5000IU a day cuz its very imp
  • vitamin a: carrot juice apricots
  • vitamin c brocoli lemon guava kiwi strawberries parsley yellow bell pepper etc
  • magnesium through magnesium chloride oil rub
  • vitamin e through almonds, spinach, almond oil, hazelnuts spinach
  • selenium through brasil nuts, mustard seeds and garlic are the best sources.

These are power foods that can be used instead of supplements if used properly.

Also load up on potassium food to alkalize your body, like avocado, potatoe peels, banana, pumpkin and goji berries which are very rich in potassium and nutrients.

Replied by Alan

Take out of your diet all sugars, grains, pastas, breads, sweet fruits and you will see a great difference in your mood ....paleo diet or atkins....

Posted by Steve (Las Vegas, Nv Nevada) on 02/07/2013

When I was going through extreme depression due to adrenal exhaustion I found taking 5HTP pulled me right out of the depression. I knew my serotonin was low and the 5HTP brought me back to normal levels. I started with a dosage of 50mg and gradually increased until I felt I could smile again. I beleive 5HTP is as close as you can get to the actual serotonin produced by your body.

Posted by Amy (Los Angeles, Ca, United States) on 02/07/2013

Hi All! I take 60 mg of an anti-depressant (1 capsule, twice a day (doesn't really help) and depression. I also take 2 mg of an anti-anxiety (1 tablet, twice a day) for anxiety. I am trying to get off all my Rxs. I have been reading up on 5-HTP and weaning, which I did already know about, but my question is: How do I wean when the anti-depressant comes in capsule form (30 mg/capsule). I feel like there will be no way for me to know how much I am taking if I open the capsule to get to the medication. Also, I have gone from 60 mg to 30 mg, and even that was simply awful! Any help with this weaning situation is most appreciated! Amy

Replied by Kelly
(Cambridge, Ma)

You have to wean very slowly - about 5mg's at a time with your anxiety med and about 10mg's at a time with your SSRI/anti-depressant. It's why dropping from the 60mg to 30 made you feel horrible. It's too quick a drop. The rule of thumb is, the slower the better.

Anxiety med - Instead of 2mg's, take 1.5 mg's/day for a couple of weeks by taking 1 tab as your first dose and a 1/2 tab as your second, or vice versa. After two weeks, go to 1mg - 1/2 tab am and pm for two weeks, then to 1/2mg per day for 2 weeks, etc.

SSRI/Anti-depressant - Since it's in capsule form, you could ask your MD to prescribe them in smaller doses, making it easy for you to wean down 10mgs at a time, or pick yourself up some empty capsules. You'll find them at GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe, etc. You can split your 60mg capsule into smaller doses. It's labor-intensive, but it will get the job done.

Start by opening the capsule and dividing its contents into 6 lines (eyeballing it to approx. 10 mgs in each line). Then, only put 5 of the lines into the empty capsules (25 each) so that you'll be taking a total of 50mg's per day for a couple of weeks.

After a couple of weeks, do the same - divvy up your capsules, except put only 4 of the lines into your empty capsules, then 3, 2, etc. taking each dose for a couple of weeks.

When you get to the point where you have weaned down to the final 10mg of the anti-depressant, make your last final two week dose 5mg/day and you should be good to go.

Hang in there. You'll do fine.

Replied by Amy
(Los Angeles, Ca, United States)

I had a feeling that weaning with a capsule would entail what you suggest. I just wasn't sure how to begin, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I shall proceed with your suggestion. By any chance, do you know how, when, and how much to start adding the supplements, like 5-htp?

Amy :)

Replied by Mrs Betty

You can empty out the capsule and divide the contents in half with a knife. It is not precisely exact but quite close. This tip was given to me by a hospital pharmacist.

Posted by She (Richmond, Virginia, United States) on 10/23/2012

I'm on Effexor for depression and anxiety. I would love to stop taking it and try something more natural. But I know from previous experience that if I forget to take it within 6 hours I start having withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms are like having a really bad bout of the flu. Can't get out of bed, have really vivid dreams, etc. What is 5 -HTP and how could I start taking that and get rid of the Effexor? Thanks for any advise!

Replied by Andreea
(Grimsby, On< Canada)

Hi, I was on effexor for about a year and decided I would stop, since it made me feel like a zombie. I did it alone, with no medical support. I started by lowering the dose. Half a dose one day, full dose tomorrow, half a dose next day and so on for about a week, then one more day added with the lower dose, on so on until I got to the minimum dose every day of the week. Then I would take it one day on, one day off and so on. The first few days with no medication were hard, I had headaches and I was a bit confused and couldn't focus, but I was determined. So, slowly, one day at a time, I stopped taking it altogether. I hope this helps.

Replied by Juliette
(Reston, Va)

Check out the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Really lays out a plan for you, helps you identify what your mood type is. Very simple and easy to read. Has chapter on getting off anti depressants! Lots of information on 5htp and other amino acids... can get it used off amazon for pretty cheap. Good luck!

(fyi when I took 5htp I took it twice a day once in afternoon once at night really worked for me)

Replied by Wayout
(Motown, Ca/ Usa)

Hi She! One of the major uses of ascorbic acid is its use as a detoxifying agent. It even is used on poisonous snakebite! It nullifies toxic effects, while enhancing drug effectiveness, so less is often needed - and doctor should be consulted first to be really safe about lowering dose, or titrating off. That said, all too often they just want to put one on $omething el$e... at least that's how mine was, though I was dying right in front of him.

Be prepared for a lot of toxic withdrawl symptoms if you do it without some good detoxifying agent. It was a nightmare the way I did it, a decade ago, and it doesn't have to be that way at all. --T.

Posted by Brian (Boulder, Co) on 03/02/2012


My caution is quite different: there is a VERY good chance your doctor will advise against 5-HTP (or any natural remedy). For many, that avenue then becomes a dead end.

I use 5-HTP now after being prescribed pharmaceuticals, and it is at least as effective. The dark secret about meds is that for many of us they don't do much in the first place, and eventually they destroy your liver (which happened to my sister, with many serious health consequences).

My advice for wearning yourself off your meds (which is what I did) is to do it VERY slowly, and introduce 5-HTP as slowly. At least 3 months, until the dosages you are taking are just tiny crumbs. This will keep your side effects down to a bare minimum. Good luck!

Posted by Rachel (Manchester, New Hampshire, Usa ) on 01/10/2012

You want the 5HTP to create serotonin in your brain, not your gut. The nausea from 5HTP comes about when the body makes serotonin in the gut rather than the brain. When Europeans take 5HTP they take it with a decarboxylase inhibitor so this will not happen. Try taking it sublingually. I've taken 5HTP on and off for years, but lately I'm having better results with Source Naturals' brand of Tryptophan. (See their website for a comparison of 5HTP and Tryptophan. ) When you take any amino acids, like Tryptophan, do not take with any other protein... Wait 2 or 3 hours, if possible. This may also apply to 5HTP. Amino Acids compete with each other to get into the brain, so it won't be effective if taken too near protein. Take these amino acid pills with fruits or fruit juices. Also take magnesium, folate, vitamin C and especially Vitamin B6 along with the 5HTP or Tryptophan to help your brain create serotonin. See LEF. ORG, then "tryptophan" for a helpful writeup. Here's a very good article:

You can also call LEF (Life Extension Foundation) for a free consultation (tel. 800-226-2370). I got relief from depression by following the GFCF diet (Gluten Free, Casein Free = no dairy, no wheat, barley, no rye, no oats unless gluten-free oats. ) My life picked up from that diet. Lots of info online about it; also see the book THE ULTRAMIND SOLUTION by Mark Hyman, M. D. Also I got great results by learning how to increase serotonin through diet. Do see this excellent book: NATURAL PROZAC by Dr. Joel Robertson. You can start by reading the reviews on Amazon for these books.

Replied by Jc
(Boston, USA)

Rachel, You are right on. The reason eliminating irritants to the gut like gluten help is that many hormones and neurotransmitters like seratonin are manufactuered in the gut. Take good care of your digestive track by eliminating junk food and highly processed foods. Personally, I have found that Tryptophan is more effective than 5htp. Good post and thanks.

Posted by Steve (Las Vegas, Nevada) on 09/20/2011

For me it 5-HTP pulled me right out of a severe depression and the difference was immediate, like night and day. I took a 200mg Now brand 5HTP cap and put about half under my tongue for sublingual absorbtion. You can look at this reference for low serotonin levels as well as other neurotransmitters.

Peace, Steve

Posted by Steve (Las Vegas, Nevada, United States) on 08/16/2011

Yes, 5HTP was a lifesaver for me. I had depression so bad that I would cry at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. I took one 200mg NOW brand cap, opened it up and placed the powder under my tongue. I figured it would be absorbed faster this way. I was right. Within an hour I was back to myself, cracking jokes with my wife and feeling normal again. If you are low on seratonin this supplement is the ticket. I take a 5HTP whenever my body tells me too which is occasionally. I don't think it's good to be on this supplement forever as it is said to deplete dopamine levels, another important neurotransmitter. The big question is how do you know if you are low in seratonin? These are some of the telltale signs of low seratonin:

Anxiety - This can be anything from mild panic to extreme impairment and distress in a high-stress situation.

Fatigue - If you catch yourself being tired all the time regardless of the amount of sleep you get, consider caffeine a major food group and habitually experience mental fogginess, there may be something other than just being too tired.

Depression - Let's face it, everyone has times when they're just down and melancholy, it's part of life; however, if you have "the blues" consistently for extended periods of time you may be experiencing a depressed mood that may require additional intervention.

Impaired cognitive function - Can't remember where you put the car keys and have to think hard about simple math? Cognitive function is directly impacted by serotonin levels and a severe deficiency may result in mental fogginess, minor memory loss and slowed problem-solving abilities.

Low self-esteem - Habitually feeling disgusted by yourself or feeling worthless are not normal things. At times, everyone is bound to believe negative things about themselves. If this severely low self-esteem keeps up for weeks or months, other issues may be the cause.

Loss of pleasure - A marked loss of interest in hobbies previously enjoyed or a sudden lack of even a sense of satisfaction at a job well done are also symptoms of a serotonin deficiency. When the noted lack of pleasure gotten out of activities becomes nearly non-existent, it may be something beyond mere boredom.

Insomnia - Though everyone has the occasional difficulties sleeping at night due to stress or anxiety, insomnia or hyposomnia can be seriously detrimental to health if you're repeatedly not able to sleep until very late hours and only manage to get a few hours of sleep each night or have sleep that is consistently interrupted by waking and being unable to go back to sleep quickly. On the same token hypersomnia, or too much sleep, may also be a symptom of serotonin deficiency.

Poor impulse control - This may often manifest itself in obsessive-compulsive behaviors, manic spending or in addictions such as drugs or alcohol. Many severe addictions are caused or exacerbated by low levels of serotonin.

Peace, Steve

Posted by Joylie (Solana Beach, Ca) on 08/15/2011

I love 5-HTP. It has helped me while I've gone through some pretty tough times. I just take 50 mg. Every night. But even at that lowest dose, it has made a big difference for me. :-)

Posted by Linda (Atlanta, Ga) on 07/01/2011

5HTP helps me very well when I have the Blues. I take only 50mg in the morning. It works very subtle. I notice when I do not take it. I also take PS (Phosphatidylserine). It helps me get up and do my work and it helps me with procrastination. I found with 5HTP that it works better in low dosages. When people take too much they experience anxiety.

Posted by Gtijes (Allentown, Pa) on 08/24/2010

Hey, I have always struggled with depression and anxiety since I was young. However, it wasn't until my father passed away very suddenly that I started taking lorazepam & citalopram for extreme anxiety and depression. I am really not into prescriptions unless absolutely necessary. Does anyone know how to start to switch off of prescriptions onto 5-htp? I can never find any answers if it's ok to start weaning off of the prescriptions and introducing the 5-htp right away. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I really want to get off of these meds right away. Thanks!

Replied by Lily
(Brisbane, Australia)

Hi Gtijes, the best thing to do is ask your chemist/pharmacist if 5htp is safe to be taken with the meds you are on and then if it is safe you can go into one of the hundreds of forums on the internet that help you and suggest how to reduce and finally stop taking your prescription medication. You can then add in your dosage of 5htp that you think is necessary to replace your reducing meds. I hope you succeed with ease. Lily.

Replied by Anon
(Somewhere, Usa)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE talk to either your doctor or a pharmacist before you proceed with this. I took meds for panic attacks and the side effects were the most horrible experience to go through during the weaning process. A family member went through bad experience with it too and ended up trying to end her life. These medications are dangerous and should be illegal for doctors to pass out scripts the way they do.

Replied by Anonymous

I agree. But ideally you should do this with the assistance an experienced professional who is willing to help you with the switch and is aware of your medical history. If you want to do it alone, make sure that, at the very minimum, you are very knowledgeable about the risks involved, and talk to people who have done it as well. Even so, consider the risks: this change can trigger a serious reaction, these are anti-depressants we are talking about. Any change in your existing drug regimen will result in chance for your brain chemistry. Be safe.

Posted by Denisse (Long Beach, CA, USA) on 05/07/2009

5-HTP for depression. This little pill did wonders for me. I had been feeling depressed for around a month due to heavy family problems. When I finally put all my symptoms together (oversleeping, hopelessness, sadness, emotionally unstable) I instantly came to this site. Cold showers did not appeal to me at all; I live in sunny CA and still get cold. I ordered the pills and thankfully they came the next day. I take one or two (depending on how I am doing) 100mg pills a day. My mood has definitely improved and I am finally returning to my normal self. They also seem to have reduced my terrible headaches. I recommend 5-HTP to all!

Replied by Steve
(Las Vegas, Nevada)

If the 5htp is a capsule you way want to try emptying it under your tongue for sublingual absorbtion. That way you don't have to process it through your digestive tract and avoid the nausea. I hold the 5htp powder under my tongue for about an hour or until I feel like I have absorbed it. This way has worked well for me.

Posted by Kellie (Vancouver BC, Canada) on 01/13/2008

Hi I found 5 htp a couple of years ago on the internet, looking for something to help my sadness and depression, so i heard about 5 htp , well i was desprite and i took 2 100 every day , it helped me so so much, I go off it some times because the side effects for me are, it makes me get my period more often , mind you i think that is when i was taking 300 mg . and also it has caused me to get itchy palms of my hand ,and the back of my head . but now that iv gone down on them and taken a break for a few months , im good . but i have to go on them because it helps me so much for depression. i have just discovered the 5 htp with 200 mg L- Ter , wow as far as I'm concerned its a bloody miracle. it changes my whole mood . makes me very happy .but for sure one other side effect I'm not as hungry when im on it . and i dream more vividly. but as far as I'm concerned it's a wonder drug, sorry for the spelling. let's just hope the drug companies don't take them away.

Replied by Fred
(Pleasanton, California)

Could give the full spelling of what you meant by L-ter ?

EC: L-ter = L-tyrosine (??)