Mood, that enigmatic and ever-present force, acts as the texture and ambience of each moment. Countless activities become pleasure or pain purely on the basis of which mood infuses the moment.
Mood imbalance is one of the most commonly described health concerns. Even for those who manage to escape the development of mood disorder, periods of excess emotional volatility can severely diminish the quality of life experiences. Fortunately, there are a number of natural mood enhancers that can help in beating depression, anxiety and emotional unrest.
What Drives Emotional Highs and Lows
Although a variety of emotional reactions is a natural part of a healthy psyche, severe and extended periods of moods that are incoherent with life circumstances may signal the onset of a mood disorder. Such events are believed to arise as the result of an imbalance in the activity of the neurotransmitters responsible for the experiences of sorrow and euphoria. Prescription antidepressants are believed to improve mood by altering the release of neurotransmitters in the brain such as norepinepherine and serotonin. A number of natural approaches act on these same pathways, often with far fewer potential side effects. The beauty of these remedies is that they can work in conjunction with prescription therapy if it is required.
Everyday Remedies to Beat the Blues
Exercise has long been associated with an increased sense of well being. Not only does it help alleviate stress and enhance vitality, exercise also has a measurable emotional effect. While the ‘runner’s high’ felt after a bout of exercise is attributable to endorphins, longer lasting improvements in mood are now understood to be associated with the increased release of serotonin and norepinepherine stimulated by exercise. Breaking a sweat, or at least breaking into a brisk walk, for as little as 20 minutes three days per week can be enough to see an improvement in mood.
Light therapy is most often suggested to residents of northern regions where sun exposure can be notably lacking during the winter months. Even without an arctic zip code, diminished light exposure in winter time can be enough to turn a case of the winter blues into a clinical syndrome known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD. Treatment involves exposure to a special lamp to mimic natural light. Within days of initiating therapy, many people find their symptoms diminishing.
Food and mood are intricately intertwined, a factor that can be used to help beat depression and mood swings. Mild irritability or short-term dips in overall affect can be a sign of fluctuating blood sugar levels. Small, sensible meals every four or five hours is one method to help stabilize both blood sugar and mood. Despite the immediate satisfaction often provided by treats and sweets, avoiding refined sugars is a great way to keep off the emotional roller coaster accompanying any sugar rush.
Mood Supplements: the Simplest Means to Keep the Blues at Bay
Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with improving the symptoms of depression. Found in several types of fish, seeds and nuts, an omega-3 dietary supplement is a great way to ensure enough of this healthy fat is present in the brain to help combat mood problems.
A deficiency of B vitamins such as folate can announce its presence in the form of intermittent mood fluctuations. Folate, abundant in leafy greens and available as a dietary supplement, has been shown to help in beating depression.
Saffron has long been regarded as one of nature’s best mood boosters. Saffron extract concentrates the benefits of saffron in an easy to take supplement. This natural product of the Crocus sativus plant is believed to act similarly to prescription antidepressants in that it enhances the release of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Saffron extract has even been shown to be as effective as the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) at alleviating the symptoms of depression and with fewer side effects. By also acting to curb appetite, Saffron extract helps prevent the unhealthy eating habits that can contribute to emotional roller-coastering.
Learn more about Saffron extract and other mood-boosting supplements