I've been prescribed SSRI pills for depression and anxiety. Is there an alternative?


I've been prescribed SSRI pills for depression and anxiety. Is there an alternative?

 | By Steve Walker | @SteveWalkerWeb

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI pills, such as Zoloft and Sertaline are designed to artificially increase the production of the mood-boosting neurotransmitter, serotonin.

⚠️ Please remember: the advice given in this article should never be a substitute for proper medical advice. If in any doubt whatsoever, please contact a medical professional.

To the question above, in short, emphatically yes is the answer! There are definitely alternatives to consider before taking medication to rectify a chemical imbalance. Below is some of our suggestions to try.

Exercise regularly

Me personally, I find that exercise is the single best thing for clearing my mind of anxiety and stress. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety at bay once you're feeling better from a previous attack.

Find an activity you can do regularly or take part in a team sport once a week. It builds a great team-bonding mentality and can be very social.

If you prefer to be alone, simple things like going for a walk in the countryside or taking a pet for a walk can break the cycle of negative thinking.

Try these suggestions for at least a month before resorting to SSRI pills.

Keeping a diary

Keeping a daily diary can help make you more aware of yourself. Putting feelings down on to paper (or an app) helps you get to know yourself better. This can bring thoughts and feelings to the surface. You may be surprised by what you write, you may also find that you're worried about something you didn't know was upsetting you until you wrote it down.

Supplementing 5-HTP

Serotonin is made directly from tryptophan, which is an amino acid found in most dietary protein sources. If you are deficient, you can supplement with 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which is the easiest form of tryptophan for your brain to process.

Many types of beans are rich in 5-HTP, but you can also purchase 100mg supplements. These should be taken twice a day. This is the best way to maintain normal serotonin levels, and in turn, improve your moods.

Avoiding all stimulants

What you're eating and drinking may also be contributing to negative feelings. Avoiding stimulants such as coffee, tea, cigarettes and energy drinks as they can cause anxiety as well as mood swings. I would experiment with cutting out refined sugars from food and drink. So, make sure to avoid all fizzy soft drinks, sweets and even savoury foods with high amounts of sugar in.

Eat a healthier diet

Be sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains (such as brown rice), and fibre like beans and lentils. Also ensure your intake of fish and lean proteins like chicken are kept up too.

A great way to combat depression can be to boost your levels of omega-3 essential fats which can be found in oily fish and flax seeds. These fats are vital for correct brain function. There is more and more evidence to suggest supplementing them into your diet can help people prone to depression.

In addition, taking a multivitamin high in B vitamins can also help out.

So, there you have it, five tips and lifestyle changes to try before resorting to SSRI pills. I would recommend trying these suggestions for at least a month and keep an eye on the results.

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