Should We All Be Using 'Nature's Antidepressants'?

It’s just not that simple.
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According to Champion Health, depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, affecting around one in six adults in the UK. While the condition is usually conveyed as merely sadness or being unresponsive, it’s actually something that manifests in many ways, both mentally and physically.

Depression is usually treated with talk therapies and medications, depending on what the doctor feels is best for the patient but according to one performance coach on Twitter, all we really need is ‘nature’s antidepressants’. Hm.

According to the coach, all we need is the sun, good sex, the forest, the ocean, meditation, breathwork, weightlifting, good friends, zone 2 cardio, walking 8-10k steps and nutrient-dense foods. Do you think that’s all in one day orrr…?

In all seriousness, are these things better than prescribed antidepressants?

Well, no.

Speaking to Fortune, Sheehan Fisher, PHD, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences said that it’s not quite that simple: “If you’re someone who has clinical depression or more severe mental health conditions, these things alone may not be sufficient.”

The behaviours that the coach discusses can increase dopamine which is known as the ‘pleasure hormone’ which Fisher says is “important, but not necessarily enough to resolve depression’ but adds that his suggestions can ’impact the mood to reduce depressive symptoms for many individuals.”

In fact, suggesting that we don’t need medication to treat depression adds to a stigma that is already attached to the condition.

A study conducted in 2018 of the public’s perception of depression found that 30% of participants had the stigmatising belief that a weak personality causes depression and only 58.9% believed in the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy (medication) for depression.

It should go without saying that using medication to treat a medical condition isn’t the wrong path to take, even if it’s a condition that seemingly only affects moods.

According to NHS Inform, depression can cause not getting any enjoyment out of life, having low self-esteem, feeling hopeless, unexplained aches and pains, disturbed sleep and a loss of energy, among many other symptoms.

It’s a real illness that can be effectively treated with medication and in fact, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, not only are antidepressants effective within weeks for people experiencing depression, they can treat more chronic cases of the condition too.

‘Natural’ treatments for depression can work as self-help tools

Of course, the coach’s recommendations are ways that people find joy, good health, and fitness. They won’t always feel possible if you’re experiencing the symptoms of depression but on lighter days, it is worth spending time in nature, being creative, and trying to look after yourself as much as you can.

The national mental health charity Mind has a range of tools and advice to help you help yourself, without stigmatising the condition you’re experiencing.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on