Getting Back to your Happy Self: Naturopathic Medicine Approaches to Depression

Depression is a growing concern in our communities. Chances are, you or someone you know has experienced depression.  Sometimes symptoms of depression can be deceiving, as experiencing depression doesn’t always mean that you feel sad all of the time.

Symptoms may include:

  •      Low energy
  •      Feeling hopeless
  •      Feeling overwhelmed
  •      Feeling flat or low motivation
  •      Excessive sleep
  •      Low appetite
  •      Lack of engagement
  •      Lack of interest in social or family events

What Can We Do as Naturopathic Doctors to Help Treat Depression?

At Roots to Branches Whole Health Clinic, we look at each patient with an individual lens because we are all different and no two people experience depression in the exact same way.  As Naturopathic Doctor’s we try to understand and identify the root cause of your experience of depression and we create a custom treatment plan based on your individual health history.  We want to help you feel like your most energized, joyous, and healthiest version of yourself.

Our Top 5 Naturopathic Approaches to Addressing the Root Cause of Depression, include:

  1. Creating blood sugar balance.  This is an under appreciated cause of feeling low. Having high or low blood sugar can lead to a range of symptoms.  As a basic start, making sure each meal and snack has quality protein, good fat and lots of fiber can be impactful. If this feels overwhelming, begin with breakfast and make sure you’ve got all three present. Often, we can feel the effects of low blood sugar before we feel hunger. The best plan is to prevent these lows by eating enough, frequently enough and choosing nutrient dense choices.
  2. Assessing and addressing nutritional deficiencies.  Some common nutritional deficiencies can greatly affect mood. There is evidence linking insufficient vitamin D3, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and various B vitamins to low mood and depression. Assessing and correcting any suboptimal vitamins and minerals can be a big step, and over time, a whole foods based diet can support these levels and hopefully prevent a deficiency from occurring again.  
  3. Promoting sufficient rest and quality sleep.  We all know that sleep is important, but this is another under appreciated factor in supporting healthy mood and energy. Getting enough hours of deep, restful sleep can be tricky, and is often a focus with depression care, as we need sleep to increase coping skills, support energy and recover.  Even spending some time quietly can support mood, and part of a treatment plan may include supporting sleep quality and encouraging rest.
  4. Understanding Your Value System.  What are your personal priorities?  What is important to you?  For some people, understanding their individual values can be very helpful in addressing depression. Sometimes, we start with simply identifying values and build from there. This is important in creating a sustainable plan and helps with ‘sticking with it’ in the long term.
  5.  Creating space for joy and fun.  In our busy lives, joy sometimes gets placed lower on the priority list. What do you do to create and experience joy in your day to day? This can be an overwhelming question, especially when energy or motivation is low, but it is imperative to consider when optimizing mood.

There are many factors to consider in treating depression and mood concerns, and as mentioned above, it is individual to you. As Naturopathic Doctor’s we are trained to work safely in conjunction with pharmaceutical anti-depressant medications if that is part of your current treatment plan.  In addition, as we work on the underlying causes of depression, there are herbs and certain nutritional supplementation that can act as natural mood boosters. The important thing to remember is there is hope and there are options. You can feel like your bright self again!

If you are interested in a naturopathic approach to treating your mood, our Naturopathic Doctor’s, Tracy Palmer and Mollie Brennan are currently accepting new patients.  Phone 216-3000 or email for any questions or to book an appointment.

Stay tuned for further posts about using botanical medicine to support mood in the near future.


  1. Brinkman, R. (n.d.). Life by Design: Harnessing Values to Create Motivation in Your Patients. Retrieved from NDNR:
  2. Joseph E. Pizzorno, M. T. (1999). Textbook of Natural Medicine 2nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone.
  3. Marz, D. R. (1997). Medical Nutrition from Marz. Portland, OR: Omni-Press.
  4. Sue Penckofer, J. K. (2010). Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? Issues Mental Health Nursing , 31 (6), 385-393.