She has had fairly serious depression and post-partum depression, particularly from 1993 (when our second child was born) to 2000. She took Zoloft during that time, and it had several negative side-effects, such as making her what we called "zombie-like".
We have had success controlling or eliminating several maladies by vitamins, herbs, homeopathy (see my article on that: Homeopathy, Pragmatic Medicine, Dogmatic Science, and Supposedly "Unscientific" Religion), or amino acids.
I did some research on the Internet a few years back on Zoloft and natural alternatives and discovered some very interesting information. The following amino acids all have to do with the brain and the areas of it which are related to depression and anxiety:
tyrosine (the best, if you choose one of these): 1500 mg/day
taurine: 1500 mg/day
GABA: 1500 mg/day
(also, glutamine has similar functions and effects, too)
Judy has taken these successfully without side effects for about three years now. It works. It replaced Zoloft. She feels great (and that is with four kids to take care of, at age 45, including a 2 year-old rambunctious little girl). St. John's Wort is also effective for many people. And another supplement called SAM-e is pretty effective as well (but expensive as heck, so we got rid of it). Note: all of these generally take six weeks or so to get into your system and really start working.
Every day, she also takes chamomile (1000 mg daily) and black cohosh (16oo mg daily), which is a "female herb." It is the leading supplement for menopause in Europe (my wife is starting that). For severe anxiety, she takes chasteberry tea. Judy has reported that she did fine over Christmas and the last few months, which usually cause her (like many women especially, it seems) to have some depression. These last three supplements were what we added in addition to the amino acids.
There is also a homeopathic sleeping pill that is good for anxiety. My mother (BIG worrier) and son (autistic) have had success with that. It's called Calms Forte by the brand name Hylands. I bought it last time at our local chain drugstore (Rite Aid). It includes passion flower, avena sativa, chamomile, and other ingredients. Valerian root is also a good sedative and natural sleeping pill but it smells and tastes like dirty socks. :-)
My wife and I both have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). That can cause depression itself (among many other symptoms; notably, headaches). If someone suspects that they have that (millions do without even being aware of it), it is crucial to start reducing or eliminating white sugar and white flour, and taking a time-released B-100 complex with all 11 B vitamins. Also, chromium (200 mcg daily) is essential for blood sugar metabolism. Niacin, one of the B vitamins, is good for depression, as is Calcium-Magnesium (everyone should take a 1000-500 mg combination every day).
Protein is also most beneficial. And exercise. I personally believe that all but the most extremely serious depression and anxiety can be reasonably controlled or eliminated by supplements such as these above, natural food diet, and exercise. My wife proves that (at one point her post-partum depression was so serious she was near-suicidal. I wasn't even aware at the time HOW serious it was, but it was a very stressful period, in any event).
My mother was on ten drugs at once and was falsely diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She was a basket case a year ago: could hardly walk and was hallucinating (!). She looked and acted like your typical (drugged-up) elderly person in a nursing home (that's another huge scandal -- the "walking dead" -- that can largely be avoided).
I did Internet research from medical and pharmacological sites and consulted a nurse-friend. It turns out that there were all sorts of negative drug interactions taking place: to such an extent that we could have sued for malpractice. The anti-depressant Paxil (the doctor prescribed an almost ridiculously high dosage) was actually causing many of the symptoms (shaking, etc.).
My mother is vastly better now, and seems like she was 15-20 years ago. No shaking; no great trouble walking. We decided to be "nice" to her two doctors (honey rather than vinegar), and convinced them both that she was better off without all the drugs. Her diagnosis was reversed. Now she is fine without even taking any anti-depressant drug. Last I heard, she was taking only the homeopathic sleeping pill (see above) for occasional anxiety.
I hope this is helpful. I felt duty-bound to share what my wife and I have learned (and from my experience with my mother). These remedies are relatively inexpensive, they work, they get right to the cause of the problem, and they have few (if any) side effects. And it is always good not to use a drug if you don't have to. I figured out much of this simply from Internet research and my general knowledge of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and natural foods, from 20 years' experience. This is partly why I look so young (that's what I'm told). :-)
If anyone would like to further explore this, I would be happy to discuss it on this blog and give you more details, tell you how to buy the supplements cheaply (I go to a chain store called Vitamin Outlet), etc.
In severe cases, however (the obligatory disclaimer), these things may not work, and some drug might be necessary. If your doctor advocates natural remedies at all, it would be good to check with him or her. More and more doctors are not averse to natural medicines, because they have been so effective and it is hard to argue with success.
They have also softened a bit on their traditional antipathy to chiropractic. It gets old after a while trying to deny that a person no longer has a sore back or neck or piched nerve when their firsthand experience is otherwise. And patients get sick of hearing that they really aren't better when they are. Doctors serve us. We're not they're servants. If they don't care if their patient feels better because of some remedy outside of themselves, it's time to vote with our feet and find another doctor.
No need to suffer needlessly. Life is too short . . .