How To Treat Depression Naturally
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 31, 2010 by Paulina Nelega, RH
According to Mental Health America, clinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in America. In fact, it affects up to 19 million people.
Depression is not an illness to be taken lightly – it can cause sufferers to lose pleasure from daily life, cause and complicate other medical conditions, and even lead to death. All people are susceptible at any age – including tiny children!
Symptoms Of Depression
There are many symptoms that point to depression. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, you’ll want to talk to your health care professional right away. Symptoms can include:
– Sad, anxious, sense of impending doom, self-worthless feeling
– Change in sleeping patterns, inability or over-ability to sleep
– Change in eating habits
– Change in sexual habits
– Loss of interest in normal activities
– Chronic pain, digestive disorders
– Thoughts of suicide or death
What Causes Depression?
Depression isn’t just an emotion, or a feeling of intense sadness. It actually involves physical changes in the brain, related to an imbalance of the chemicals – called “neurotransmitters” – that involve communication between the brain, and nerves.
What causes this imbalance isn’t completely known, but there are certain factors that can contribute to it.
Common Factors Involved In Depression
Trauma and Stress The stress of everyday living, like financial problems, or the shock of losing a loved one can bring on depression. Even major changes in life that may seem like happy events – marriage, school graduation, moving – can trigger stress, and therefore depression as well.
Family history Depression can be inherited through genetics, even over generations.
Negative Outlook Self-hatred and low self-esteem can contribute to a negative world view. This in turn can breed depression. On the flip side, low level depression, or dysthymia, can cause a negative outlook. This can become a vicious cycle.
Illness and Physical Weakness Illness can contribute to depression, by virtue of the pain and emotional strain associated with it. Some medications can also cause depression – a negative side-effect.
Disorders Some personality disorders, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse all can contribute to depression.
Approximately 80% of all depressive cases can be treated and cured. Most common prescriptions include anti-depressant medication, but these can be dangerous.
Conventional VS Natural Treatments
Conventional therapies include anti-depressant medication, like Dothiepin, Amitriptyline and Imiprimine. Other therapies can include psychotherapy. Unfortunately, most anti-depressants can cause major side effects, including the symptoms they are trying to treat. In addition, they can be toxic in overdose.
Typical Side Effects
Inability to achieve an erection
Inability to achieve an orgasm (men and women)
Loss of libido
Sedation (can interfere with driving or operating machinery)
Depression has been a human condition since recorded history. Native herbs have been used and prescribed in all systems of medicine, from China to India, Greece to South America. These natural herbs have been valued for their ability to elevate ones mood, enhance immunity, and increase longevity.
Natural Herbs And Supplements For Depression
St. John’s Wort – St. John’s Wort has been used for thousands of years, since the time of the ancient Greeks. European folk medicine records show its use in treating depression as well as skin burns. In North America, St. John’s Wort is most commonly taken to manage stress and anxiety, and strengthen immunity. It has undergone rigorous studies, and results published in various peer-reviewed publications show it to be as effective as its conventional counterparts in treating depression. St. John’s Wort contains Hypericum extract which is responsible for the uplifting and encouraging effects.
Maca – is a plant root, with origins high in the Andes mountains. It has been used for centuries since the Inca, mostly to increase energy, sex drive and stamina (its effects have been compared to Viagra!). Unlike many stimulants, though, it has no caffeine and therefore no buzz. It’s nutritional content has been found to stimulate adrenal function, regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary gland, and balance female and male hormones. Hence, it has a unique ability to decrease depression.
Omega Fatty Acids – Omega 3, 6 and 9 groups of fatty acids all contain “essential” fatty acids necessary for good health. The human body needs these healthy fatty acids from a dietary source, since they are not produced within the body; a deficiency can cause a wide range of ailments, from low concentration to depression. In the body, essential fatty acids are primarily used to produce hormone-like substances that regulate a wide range of functions, including blood pressure, blood clotting, blood lipid levels, the immune response, and the inflammation response to injury infection. Together, Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids work together to affect the production of hormonal type messengers called eicosanoids, which has an impact on inflammation in the body and all functions at a cellular level. They reduce inflammation and can provide protection against depression.
With conventional treatment, up to 80% of all depressive cases can be cured. Natu
ral treatments can be just as effective, and are available in capsule, tincture, and powder form. A positive outlook is possible!
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan