Depression refers to a condition that can affect a person’s behavior, sense of well being, thoughts and feelings. A depressed person suffers from low moods and there is an aversion for normal activity. Depressed people may feel sad, empty, guilty, worried, hopeless, restless, worthless or hurt. Depressed people find no pleasure in activities that once appealed to them; they have trouble relating to people around them, destroying interpersonal relations. Food is another thing with which they have problems, either overeating or refusing food to the point that they become malnourished. Both insomnia and excessive sleeping are linked to depression. A close watch has to be kept on depressed people as they often contemplate or attempt suicide as they consider their life worthless. Depression is not a psychiatric disorder. It may be triggered by normal events in life like menopause, a bereavement, financial difficulties, loss of a job and also natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones etc.
A Look At Herbal Remedies
Depression sufferers can take heart as no matter what the cause, there are several herbal remedies that mitigate the problem or even cure it fully. St. John’s Wort is the best known among them. This herb has been the subject of many extensive studies which have gone to show that positive results are seen from four to six weeks of administering the medication. This is possible with a dosage of 300mg three times a day. It is possible to grow St. John’s Wort in pots or in private gardens and harvest the leaves to make an infusion. St. John’s Wort is largely side effect free, but there are instances where other adjunct medication has metabolized through the body rapidly changing their effectiveness.
Typical anti-depressant medications work by preventing the re-uptake of serotonin. St. John’s Wort works in a completely different pathway by controlling certain substances released by the white blood cells that control moods by communicating directly with the brain. Under their influence, mood swings occur but St. John’s Wort is able to control their wild oscillations. St. John’s Wort may not be effective in extreme cases of depression but is of immense use when depression is of a milder nature. Controlled studies have shown that this herb has more positive results compared to placebos. Unlike regular ant-depressants, St. John’s Wort has fewer side effects.
Side Effects Of St. John’s Wort
There are cases where people with fair skin have reported photosensitivity on consuming St. John Wort in large doses. There are reports too of a red rash seen on Caucasians. While on this medication, it is prudent to avoid cheese, red wine, yeast and pickled herring. They have ingredients that react adversely with the chemicals In St. John’s Wort. Prescription anti-depressants and St. John’s Wort are also known to react adversely so these should not be taken in tandem. Though many pregnant women are said to have taken St. John’s Wort without incident, it is best avoided during pregnancy.
Vitamins To Keep The Brain Healthy
Do not neglect good nourishment while dealing with depression. Poor eating habits are part of the problem of depression. A good supply of nutrients is necessary for the brain to manufacture neurotransmitters. Vitamins B6 and folate are of particular importance. Sunflower seeds are a very good source of B6 along with vegetables like parsnips, beets, asparagus, citrus fruits and dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Tryptophan is an amino acid that promotes the synthesis in the brain of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin controls a sense of well being in people. Eat pumpkin seeds for a ready supply of tryptophan.
Lift That Mood
If you are looking for an adjunct therapy to combat depression, aromatherapy is an effective one. Aromatherapy works on the premise that fragrances set off positive feel good hormones in our brain reducing depressed feelings. The fragrances that are most commonly used are geranium, lavender, mint, angelica, rosemary, chamomile and juniper. These can be used as a scented lamp or a sachet filled with the herb can be slipped into a pillow. These oils can also be added to bath water or used for a massage. It brings about a sense of calm, reducing the agitation in the mind. Gingko Biloba is also used in depression treatment. This too boosts the production of neurotransmitters. Gingko has been used in the treatment of dementia in the elderly. A standardized extract is used in such cases. A tincture made of immature oats in its milky stage has also been found to be effective in controlling cravings related to addictions.
Brazil Nuts And Caffeine
The selenium found in Brazil nuts can keep depression at bay. When selenium levels fall, it triggers depression, anxiety and fatigue in people. Boosting selenium intake either through supplements or by consuming selenium rich foods brings about immediate improvement. Look for selenium rich foods like tuna, swordfish, sunflower seeds and oysters in supermarket shelves. Caffeine has got much bad press for sending anxiety level through the roof. Finally, there is some good news about caffeine. Had in moderation, some of the qualities of caffeine may come in handy to combat depression. Caffeine is a double edged sword. Individuals have to decide for themselves how much is right.
Garlic Is Good
Garlic is good for you as it lifts up your mood, reduces cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. It is a regular ingredient in many cuisines. Add couple of cloves of garlic into your cooking every day. Garlic can be added to stews and soups or to stir fries. Vitamin B6 is also a feel good ingredient. Eating chicken often can boost your B6 intake dramatically. Vegans should look for supplements or other foods. Chicken is very versatile meat. Folic acid too plays a part in controlling depression. When studies were conducted it was found those with depression had levels of folic acid that were lower when compared to the rest of the population. Look for vegetables and grains are rich in folic acid. Spinach is one such. Most dark green leafy vegetables will increase your folic acid intake. Also eat flaxseeds, soy products and fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids to ensure brain health.