This pretty yellow flowering plant St John's Wort has a long history of traditional use with depression.
According to the World Health Organization, 'depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.'
In fact anyone can suffer from depression at some point in their life and it can be triggered by an almost infinite variety of factors. For some it is a difficult phase that comes and goes and for others it is an ongoing battle that needs constant fighting.
Tolstoy once wrote "All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way" and this is also true on an individual level. For this reason there will never be a panacea for sufferers of depression. On the other hand, there are a wide variety of effective strategies, including herbal anti depressants, for coping with depression, providing both short and medium term relief. And there are also a large number of powerful therapies and personal development paths that can be effective in delivering long term change. The trick is to find what works in your situation.
Anti Depressants, Nutrition & Other Strategies
In fairly recent times, western understanding of how our brains work has led to the development of various anti depressant and psychiatric drugs. In the last two decades anti depressant drugs have become a huge commercial success, largely because of the enormous budgets drug companies have spent marketing them, rather than the efficacies of the drugs themselves in delivering long term change. But there are also a number of herbal anti depressants, (famously St Johns Wort) that have been traditionally used in this way for many years. Finding quick relief from symptoms may not sound very holistic, but it is a valid strategy for dealing with depression as It can create the relief needed or 'take the edge off' the symptoms, enabling the sufferer to address underlying causes.
Our hormones also have a huge effect on our mental health. Women particularly can suffer as a result of the monthly cycle (PMT or PMS). Therefore herbs or superfoods that contain phytoestrogens or phyto-progesterone, like Maca
can really help.
It is now widely accepted that nutrition plays a key role in how quickly depression comes on, how severe it is and how long it lasts. It will even effect daily mood swings. In nutrition however we find opposing opinions. Something that may be right for one person may not be for another.
As a general rule, eating alkalising foods like wheatgrass
or barley grass
, high omega 3 foods like Acai and plenty of dietary fibre will ensure you have a healthy system with good elimination. This will always help maintain a positive mental outlook. Also sporadic eating can worsen depression considerably. Instead eat often (three square meals a day), especially breakfast.
Eat whole grain carbohydrates and lean sources of protein like spirulina
several times a day. Also drink lots of water, at least 1.5 litres a day. Make sure you maintain a well-balanced diet with lots of greens and as many high nutrition superfoods as you like every day. But don't allow dietary aspirations to become a blockage to eating. Often eating anything is better than eating nothing at all.
And at this point it's worth noting that certain diet and lifestyle combinations can cause the body to be overrun by candida, a type of yeast that occurs naturally in the body. This condition (candidiasis) shares many symptoms with depression (loss of energy, loss of libido, tiredness etc.) and is increasingly believed to be a potential cause of or at least a major factor in depression. Sticking to an anti-candida diet and taking cleansing and immune stimulating herbal teas can help combat candida and releive some of these symptoms. Also candidiasis sufferers should avoid sugars and fermented yeasty foods like bread, beer and wine.
Change in Lifestyle
There are also many lifestyle options that will undoubtedly help alleviate depression. These include identifying and avoiding triggering situations, keeping busy with fun activities and nurturing friendships. Getting enough sleep is also vital so avoiding stimulants in the evenings, getting regular early nights and taking sleepy herbal teas can help. On the other hand getting enough exercise, fresh air and sunshine is also important and taking stimulating herbs in the morning to get the system going can be an effective habit for many people. Stimulants can also provide the drive you may need to get you to the gymn, swimming pool or yoga mat.
For many of us, the underlying causes of depression are most probably to be found in our formative experiences and complete healing is likely to depend on deep psychological changes not just taking herbal anti depressants. Talking therapies are one of the most effective ways of tackling these sorts of issues. And if you can't afford the services of a trained psychoanalyst you could try contacting your local co-counselling group. Body-works like massage, shiatsu, acupuncture or cranio-sacral therapy (to name but a few) can also be of enormous assistance here.
Further progress in this area can also be achieved through dedicated personal development or spiritual practices and it is for each of us to chart our own path towards happiness.
Despite it's common occurence and wide range of potential avenues for relief and healing, sufferers of depression, like other mental health conditions, often don't find the solutions they need. In addition it can be very difficult for those close to someone with depression to realize what is going on and respond in an appropriate way. As a result help is not always sought, and solutions not always forthcoming. But with a little research, experimentation and possibly some professional help anyone, and this includes you, can rise to the challenges that your life is presenting you and become whole.
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