Depression has many underlying causes. Personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, bottled up anger that is turned inward, bitterness, negative emotional behavior, often learned as a child, a biochemical imbalance, and certain prescription drugs can cause depression. Other causes include sugar imbalances, food allergies, high copper levels, hypothyroidism, and prolonged stress. If left untreated depression may develop into paranoia or another manic depressive disorder. Severe depression with thoughts of suicide requires professional help. Call the National Suicide Hotline for more information.
St. John's Wort is considered by many herbalists to be nature's nerve pill. St. John's Wort helps the body deal with stress by activating secretions of dopamine, the pleasure hormone.
Oats also show promising results. Take oat extract 3 times a day, drink oak straw tea, and eat oatmeal as a cereal. Borage, lemon balm, bee balm, and basil are also recommended. They can be added to salads or made into tea. Other herbs to try include ginseng, ginkgo biloba, milk thistle seed, rosemary, and mint.
Waking very early, sleeping longer than usual, over eating, under eating, increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, other self destructive behaviors, social withdrawal, negative thinking, difficulty concentrating, irritability, poor digestion with constipation, and loss of sex drive are a few of the most common symptoms of depression. Other symptoms may be less obvious such as manic episodes, excessive self reproach, guilt, disorientation, memory loss, headache, sweating, palpitations, weight loss, weight gain, and thoughts of death or suicide. * If you have thoughts of hurting yourself, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
One type of depression is the “winter blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder and is due to insufficient light. Many body functions fail to work properly causing abnormal sleep patterns, anxiety, and moods swings. Bright light treatments usually solve this problem. One other reminder -- insufficient sunlight can cause vitamin D deficiency. This should be checked by a healthcare professional before taking supplements since too much vitamin D can be harmful.
Essential oils and aromatherapy are especially suited for treating depression. Jasmine essential oil, ylang-ylang essential oil, neroli essential oil, and bergamot essential oils are refreshing and especially suited for lifting dark moods. Lavender essential oil is multi-purpose and helps bring relaxation or energy depending on need. A combination of basil essential oil and geranium essential oil or rose essential oil can provide uplifting effects. Clary sage essential oil and orange essential oil can also help. Use full strength in aromatherapy or mix with carrier oil for massage and bath.
Dandelion is a great herb for treating depression due to suppressed anger and disappointment. Put in one tablespoon of chopped root per cup of boiling water and steep for thirty minutes. Strain and sip 2 or 3 cups a day.
Depressed people should avoid cheese, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, and preserved foods. Adding pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and lecithin granules to the diet may help. The addition of Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, and potassium is also recommended.
Exercise is a great way to relieve depression. Sunlight, deep breathing, stretching, and massage can also give many benefits.
Mild cases of depression can be treated with an herbal pillow. Stuff a small pillow casing with freshly dried rosemary, lavender, California poppies, lemon balm, rose petals, and mint. Use in bed and while resting. Put a drop of lavender essential oil on the pillow for added strength.
Depression can sometimes be relieved by getting out and meeting new people. Find a church, take a class, attend community events, do some volunteer work, or find a help group. Make new friends and contact those people in your life that have fell to the wayside. Reach out for help! If you have friends and relatives that are depressed, visit with them or take them out for coffee. Little things can make a world of difference.
* Do not use essential oils in pregnancy without consulting a healthcare professional. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies especially if taking Prozac.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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