Major depression is more than a case of the blues; major depression is a serious, debilitating illness that is now the number one cause of disability in the United States for those aged between 15 and 44 years old (source: National Institute of Mental Health).
During the long, dark days of winter in the northern hemisphere, many people develop depression. Although prescription medication is often recommended for depression, there are some natural remedies suitable for depression. Consult your medical practitioner on the suitability of a particular natural remedy if you are currently taking a prescribed medication.
Definition of Depression
Depression, which is also referred to as major depression, is a chronic illness that affects both the body and the mind. People with depression have difficulty managing day-to-day activities and simple tasks can seem insurmountable at times. Although there isn’t a definitive cause of depression, it is thought that hormones, family history, life events, trauma, stress and a difference in brain chemicals may determine the development of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
There are many symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of sadness
- feelings of worthlessness
- the desire to sleep all of the time
- difficulty making decisions
- difficulty concentrating
- suicidal thoughts
- lack of interest in daily activities
- loss of interest in sex
St Johns Wort for Depression
St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a small, perennial herb that is often recommended for depression. Although not endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, St Johns Wort is a common treatment of depression in the UK and Europe. However, it can interact with several types of prescribed medication, so consult a medical practitioner before using it if you are taking any form of prescribed medication.
Ginkgo Biloba for Depression
Extract of Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba) is also recommended for the treatment of depression. Ginkgo is actually extracted from the leaves of one of the oldest living tree species. Ginkgo contains two active chemical components, terpenoids and flavinoids, that are of medicinal value. Both are anti-oxidants. Some clinical studies have shown that Ginkgo is effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and lowers depression.
Aromatherapy for Depression
Aromatherapy is a complementary health therapy that uses natural essential oils extracted from plants to treat various health problems. Essential oils are made up of complex chemical components and each essential oil is used for varying problems. It also depends on the level and type of depression that you are experiencing as to how effective aromatherapy is in treating your symptoms.
For general symptoms of depression, essential oils such as frankincense (Boswellia carteri), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) may help. There are many other essential oils that maybe suitable for specific symptoms of depression, such as agitation, fatigue and headaches; consult a qualified aromatherapist for further information and advice on how to administer essential oils.
Other Types of Natural Remedies for Depression
Other types of natural remedies that may help in the treatment of depression include flower essences, massage and reflexology. Although, in some instances, there is little scientific research to support the use of a particular remedy for the treatment of depression, many individual complementary health practitioners have experienced various degrees of success in treating depression with natural remedies.
Treatment of Depression With Natural Remedies
14.8 million adults suffer from depression in the United States; more women than men develop depression (source: National Institute of Mental Health). However, depression can hit at any time and, without treatment, can significantly impair your quality of life. Natural remedies for depression can form the first step to improving and controlling your symptoms of depression. Just remember to check with your medical practitioner on any possible interactions between a natural remedy and a prescribed medication before taking them.
- Balch, James F and Balch, Phyllis A, 1997 Prescription for Nutritional Healing US: Avery
- University of Maryland Medical Center website: Ginkgo Biloba
- National Institute of Mental Health website: Mental Disorders in America
- Mayo Clinic website: Depression
- Price, Shirley and Price, Len, 2002, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals UK: Churchill Livingstone
- Price, Len, 1999 Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage UK: Riverhead
Photo by Michael H. Lemmer