Herbal Treatment of Depression
Depression is a disorder marked particularly by sadness, inactivity, and difficulty with thinking and concentration. A noteworthy increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection, and desperateness. And sometimes very serious suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide.
Depression is a state of mind familiar to almost everyone in one form or another. In ordinary usage, the word mentions a mood state that in medicine is called dysthymia. And in contrast with the normal state of euthymia and the opposite state, elation.
In psychiatric usage, disorders of mood are called affective disorders. Depression is either a disorder or can be a symptom of another disorder, either mental or physical. Normal human responses to some situations may include transient depression. But in medicine, these transient states are distinguished from the condition known as clinical depression.
Major depression occurs in 10% to 20% of the world’s population in the course of a lifetime. Women are more often affected than men are, by a 2:1 ratio, and they seem to be at particular risk just before menstruation or immediately after childbirth. Relatives of people with major depression also seem to be at higher risk of developing depression, and about 2% of the population may have a chronic disorder known as depressive personality.
The Herbal Alternatives to Prozac.” most of the talk challenges the assumptions underlying the title! By phrasing the topic in this way, we are forced to respond to the underlying issue in terms of the efficacy of Prozac for depression, rather than by highlighting the strengths of phototherapy when used in a holistic context.
In short, comparing the efficacy of herbs and Prozac begs the fundamental question about the underlying cause of depression. When it comes to the clinical use of herbs in major depressive illness, to make it clear that she does not believe there is an herbal alternative. For most people with less severe depression, however, herbal alternatives will be discussed below.
That would also suggest that depression may be a rational and sane response to our society’s initial manifestation of 21st-century culture! As such, is a chemical “smiley face,” whether synthetic or botanical, an ethical response? We don’t suppress the inflammatory response simply because it occurs, so why suppress the emotions that accompany depression?
Depression can represent an opportunity for self-exploration for the patient, and many lessons may be learned. Of course, this will entail a great challenge for both the patient and the practitioner. Depression is defined by a standard set of symptoms described in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM):
A mediocre appetite and noteworthy weight loss, or improved appetite and significant weight gain
Insomnia or increased sleep
Agitation or retardation of movement and thought
Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, and decrease in sexual drive
Loss of energy and fatigue
Self-reproach and feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
Decrease inability to think or concentrate; indecisiveness
Negative thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Not all these characteristics will occur in everyone who becomes depressed. For determinations of psychiatric treatment, a person is considered to have experienced a foremost depressive episode. If he or she shows a loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all normal activities. That shows at least four of the above symptoms almost every day for a period of at least two weeks.
The term depression is frequently modified by words that simply either some precise factor or some chemical mechanism as the cause of the state. For example, depression which is considered a reaction to some loss of or separation from a valued person or thing is called reactive or exogenous depression.
In contrast, the usual, more severe form of depression without apparent cause is called endogenous depression. Melancholia, a term once used to designate all depressive states is now applied only to these most difficult forms of depression. Hence Herbal Treatment of Depression is a way to make your life better.
In terms of the herbal component of treatment protocols for depression, the nervous system must be the focus for toning. But associated symptoms may be a clue that more deep-seated issues have begun to manifest. Attention to the liver and the digestive system, in general, is usually a good idea.
- Nervine tonics are fundamental to any long-term change in the individual’s ability to cope and transform what must be changed.
- Nervine relaxants may be indicated in the short term, or if the depression has an agitated or hyperactive aspect. These should not be strong herbs, which could trigger a more entrenched depression.
- Nervine stimulants might help, but not predictably. If the therapist concludes that stimulation is appropriate, it is better to use bitter metabolic stimulants.
- Bitters often bring about dramatic changes in patient’s perceptions of themselves and of their lives. This highlights the need for a holistic perspective in such conditions.
- Antispasmodics will alleviate muscular tension that might manifest as a bodily expression of psychological depression. Care should be taken not to use strong relaxants.
- Adaptogens support the adrenals in coping with the stress that the whole body is experiencing.
- Hepatics are indicated to support the liver’s detoxification work, especially if the patient has been using prescription psychotropic drugs.
As far as this is concerned, there are no clear-cut specifics for depression. Hypericum perforatum. It has a long tradition of use in Europe, and while it sometimes achieves remarkable results, it also sometimes does nothing. This herb requires time to work, and so must be taken for at least a month.
Of numerous clinical trials performed to investigate the antidepressant effects of St. John’s wort extract, a double-blind clinical trial conducted in 1993 concluded that 67% of patients experienced a positive improvement after four weeks of therapy. The study involved 105 outpatients with depressions of short duration who received either 300 mg of St. John’s wort extract three times a day or placebo three times a day.
A Prescription for Moderate Depression
Hypericum perforatum 2 parts
Avena sativa 1 part
Artemisia vulgaris 1 part
Dosage: up to 5 ml of tincture three times a day for at least 1-month.
Actions Supplied by Prescription for Depression
Nervine tonic – Hypericum perforatum, Avena sativa
Nervine relaxant Hypericum perforatum, Avena sativa, Artemisia vulgaris
Bitter Artemisia vulgaris
Broader Context of Treatment
The whole gamut of issues touched upon from green salads to relaxation, spinal adjustments to changing the music one listens to—the list of factors to consider is endless. Exercise is especially important.
In the Textbook of Natural Medicine, Drs. Pizzorno and Murray suggest the following nutritional supplements:4 B vitamin complex: 50 times the recommended daily dose each day Vitamin C: 1 g three times daily Folic acid: 400 mg/day Vitamin Bu: 250 meg/day Magnesium: 500 mg/day.
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