is a feeling of intense sadness that persists for a long period of time
(more than a month). After anxiety, depression is the most common
psychiatric disorder. Women are twice as likely to experience
depression than men although the reasons are not clear.
can be caused by emotionally upsetting events, especially those involving
a loss. It also tends to run in a family (heredity). Certain
drugs and medical conditions can cause depression directly by affecting
hormone levels or indirectly by having a negative impact on the quality of
two major classifications of depression, the unipolar and bipolar
depression. Unipolar depression is depressive disorders recurring in
a person's lifetime. Bipolar depression is also called maniac depression
with alternate symptoms of maniac and depression. A very common type
of depression is called dysthymia. It is a low-grade depression
recurring over a long time. The depressive symptoms may not be
disabling but can affect a person's enjoyment of life and social activity.
Seasonal affective depression (SAD) is also a common type of depression.
Some people become more depressed in the winter when the days are shorter
of neurotransmitters in the brain are extremely important in controlling
depression. These substances carry impulses between nerve cells.
Low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin can lead to depression
and anxiety. Other substances such as norepinephrine and dopamine
are also involved.
of depressions include: feeling of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt;
recurrent thoughts of suicide; poor appetite or increased appetite;
insomnia or hypersomnia, poor sleeping quality; being hyperactive or
inactive; loss of interest in usual activities; decrease in sex drive;
loss of energy and feeling of fatigue, inability to think and concentrate.
is often treated with drugs, such as selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase
inhibitors (MAO inhibitors), sedatives, etc. They all have mild to
severe side effects including agitation, anxiety, insomnia, tremors,
headaches, nausea, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, drowsiness, weight gain,
low blood pressure. Depression can also be treated with
psychotherapy with or without drugs. Cognitive therapy can help
change a person's hopeless and negative thinking. Both group or individual
therapy can help a person gradually resume normal activity.
activity, consumption of high protein and complex carbohydrates help to
increase the levels of certain hormones and neurotransmitters, and
therefore, may help to relieve depressive symptoms. A person should
seek medical diagnosis immediately if there are recurrent thoughts of
suicide and the feelings of intense sadness last for several weeks or
dietary supplements for depression:
St. John's Wort
Scientific studies have shown that St John's
Wort is effective for mild to moderate depression. It works as well
as prescription drugs but has fewer side effects. The active
compounds are hypericin, its derivative hyperforin and several flavonoids.
St John's Wort extract is a weak inhibitor of monoamine oxidase (enzyme
that breaks down some neurotransmitters) and it also inhibits the uptake
of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, thus
maintaining a normal level of neurotransmitters in the brain areas.
St John's Wort may cause hypersensitivity and it should not be used with
other antidepressant drugs.
5-HTP (5-hydroxy L-tryptophan)
5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin and
melatonin. It increases the production of serotonin and thus
improves depression symptoms. Do not use if you have maniac
depression or bipolar depression or if you are taking other
SAMe is an agent that donates methyl groups to
other compounds in the brain. Methyl group deficiency is associated
with depression. SAMe also increases the action of several
neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.
Lavender is a gentle relaxing herb. It
has nourishing effect on the nervous system. Lavender essential oil
is used externally or inhaled to improve the mood. Lavender tea
and tincture can be taken to ease depression.
Another herb that has relaxing and nourishing
effect on the nervous system. Herbalists consider it more helpful
when depression is caused by chronic illnesses. It is also said to
heal liver damage.
Ginkgo is usually used to treat memory
problems. It is most effective if used in the elderly who suffer
from age-related decreases in the receptors of serotonin.
Multivitamin and mineral
Nutrient balance is essential for normal
function of the nervous system. Deficiency in certain vitamins and
minerals is associated with depression.
Kira, St. John's Wort
Now Foods, 5-HTP
Doctor's Best, Double-Strength SAM-e 400
(use code "WAN045" - get $5 off your first order)