It's often difficult to differentiate between sadness and depression.
Each has certain qualities that frequently overlap; yet both can impact
our lives dramatically. Sadness can range from a simple momentary
unhappiness to a long-term grief or sorrow. Depression is defined as
gloominess or dejection, either of which can be debilitating. With the
realization or diagnosis of either sadness or depression, there is a
tendency for physicians to quickly follow with a prescription for
anti-depressant medications to mask and suppress negative feelings. I
wouldn't say this is necessarily a good thing, as failing to address the
true cause only prolongs rather than alleviates the problem.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to consider, such as mild exercise
and more light. One can take a walk in the evening after dinner during the
longer days of summer. In the winter months, better lighting in the house
and walking around a mall or other large structure would help alleviate
the lack of specific brain chemicals relating to depression. I will talk
more about that later.
First we should define the typical symptoms of depression. This can
assist in evaluating whether or not depression is even an issue. There are
four key areas to consider: behavior, appearance, feelings and
communication. With respect to behavior, we generally look for changes in
"normal" behavior patterns. A person may show disinterest in
their usual surroundings or neglect to perform regular chores. Signs that
a change in usual patterns is occurring are when there seems to be a
greater desire to be alone; the person is sleeping more than usual; or
they become forgetful about special hobbies. A loss of appetite is also an
important sign. This isn't to say that other factors would not be
considered, but given the following additional symptoms, depression would
be a primary diagnosis.
Appearance is something that is difficult to hide. As caretaker, you
should pay attention to uncombed hair, dirty clothes, facial expressions,
unusual quietness, skin tone or gestures. Concealing one’s feelings may
be easier for some than others, but obvious feelings may be more apparent.
Look for recent signs of grief from the loss of a loved one or pet or a
sense of hopelessness with unusual anger and impatience. Also look for new
or unusual reactions such as self-blame or ongoing criticism of friends
Finally, pay attention to the words being used. There are words and
phrases that are reflective of suicidal thoughts based on underlying
depression. The key is to be aware of unusual behavior or words and take
action before they reach a self destructive or suicidal stage. These can
include phrases like: "I wish I were dead", "What's the
point of living", "I have no joy in my life", "Things
will be better when I'm gone", or "They won't have me to kick
around much longer". As a preliminary response, you might consider
counseling or one of the following alternatives. Please bear in mind that
depression is difficult to self diagnose, but the feeling that
"something is not right", with a chronic desire to continually
sleep, should lead one to consider help.
Certain herbs have wonderful curative abilities relating to depression.
A few are discussed here:
St. Johns Wort is probably one of the most discussed and available
herbs around. It has nutrient value to the nerves and has quietly
provided an alternative to
Prozac as an antidepressant. Remember that when taking any
traditional drug or herbal compound, there can be unexpected side
effects. In this case, St. Johns
Wort can CAUSE anxiety as it increases levels of dopamine in the
brain, so avoid it if there is recurring anxiety.
Licorice Root tends to replenish the adrenals, allowing a more
relaxed state. This herb should not be used for those with
hypertension or high blood pressure.
Passion Flower is another calmative for the nerves, reducing anxiety
and high blood pressure while encouraging sleep.
Valerian assists with all types of mood problems, as well as nervous
tension, anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Scullcap is another adrenal herb, but also has been very effective
for nerves, high blood pressure, worry, restlessness and emotional
I recommend that these herbs be taken from liquid tinctures, 40 drops
once a day, after the evening meal. As with any type of herb, do not
overdo it. More is not necessarily better. If you notice improvement,
reduce the amount taken and find a maintenance dose. Try one at a time to
determine how each will work for you. Give it a week or so before adding
another herb. As these herbs are generally considered calmatives, they
tend to quiet nerves and may increase serotonin. Serotonin acts to
eliminate depression at higher levels in the brain.
Brain chemistry is another factor that plays a significant part in
depression. When levels of serotonin are low, many symptoms can result.
These can include insomnia, depression, low confidence, anger,
irritability, lack of emotional control, negativity, low energy and even a
greater desire to control others. Often, low levels of serotonin
correspond to either high levels of dopamine possibly causing anxiety,
worry, fear, increased heart rate, aggression and inability to focus
attention. High levels of acetylcholine may also be seen causing restless
sleep, poor confidence, insomnia, decreased listening skills and
Testing is available for evaluating brain chemistry and correcting the
underlying problem. Generally, a product called 5HTP can be helpful for
low serotonin levels, taken with B6 for absorption. Also consider SAMe,
inositol, Folic Acid and a multi B complex at 100mg or higher, twice
daily. Sometimes just a better diet can help achieve a healthful balance.
It can be helpful to have an increased intake of complex carbohydrates,
such as grains and pasta. It's best to maintain a balance between fats,
carbohydrates and protein, although with depression, protein excess may
deplete serotonin rather than increase it.
One of the most powerful, effective and curative means for
re-establishing balance and restoring health is a 200-year-old healing
modality called Homeopathy. My book, Homeopathic Vibrations provides a
glimpse into its basic components and can assist in understanding its
concepts and principles. There are specific Homeopathic remedies for
depression but rarely does a Classical Homeopath look to one symptom or
disharmony. Homeopathy addresses both the person and the disharmony
equally, so check with a Classical Homeopath or review the remedy in a
Materia Medica (a book explaining all the symptoms of each remedy) to see
how it relates to the totality of symptoms, not just the depression. A
couple of examples include Aurum and Sepia.
Aurum is a remedy used for depression, sadness, insecurity, anger,
self-reproach, suicidal thoughts, and fears of failure, worry, tension,
stress, bouts of depression from lack of sunlight and heart problems. A
potency of 30c should be sufficient to determine its value. Take once,
wait 4-5 days and then repeat only if no changes have occurred. Repeat
only once more and if there are still no changes, consider another remedy.
Sepia is a Homeopathic remedy that helps with bouts of depression from
loss of sunlight, but it can be differentiated from Aurum by its grief,
fatigue, sarcasm and irritability aspects. The individual needing Sepia
can be indifferent, weepy, angry, overwhelmed and exhausted.
There are many additional remedies that may be of value, based on the
totality of the person and their combined symptoms rather than singular
symptoms such as depression. If none of the above Homeopathics seems to be
appropriate for your circumstances, put some light in your life and see a
Homeopath. There is a good chance that you can get through your depression
without drugs or their side effects. Of course, if you are on medication,
do not discontinue without proper supervision.
All of these herbs, supplements and Homeopathic remedies can be used in
conjunction with medications, generally, without causing any harm. But
remember; stop dosing if an aggravation occurs, as there is no need to
over stimulate depression. Once triggered the body finds its own way of
rediscovering balance, even on the emotional level.
to our weekly e-newsletter