With the Autumn and Winter coming, when there is less light and more darkness outside, it is easier for us to fall into darkness ourselves. Short-lived sadness is something normal and everybody has periods of reoccurring happiness and sadness – this is just the way our lives go. But sometimes the sadness can overpower us and we feel defenceless in its grip. Short-term depression is a natural response to many things: death in the family, loss of a job, marriage or relationship issues, traumatic situations that our lives are full of. But this short-term depression can very easily transform into depressive disorders, which are prolonged forms of depression. We can help ourselves to overcome the sadness and transform it into happiness. The most important thing to remember is: When you feel in the grip of depression – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are people going through the same difficulties every day, and there is help available.
First thing, the most important and sometimes the most difficult, FIND SOMEBODY TO TALK TO. A sympathetic listener can bring an enormous relief, talk to a friend, a family member, and find a councillor. The counselling is the most important step towards helping yourself in understanding the reasons behind the sadness and feeling of worthlessness and in finding the solutions that will help you overcome those problems.
There is also self-help available. You are a strong and amazing person (every one of us really is) and we can try to make ourselves better.
The first thing to do is to look at your diet and buy yourself supplements that are useful and helpful in fighting depression. You can buy them combined as a multi-vitamin, just check for the presence of:
- Vitamin B complex plus – which is essential for the functioning of the entire nervous system
- Vitamin B3, B5, B6, B12 – they promote a good sleeping pattern and energy production (B3), protects from stress (B5), they are also all (especially B12) known as energisers.
- Vitamin C.
- Calcium – has a calming effect on the nervous system.
- Magnesium – works with calcium, very good for the brain and spinal cord, helps fight fatigue.
- Zinc – deficiency leads to depression.
- Folic acid.
- Biotin – aids in utilisation of B-complex vitamins.
- Herbal Medicine.
- Zero Balancing.
- Chamomile 2 x per day (can be used by pregnant women)
- Ginger (add ginger to cooking, you can put it on pizza or add to sauces or pasta – it has quite a distinctive and warming taste, so may take time to get used to, but it is really helpful).
- Celery is a great vegetable to help with depression.
- Peppermint (at least once a day in the tea form).
- St. John’s Wort as a tincture OR Valerian as a tincture. Tincture usually can be taken 3-4 times a day, but Valerian I would recommend only once before you will go to bed, because sometimes it can make you sleepy. You can buy it in Neal’s Yard Remedies and you will have dosage on the bottle. (DON’T TAKE THEM TOGETHER – only one OR the other. Also check with your GP if you are on antidepressants, because very often the use of them together is contradictory. St John’s Wort can reduce the effect of some of the drugs used to treat cardiac and circulatory disorders and has also been known to interfere with the contraceptive pill, do not take when pregnant or breastfeeding. Valerian – do not take when pregnant or breastfeeding, it should never be used at the same time as other drugs that have a sedative effect, do not drive or engage in any activity where lack of concentration could be dangerous).
Finding a herbal practitioner is the best way to have the treatment tailored to your own needs.
(You can buy them in Neal’s Yard Remedies, Revital, Holland & Barrett, or on line) choose one or two that you find the most comforting. Do not use essential oils on your skin undiluted – always dilute in the base oil first!
- Bergamot – anti-depressant and gentle relaxant. Use as a body or bath oil (you can put a few drops into the bath straight from the bottle, depending on the strength of smell that you would like to have).
- Basil – nerve tonic which clarifies the mind. Use as a body, bath oil or in a burner.
- Clary Sage – relaxant which helps insomnia, anxiety and depression. Use as a body or bath oil.
- Frankincense – eases anxiety and nervousness. Use as bath, body oil or in a burner.
- Lavender – soothes nerves, helps insomnia, and relaxes aches and pains. Use as body, bath or in a burner.
- Sandalwood – eases anxiety and nervous tension and has a potent calming effect on the nerves and the stomach. Use as bath or body oil or in a burner.
DIET AND LIFESTYLE:
- Lots of raw fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, soya beans and soya products (e.g. soya milk), brown rice, millet, green leafy vegetables (for their folic acid)
- Foods that contain tryptophan: chicken, turkey, fish, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, dates, bananas, figs, grapefruit, oranges, papaya, peach, pears, pineapple, strawberry and tomato.
- Garlic, onions, hot chilli.
- Peppers, honey and liquorice.
- Avoid sugar, red meat, fried foods, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods.
- Try exercise in the sun and fresh air – walking, jogging.
- Keep your mind occupied with creative thoughts and get plenty of rest.
- Find a good counsellor and a support group so that you can express your feelings without denying them and expose your negative thinking and behavioural patterns and let them go.
- R. Gladstar, Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal recipes for vibrant health, Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA c2008.
- P. Bedson, The complete family guide to natural healing, Hinkler Books, Dingley VIC 2005.