Saturday, 27 October 2012

Natural Treatment for "The Blues"

“I speak of a clinical depression that is the background of your entire life,
a background of anguish and anxiety,
a sense that nothing goes well,
that pleasure is unavailable and all your strategies collapse”
Leonard Cohen

Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.   
Depression is different from feeling down or sad.  Unhappiness is something which everyone feels at one time or another, usually due to a particular cause.  A person suffering from depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away.
Depression can happen to anyone.  Many successful and famous people who seem to have everything going for them battle with this problem.  Depression also affects people of every age.  Living with depression is difficult for those who suffer from it and for their family, friends, and colleagues. It can be difficult to know if you are depressed and what you can do about it.

Signs and symptoms of depression
·         Tiredness and loss of energy.
·         Sadness that doesn’t go away. 
·         Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem. 
·         Difficulty concentrating. 
·         Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting. 
·         Feeling anxious all the time. 
·         Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends. 
·         Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. 
·         Sleeping problems
·         Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness. 
·         Finding it hard to function at work/college/school. 
·         Loss of appetite. 
·         Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems. 
·         Physical aches and pains.
·         Thinking about suicide and death. 
·         Self-harm.
If you experience four or more of these symptoms for most of the day - every day - for more than two weeks, you should seek help from your GP.
Types of depression
There are several types of depression, some of which are listed below:
·         Mild depression
Depression is described as mild when it has a limited negative effect on your daily life. For example, you may have difficulty concentrating at work or motivating yourself to do the things you normally enjoy.
·         Major depression
Major depression interferes with an individual’s daily life - with eating, sleeping and other everyday activities.  Some people may experience only one episode but it is more common to experience several episodes in a lifetime. It can lead to hospital admission, if the person is so unwell they are at risk of harm to themselves.
·         Bi-polar disorder
The mood swings in bi-polar disorder can be extreme - from highs, where the individual feels extremely elated and indestructible, to lows, where they may experience complete despair, lethargy and suicidal feelings.  Sometimes people have very severe symptoms where they cannot make sense of their world and do things that seem odd or illogical.
·         Post-natal depression
Many new mothers experience what are sometimes called 'baby blues' a few days after the birth.  These feelings of anxiety and lack of confidence are very distressing but in most cases last only a couple of weeks.  Post-natal depression is more intense and lasts longer. It can leave new mothers feeling completely overwhelmed, inadequate and unable to cope.  They may have problems sleeping, panic attacks or an intense fear of dying.  They may also experience negative feelings towards their child. It affects one in ten mothers and usually begins two to three weeks after the birth.
·         Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is associated with the start of winter and can last until spring when longer days bring more daylight.  When it is mild, it is sometimes called ‘winter blues’.  SAD can make the sufferer feel anxious, stressed and depressed.  It may interfere with their moods and with their sleeping and eating patterns.
Taking control of your depression
Depression often makes you feel helpless.  Taking action to make yourself feel more in control will have a positive effect, whether it’s going to see your GP for treatment, joining a gym, going for daily walks, or doing something that you are interested in or good at.  If you don’t feel up to starting something new or joining a local group on your own, ask a friend to come with you.  There are many things you can do to help manage your symptoms and a wide range of treatments, both medical and non-medical, available through your GP.
How you see yourself
The way you think about yourself will affect your frame of mind and feelings of depression. It is common to have feelings of worthlessness or guilt with depression.  Try to be aware of any negative thoughts you have about yourself and how they might be affecting how you see yourself and how you feel.  If you can, try to think about how realistic these thoughts are and how you might change them into something more positive.
Social networks
If you feel depressed it can be difficult to be sociable.  Loneliness may make you feel worse, so it’s important to keep in touch with friends and family.  Having people around you or groups that you are involved in will help to reduce feelings of isolation.  If you do not have many social networks you could find out about local community groups or befriending schemes from your local library or ask at your GP surgery.
Worries about work, money or a legal situation
Making sure that you do not feel overwhelmed by your work responsibilities is important because it gives you a sense of being in control.  It’s important to make time for yourself to do things you want to do or to be with friends and family. 
·         If you're struggling to cope with work pressures and you have access to an occupational health department, you can speak to them about how you are feeling.  They may be able to help you to review your work commitments or address specific issues that are affecting your work.
·         If you are having financial difficulties, speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau about how you might get financial help.  Debt counseling provides free, confidential and independent advice for people with debt problems.
·         If you are out of work or want to change your job, your local job recruitment centres may offer support in finding work.
Where possible, you should always try to keep working.  This is because people with depression often find that having something meaningful to do and a reason to get up in the morning is very helpful.  Being with work colleagues, having a routine to the day, and the sense of achievement in getting a job done are all good for your mental health.
Close relationships
Problems with close personal relationships can have a devastating effect on how you feel about yourself and the world.  If you are struggling to cope with a difficult relationship or your depression is causing problems in your relationship you can contact a marriage counselor or you could speak to your GP about getting other forms of relationship counseling.
Physical activity
There is good evidence that exercise can lift your mood because it can take your mind off your depression as well as stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain.  Endorphins are neurotransmitters produced in the pituitary gland in the brain that produce feelings of happiness.
If you have mild or moderate depression your GP might recommend you to join an exercise referral scheme.  Ideally you should be aiming to take 50 minutes of exercise three to five times a week.  You can break this time down into shorter periods to fit it into your everyday life.
Some studies have suggested a link between what you eat and depression, but there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to say whether or not it can definitely make a difference.  There is some evidence that foods that are rich in some essential fatty acids found in oily fish, like mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, kippers and fresh tuna can help to relieve depression.  Whether there is a direct link or not, eating healthily will help you generally feel better and give you more energy, especially if you are also exercising.
Avoiding alcohol and drugs
Alcohol acts as a depressant on the brain.  If you are already suffering from depression, drinking alcohol can make you feel worse instead of better.  With such a vicious circle it is best to drink moderately, if at all.  Recreational drugs should also be avoided.
Managing anxiety
Around half of those people who experience depression will also experience anxiety.  Taking steps to manage your anxiety can help give you the mental space to begin to deal with your depression. Talking about what is making you anxious, as well as a healthy diet and exercising, will all help you to control your anxiety.  Some people, especially those with mild depression, find that relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga help them to manage their anxiety.
Complementary medicine
There is some evidence that St John’s Wort can help with mild to moderate depression.  However, this drug is known to interact with other substances so you need to get advice from a pharmacist or other health professional before taking it.

Hypericum perforatum

Available as:
Tablets with a standardized concentration of Hypericin

400 to 600mg dried extract, equivalent to 900 micrograms total Hypericin daily

There is evidence of interaction with some prescribed medication, specifically the blood clotting drug Warfarin.  It could also interact with drugs for HIV, organ transplants and epilepsy, with theophiline for asthma, some anti-depressants, tripitane for migraine and low-dose contraceptive pills.  It is best avoided during pregnancy and breast feeding.
Despite these suggestions, St John’s Wort is definitely safer than aspirin, paracetamol or other anti- inflammatory drugs.

What is it?
An upright perennial growing to around 1 metre (3 feet) high with attractive brilliant yellow flowers, St John’s Wort grows wild throughout Europe.  It flowers normally around St John’s Day, June 24th, which is how it gets its common name.
For centuries, St John’s Wort has been used in the treatment of chest infections, bladder problems, wound healing and as a gentle sedative.  Its modern use, however, is mainly for the treatment of mild to moderate depression.  Over 2 million people have tried it for this reason in the UK alone.  Even this is not a new treatment – the ancient Greeks called St John’s Wort the “sunshine herb” as it bought light back into the lives of depressed people.

What it does
St John’s Wort contains volatile oil, flavonoids and, most importantly, hypericin, which is not only an ANTI-DEPRESSANT but also has powerful ANTI-VIRAL properties.  Hypericin is found in all parts of the plant.  A recent analysis of 23 different clinical trials has shown beyond doubt that St John’s Wort is extremely effective in the relief of mild to moderate depression. 
Yet even mild depression can trigger a range of depressing symptoms that can all be helped by St John’s Wort such as:
Exhaustion and tiredness
Muscle pain
Repeated studies have proved that individuals suffering from mild to moderate depression respond well to this GENTLE and NON-ADDICTIVE herb as they do to more powerful chemical sedatives, tranquilizers and anti-depressants.

"There's nothing, repeat, nothing to be ashamed of
when you're going through a depression.
If you get help, the chances of your licking it are really good.
But, you have to get yourself onto a safe path"
Mike Wallace


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    1. Kids bring out the best in our lives don't they lol. I used to suffer from panic attacks - will take a look at your web page - thanks x