Overcoming Sadness and Depression, Naturally
by David Dancu 

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 and relatives.

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 conflict. 

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 decision-making problems.

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.

 

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