Depression: The Not So Casual Blues

What causes depression?
Depression is the slump that you can’t seem to pull yourself out of because you don’t quite realize how long you’ve been in this slump. Once you realize you’re in this seemingly everlasting slump you don’t have the tools to navigate it or something in your environment whether physical, social or emotional has triggered you in an unexpected way. Some of these triggers could be connected to a loss.  For instance, the loss of a loved one, a professional job, a home or a safe living environment, a relationship, like a breakup and/or divorce or really any extremely stressful life event involving a loss like childbirth or a miscarriage. Depression can also show up as a way of gaining control of a person supporting you or trying to avoid the reality of a situation. It can also be genetic and can even be onset by generationally learned behaviors like helplessness, pessimism, or perceived vulnerability.

What now?
There have been numerous studies proving the direct connection between the gut and the brain so in addition to finding your way to a trusted source of support whether it be an app, group therapy or one-on-one therapy sessions, by mindfulness of your lifestyle and how it could be contributing to your mood. Limiting processed sugar, caffeine, alcohol, food you’re allergic to or have reactions are an ideal practice. Focus on including whole (earth-made) foods and avoiding chemically preserved foods to help your balance return to balance. Anti-inflammatory eating plans can be supportive to reduce the inflammation that tends to accompany depression.

Is St John’s Wort an answer?  
St. John’s Wort scientifically/botanically known as Hypericum perforatum, has been used for decades to support with serotonin-related depression. I say serotonin-related because it might be worth getting some blood work done to identify your nutrient deficiencies and your serotonin levels. Constituents like hyperforin and hypericin are responsible for the antidepressant properties of St. John’s Wort (SJW), but essentially it’s in the way the herb bio-actively works with the body to manage depression is what makes it so effective for mild to moderate depression. SJW has been shown to inhibit the body’s absorption of serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine, mimicking the action of serotonin inhibiting the antidepressant class of medications like Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. The sides effects and adverse reactions from St. John’s Wort are far less than those of pharmaceutical medications, and they generally are the occasional dry mouth and constipation. Both positively encouraging you to drink more fluids.   

It’s strongly suggested to work with a trained herbalist to ensure you’re getting the right dosage, and that it’s safe for you personally (some contraindications with high blood pressure and the intake of other medications) but if your options for seeing an herbalist are limited be sure to purchase your supplement from a reputable source only if you’re not on any other meds. When you’re incorporating St. John’s Wort into your routine to supportive mild-moderate depression aim for .3% hypericin and  4% hyperforin in dosages of 300 mg up to three times a day for roughly four to six weeks to feel any improvements. If you’re currently on a prescribed medication, do not, I repeat, do not stop taking them without seeing your doctor and a trained herbalist. Tread lightly and consider the safety of SJW if you’re already on medication and read the possible drug interactions SJW is known to have here.


References:

Cui, Y., & Zheng, Y. (2016). A meta-analysis on the efficacy and safety of St John’s wort extract in depression therapy in comparison with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in adults. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 12, 1715–1723. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S106752

Mahan K., Raymond J. (2012). Krause’s Food & The Nutrition Care Process. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

Pizzorno J., Murray M., Joiner-Bey, H. (2008). The clinician’s handbook of natural medicine. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone.

Wong, S. (2012). Evidence-based naturopathic practice literature review: Hypericum perforatum. Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine, 24(3), 97–99.