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Have you ever felt depressed? Was it just a passing bout of the blues or was it more severe? Let's talk about this topic and discuss some natural remedies that can be effective for less severe cases.

Christians often think that depression has no place in a person yielded to God, but this is not so! Many faithful servants have suffered from depression and have even considered suicide! I once spoke at a Christian health day where I met two extraordinary Christian women who told of their experiences with depression and bipolar disorder, and how the Lord carried and sustained them through it all. Please do not think that clinical depression is brought about by the person suffering from it. It has many origins, and in this fallen world even Christians suffer from hormonal and other biochemical imbalances that often have no causal explanation. There is therefore no reason to feel ashamed!

If you think that you, or someone you know, is suffering from depression, there is a really good self-test at Other helpful sites are:

So what exactly is the difference between depression and a bout of the blues, and what can be done about it naturally?

Clinical depression is not the same as having the blues once in a while. Instead, it's a psychiatric disorder based on physiological changes that produces four or more of the following symptoms consistently, almost every day, for a period of at least 2 weeks and ongoing: a depressed, sad or empty mood, irritability, excessive crying, markedly diminished interest/pleasure in ordinary activities (including sex), sleep and/or eating disturbances, constant fatigue/loss of energy, psychomotor disturbances, feelings of inappropriate guilt, worthlessness or helplessness, and a diminished ability to think or concentrate. There may also be increased visits to the doctor, chronic aches and pains that don’t respond to treatment, and/or recurrent thoughts of death and/or suicide.

On the positive side, there are effective natural substances people have successfully utilised for the treatment of mild to moderate (but NOT severe or major) depression. The most well known herb is Hypericum perforatum, commonly known as St. John’s wort (wort = plant).Several studies have shown it to be just as effective as tricyclic and SSRI (serotonin reuptake inhibitor) medications, but with virtually none of their negative side effects. St. John’s wort inhibits stress induced physiological changes and therefore stops stress from getting started. It acts as a mood enhancer and stabiliser, relieves anxiety and depression, has a calming affect on the nervous system, and supports the body’s natural defence mechanism. Trials have shown that the best therapeutic dose for depression is 300 mg of the dried herb in tablet or capsule form (standardised to contain 0.3% hypericin), to be taken three times daily. This means a hypericin content of 2.7 gr daily. However, most over the counter products in Australia contain less hypericin, which means that you have to take more of the herb.For example, Healtheries produce a 1.8 gr St. John’s wort capsule containing 1000 mcg (1 gr) of hypericin. This means that you will require 2 – 3 capsules daily (depending on individual needs) to obtain 2 – 3 gr of hypericin. Other brands have similar contents, but please check the label. And please be patient, St. John’s wort takes a little while to work (from a few days to a few weeks). Additionally, 1000 - 2000 mg (1 - 2 gr) of Valerian root about one hour before bedtime may be able to help you sleep better, and the herb Damiana (Turnera diffusa) can be helpful to reduce sexual dysfunction associated with many antidepressant medications. All of these herbs can be taken simultaneously without adverse interactions, but please be aware that St. John’s wort (Hypericum) should NOT be taken in conjunction with other antidepressants or with certain other medications, because it will alter their effectiveness: oral contraceptives, theophylline, warfarin, digoxin, reserpine, cyclosporine, loperamide and indinivir (a protease inhibitor used for HIV).

A less well known, but even more effective and more quickly working substance is SAMe (s-adenosyl-l-methionine). This is a naturally occurring source of methyl groups in the brain, which are necessary to produce feel-good neurotransmitters. Impaired methylation seems to occur in several neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, and SAMe supplementation provides an excellent, fast working antidepressant action. It is interesting to note that the synthesis of SAMe is closely linked with folate and vitamin B12, since a deficiency of these two vitamins may also cause nerve and emotional disorders including depression. As to dosage, SAMe should be taken on an empty stomach, preferably 1 hour away from food, starting at a dosage of 200 mg once or twice daily. If results aren't seen in a few days, the dose can be increased, up to 800 mg daily if needed, but 400 mg per day is usually sufficient. Since SAMe is unstable at higher temperatures, it should be kept refrigerated whenever possible, and enteric coated tablets ensure stability. It is also important to add the necessary co-factors in order to avoid increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This means taking vitamin B6 (50 - 60 mg), vitamin B12 (up to 1000 mcg) and folic acid (800 mcg) as part of a multi-vitamin formula with food during SAMe supplementation. Unfortunately, SAMe is quite expensive, but often just one 2-week course followed by St. John’s Wort is sufficient to change the mood balance.

Another source of depression is an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone, where hormone replacement therapy in crème form (preferably natural, see last issue) can do the trick. Progesterone has a calming effect on agitated depressions, being much stronger than the average barbiturate, whereas for lethargic depressions oestrogen is at least as invigorating as Prozac. Hormone supplementation has achieved remarkable success treating women who did not respond to other antidepressant medication.

Dr. Bach also invented the proven Rescue Remedy (made from flower essences) for shock, panic, hysteria or desperation. Whilst this is not an antidepressant, it is an excellent first-aid remedy for all sorts of emergencies, including panic episodes during depression. It can be used whenever there is fear and/or high stress levels, and it works really well for children as well as adults. For many more helpful strategies to combat less severe depression I can highly recommend the book banishing the blues by Hilary Boyd, published in 2000 by Mitchell Beazley, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd, London, ISBN 1 84000 315 4.

I hope that this article has provided you with helpful information. Please note that it is not a personal prescription (see the disclaimer at the bottom of my blog), so please see a qualified health practitioner for your individual needs. I wish you well until we meet again.

In Christ,


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