This is a very broad topic that cannot be dealt with in any real depth in a brief article. However, if you or someone you know suffers from depression I hope there are some ideas here that will inspire you to investigate further and look for positive, life-changing therapies.
Depression from Loss
Certainly there is situational depression which happens in direct response to a life-changing event, the loss of a loved one or loss of a job, for example. In this case, the support of friends and family, along with maintaining a daily routine, are often helpful. It can take two years to work through the bulk of the emotion from a significant loss, and certainly, by the end of that time one should begin to see relatively steady improvement, eventually experiencing more good days than bad. One of the best remedies I have ever found for loss/grief induced depression is Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil.
A few years ago I exchanged emails with a fellow-practitioner from Australia. We met at a practitioner chat room on the internet and had been exchanging essential oil experiences when she emailed me privately and told me of a very tragic 2 years wherein she had lost five family members including her husband. She was deeply depressed and having a hard time functioning. I suggested she should use Bulgarian rose oil, just one drop under her nose, first thing in the morning. Her reply was that it was too expensive and she was on the verge of going bankrupt and losing her home. I encouraged her to get the rose oil in spite of her finances.
She emailed me the next day and said that she had opened the rose oil she had brought in for a client and put one drop under her nose before she got out of bed. She had gotten up, then showered and dressed – two activities that had not happened on the same day since her husband’s passing six months earlier.
The next day she used one more drop of Bulgarian rose oil, got up, showered, dressed, and sorted through her husbands’ closet. On day three, using one more drop of that very precious rose oil she contacted her lawyer and he was able to ascertain that the house could be saved and that filing for bankruptcy would not be needed.
Indeed the rose oil had changed this fine lady’s brain chemistry and enabled her get back into the game of life.
Depression from Seasonal Affective Disorder
For some people depression is a cyclical thing happening in the winter only. It can start as early as October or as late as February, and last until March or April. January and February are usually the worst months. This is seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD.
Clinical research has shown that some people are very much affected by the reduced sunlight in the winter. This is complicated by the fact that in the winter we rise in the dark, go to work in the dark, come home in the dark, and go to bed in the dark. Our work and life schedules seem to keep us from ever seeing the sun. This is definitely a problem for some people.
Some key symptoms that differentiate SAD from other types of depression include: the depression only happens in the winter months; and the depression always resolves itself when daylight hours get longer.
We all have a small gland in the middle of our heads called a pineal gland. This gland is our ‘light receptor’. It produces melatonin in response to darkness. Melatonin makes us sleepy and lethargic, and makes us crave carbohydrates. Because SAD is a form of depression we may also see some of the other common symptoms of depression including crying, lack of interest, lower energy, feeling blue or sad, irritability, and appetite and/or sleep pattern changes.
One of the best forms of treatment for SAD is phototherapy. This easy therapy involves sitting beside a special light for twenty minutes within the first two hours of waking up, and at the same time each day. This light stimulates the pineal in the same way the sun does. People who are affected by SAD see the best results using the light year-round.
The therapeutic lights that are recommended by the SAD clinic at the Foothills hospital are available through Northern Lights Technologies.
Liver and Adrenal Gland Connection
Many authors that I have read link depression to the liver and/or adrenal glands. I will admit that since so many people are concerned about ‘detoxing’ the liver I often prefer to focus on the adrenal glands.
Just to make sure we cover all the bases, however, I will start with the liver. The liver ultimately processes everything you eat, breathe, or absorb. It breaks things down that are harmful, prepares things for other organs to use, and then collects all of the metabolic The Lost Book of Herbal garbage and breaks it down into things the kidneys can extract.
The Chinese consider the liver to be the center of ‘feeling’, and when not working right, this is where they say anger, resentment, and bitterness originate and are stored. If you tend to ‘keep score’ or ‘hold a grudge’ it is likely your liver needs ongoing support.
Chinese Herbal formulas that are ‘wood reducing’ are often used for supporting the liver, especially when there is anger, resentment, or depression involved.
The adrenals, the unsung heroes, take a beating day in and day out. Our normal daily patterns often involve unrelenting, if not insidious, stress. Whether your adrenals are functioning well or not is easy to determine by how your nights are. Your adrenals should be putting out hormones that ‘bring you down’ after a stressful day, however, if you sleep for 2 -4 hours, then spend the rest of the night waking up frequently and sleeping lightly you are probably suffering from adrenal exhaustion. At night your adrenals should produce anti-diuretic hormone which slows the kidneys down for the night to reduce the amount of urine produced while you sleep so If you waken more than once each night to urinate (and are not a male with prostate problems) you probably have very tired adrenal glands.
Supplements that contain vitamins and minerals along with bovine adrenal extract to support and nourish the adrenal glands are often very good for building the adrenals up again.
A Chinese herbal blend duo that works well is ‘generate chi’ and ‘regulate chi’. These two supplements, used as per bottle instructions, can also create dramatic results with the adrenals.
Stress formulas that a combine B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and herbs for the nervous system are excellent choices for supporting the nervous system and creating resiliency in the face of stress. Interestingly, the B Vitamins are essential for healthy liver, adrenal, and nervous system function
Now, bringing this back to depression…if we get the liver and adrenals on track we can often have a positive impact on depression.
One of the most valuable, yet underrated, therapies for depression is exercise. It’s not that everyone who is depressed should aspire to be an Olympic athlete. Far from it. More reasonably everyone, and most especially those who suffer with depression need to make the effort (and it will be an effort at first) to get 30 – 45 minutes of cardio exercise daily. I’m going to qualify this further in saying that cardio exercise as a part of the treatment program for depression needs to happen during daylight hours, and preferably outside, if possible.
Cardio exercise is anything that uses large muscles and increases the heart rate significantly. Walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, stairstepping, and treadmilling are just a few of the more common cardio exercises. Sadly, gardening doesn’t usually get the heart rate high enough for long enough to count as cardio, however, shovelling snow might, depending on how long your sidewalk is.