Herbal Remedies for Depression

Depression is a debilitating condition that affects the way you think, feel and act. Individuals who suffer from depression often experience difficulty with routine decision-making and concentration, and find themselves constantly bombarded by negative thoughts. Many depression sufferers feel that their lives aren’t worth living, and some even contemplate suicide. Often mischaracterized as a sign of personal weakness or a “phase” that one will eventually “snap out of,” depression is a chronic illness that, in most cases, requires ongoing care and management.

Signs of depression include feelings of sadness, loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities, dramatic changes in sleep patterns, agitation or restlessness, excessive fatigue, crying spells and frequent thoughts of death or dying. Interestingly, it has also been found that individuals who suffer from depression are more likely to also experience certain other medical problems, including headaches and back pain. If left untreated, the symptoms of depression can last for very long periods of time - sometimes even years.

Most of the time, individuals with depression are treated with anti-depressant drugs. While largely effective at relieving the symptoms of depression, these drugs are often associated with troublesome side effects and social stigma. For some people with depression, herbal remedies offer an effective alternative to pharmaceutical treatment. Here are a few of the most common plant-based treatments for depression.

St. John’s wort has been used for centuries to help alleviate feelings of sadness, worry and nervousness. St. John’s wort also helps to promote sleep. Clinical trials have shown that, in mild to moderate cases of depression, St. John’s wort is more effective than placebo and just as effective at relieving symptoms as pharmaceutical anti-depressants. Although St. John’s wort does cause some side effects - notably, sensitivity to the sun, dizziness, dry mouth and fatigue - the side effects are usually less severe than those caused by anti-depressant drugs.

Ginkgo biloba is another popular herbal supplement that has been shown to improve mood. Ginkgo biloba appears to be particularly effective in older individuals, but depression sufferers under the age of fifty can also benefit from its mood-boosting properties. Because ginkgo biloba improves circulation in the brain, it can also be helpful for improving memory and concentration.

Some of the best herbal remedies for depression are combinations of multiple herbs, either in teas or tinctures. St. John’s wort, for example, can be combined with licorice root, ginseng root, lemon balm leaf, and ashwaganda leaf to form a powerful anti-depressant tincture. Another St. John’s wort blend includes oat straw, lavender and mugwort.

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