Natural remedies to avoid depression and the winter blues
Note from Carolyn:
This time of year many people in our area are dealing with depression and/or anxiety. One is the calendar saying that this is a 'new year', yet all our old problems and concerns are still hanging around. Many of us slide into depression after Christmas from a combination of poor eating and the natural slump after a much anticipated event is over. Looking to natural ways to solve this is slower, but much safer and longer lasting than pharmaceuticals.
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you live in the upper reaches of the Northern Hemisphere, winter can often mean
a seemingly interminable period of cold weather and short days. For many, the
lack of sunshine, combined with life stress factors, can lead to
Often people fail to recognize depression for what it is,
treating it as a weakness or personality flaw rather than an illness. A "suck it
up and get on with it" attitude often keeps people from labeling themselves as
depressed, but this approach is counterproductive; failing to treat the disease
only prolongs it.
Some of the signs of depression include: difficulty
concentrating; persistent sadness or anxiety; inability to experience ordinary
pleasure and enjoyment; irritability; change in appetite; ongoing fatigue and
feelings of hopelessness. Learn how to cope with dark days naturally, without
recourse to pharmaceutical anti-depressants which can cause serious side-effects
ranging from nausea to reduced sex drive.
Vitamin DA depression which recurs annually during the winter, as well
as feelings of depression which deepen during this period, are related to lack
of vitamin D, which is delivered in its most powerful form through sunshine.
Vitamin D increases brain levels of serotonin, which has been called the
"happiness hormone." Vitamin D also plays an important role in the body's
production of dopamine, a mood-lifting transmitter. One excellent source of
vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil; just one teaspoon a day delivers a potent
dose of this vitamin. Dietary sources include salmon, sardines and mackerel as
well as organ meats and eggs (choose organic sources for maximum health benefit,
of course). You may also want to try a vitamin D supplement to ensure that you
get your daily dose.
St. John's WortThis plant has been used as a nerve tonic for centuries.
Its name derives from the fact that its bright yellow flowers bloom around June
24, the day when the feast of St. John was celebrated in the medieval era,
shortly after the summer solstice. Traditional herbalists have long held that a
tincture made from this plant delivers some of the bright solar energy of that
time of year. Recent medical research has confirmed its efficacy in treating
anxiety as well as moderate depression.
Side-effects and precautions: St.
John's wort should not be taken in combination with pharmaceutical
anti-depressants. Some studies suggest it may interfere with oral
contraceptives. St. John's Wort may increase the effect of sleeping medications
and anesthetics. It may cause sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Also, for people
suffering from bipolar disorder, taking this herbal remedy may increase mood
Balanced LifestyleIn addition to taking St. John's wort and vitamin D,
take care that your lifestyle remains healthy and active throughout the winter
months. Avoid eating too many "comfort foods" as many of these do not travel
easily through the digestive tract, leaving the body constipated and with an
overall sluggish feeling.
Try not to succumb to the temptation to
hibernate through the winter; human bodies are not designed for months of
stillness. You can try to develop a better relationship with cold weather by
learning a winter sport such as cross-country or downhill skiing, ice-skating or
hockey. Or commit to a regular program of indoor exercise, preferably something
you enjoy enough that you won't find excuses to avoid it. Try dancing or doing
yoga if the prospect of getting on a treadmill fills you with
Also, take some time to perform emotional self-care. Express
your feelings rather than suppressing them, whether by visiting a therapist,
writing in a journal or talking with a trusted friend. Re-connect frequently
with feelings of happiness, whether watching a funny movie or listening to music
that lifts your spirit.
Often people believe they must either deny their
emotions or end up drowning in their feelings. Learning to meditate can help
provide a balanced path between those two extremes and enable you to feel that
you are not at the mercy of your emotions.
Tara Green - Natural News
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