The Down Side

Depression…anything from feeling a bit flat to finding life so painful that death looks like a blessed release. The word is a catchall; it has a medical definition, but that’s not much use to real people in the real world. And there are medical answers, but they don’t suit everybody.
What can be done from a herbal point of view? Herbs won’t throw a blanket over it, the way some drugs seem to. What they will do is to support your nervous system. If you’ve had a lot of stress, your system gets tired of living on a knife edge, and a sort of ‘shutdown’ can follow, especially if you can’t see any end to it. Herbs like Liquorice, Oatstraw, Vervain and Ashwagandha can help to fill up your reserves again, so that your resilience returns and you feel able to cope once more.
Some herbs will work more specifically on mood enhancement: St John’s Wort is probably the most famous, but there are plenty of others. With this category, you should be aware that there can be interactions with any drugs that you are taking, and your doctor will need to know if you are using herbs. In general, they are most useful in mild to moderate depression, and you will need to take them for at least two to three months to get the full effect. These are the ones that get the most attention, but the supporting cast – the ones I mentioned above – will always have a part to play, and sometimes they are the real heroes of the piece.

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