The Blues – Depression

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Symptoms of depression may be easily confused with normal sadness associated with disappointing or traumatic events. However, clinical depression is an ongoing condition and is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) based on eight primary criteria:

  1. Depressed feelings that last most of the day and are especially strong in the morning
  2. Fatigue
  3. Feeling restless or slow
  4. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  5. Lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities
  6. Sleeping problems, either sleeping too much or too little
  7. Thoughts of suicide or death
  8. Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  9. Weight loss or gain (more than 5 percent of total body weight over the course of a month).

If you experience at least five of these symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.

Types of Depression

  • Chronic depression: A major depressive condition that consistently lasts for at least two years.
  • Dysthymic disorder: A patient must be depressed most of the time for at least 2 years (1 year for children or adolescents) and have at least three of the following symptoms:
    • Low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence
    • Pessimism, hopelessness, or despair
    • Lack of interest in ordinary pleasures and activities
    • Withdrawal from social activities
    • Fatigue or lethargy
    • Guilt or ruminating about the past
    • Irritability or excessive anger
    • Lessened productivity
    • Difficulty-in-concentrating or making decisions
  • Major depressive disorder: Characterized by a depressed mood or a severe decrease of interest in activities. These depression symptoms last most of the day for at least two weeks.
  • Manic depression or bipolar disorder: A condition characterized by cycling between manic periods — extremely elevated or irritable moods — and depressive periods. Symptoms include inflated self-esteem, grandiose delusions, boasting, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, psychomotor acceleration, weight loss due to increased activity and lack of attention to dietary habits.
  • Postpartum depression: A major depressive disorder condition that may occur after giving birth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: Characterized by major depression that occurs during the fall and winter frequently associated with summer hypomania.

Causes of Depression

Following are some common causes of depression:

  • Abuse
  • Death of a loved one or other personal loss
  • Genetics
  • Major events, such as a new job, a move, or a marriage or divorce
  • Medications such as antihypertensive especially the beta-blockers and reserpine, anti-inflammatory agents, birth control pills, antihistamines, corticosteroids, tranquilizers and sedatives.
  • Personal conflicts
  • Serious illness such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation, cancer, liver disease and multiple sclerosis.
  • Substance abuse e.g. prescription medication, illicit drugs, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.

Other causes may contribute to depression such as allergies or intolerances, environmental factors such as heavy metal toxicity, solvents e.g. cleaning products and benzene, pesticides and herbicides, hormonal imbalances, sleep disturbances and stress.

Naturopathic Treatment

Treatment depends on the factors contributing to the person’s depression, balancing the levels of neurotransmitters, improving patient’s nutrition and lifestyle factors as well as psychological health.

Nutritional and supplemental considerations

  • Avoid all refined carbohydrates and treating hypoglycaemia is very important, as studies have shown that it is a common finding in depressed individuals.
  • A balanced naturopathic diet low in sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, food additives and processed foods and high in unprocessed foods especially plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts, and cold water fish to at least twice per week.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, stimulants and alcohol.

Nutritional supplements may also be necessary to be administered as a deficiency of any single nutrient can alter brain function. Melvin Werbach, MD, stated:

“It is clear that nutrition can powerfully influence cognition, emotion, and behavior. It is also clear that the effects of classical nutritional deficiency diseases upon mental function constitute only a small part of a rapidly expanding list of interfaces between nutrition and the mind. Even in the absence of laboratory validation of nutritional deficiencies, numerous studies utilizing rigorous scientific designs have demonstrated impressive benefits from nutritional supplementation.”

Important supplementation includes a high-potency multivitamin and minerals, vitamin C, E, B9 and B12, Selenium, chromium, flaxseed oil and 5-HTP.

Herbal therapy

Hypericum perforatum commonly known as St John’s wort has a strong clinical reputation for the treatment of depression and has been extensively clinically studied for the treatment of mild and moderate depression. Caution however should be paid on self- prescribed St John’s wort and full disclosure to your physician is mandatory.

St. John’s wort

Hypericum exerts significant pharmacological activity within several neurochemical systems believed to be implicated in the pathophysiology of depression. It inhibits synaptic reuptake of serotonin (SSRI), noradrenalin and dopamine. It is also anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, reduces alcohol intake, helps with the psychological and psychosomatic symptoms of menopause, helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and improves cognitive function and other.


Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb  used for centuries to improve physical endurance, memory, work productivity, energy, sexual stimulation and reduce altitude sickness. It is an antioxidant, immune stimulant, antidepressant and helps with insomnia.

It is believed that Rhodiola works via neurotransmitter activity such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine within the brain stem, cerebral cortex and hypothalamus.


Turnera diffusa (Damiana) is popular because of its aphrodisiac activity in both sexes. It is also a tonic to the nervous system and an antidepressant. It is specifically indicated where depression or anxiety are associated with sexual inadequacy. The British Herbal Pharmacopoiea states that it is specifically indicated in anxiety neurosis with a predominant sexual factor.
The “Depression Formula” is specifically designed for those with mild depression and are not on any conventional drugs. For best results visit your naturopath or herbalist.

About Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides
Savvas Ioannides is a Naturopathic, Herbal and GAPS Diet practitioner who studied at Nature Care College in Sydney. Savvas uses holistic and natural therapies including Herbal remedies and Nutrition to boost your vitality and help you achieve optimum levels of health.

3 Responses to The Blues – Depression

  1. Pingback: Fibromyalgia | Natural Healing Cyprus

  2. Pingback: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Herbal Treatment | Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

  3. Pingback: Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) | Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

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