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Information on Depression

Notes, Nutrients, Herbs/Supplements, and Advice

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A mental state of depressed mood characterized by feelings of sadness, despair and discouragement. Depression ranges from normal feelings of the blues through dysthymia to major depression. It in many ways resembles the grief and mourning that follow bereavement, there are often feelings of low self esteem, guilt and self reproach, withdrawal from interpersonal contact and physical symptoms such as eating and sleep disturbances.


  • Large adrenal glands may be indicators of depression.
  • Listening to music can help ease depression and boost mood.
  • Maintaining an optimistic attitude is beneficial in overall health and in boosting immune function.
  • Selenium is recommended to help with anxiety and mood.
  • Serotonin levels sometimes decrease when using oral contraceptives or steroids.
  • St. John's Wort is a common antidepressant. Studies are still being done on its long-term effects.
  • Those who smoke have a better chance of being depressed than those who do not smoke.
  • Those who suffer from depression should get the help they need. Groups and organizations to help with depression are available for those who wish to use them.
  • Tyrosine is very beneficial for mental health. Supplementation and diet (mustard greens, spinach, beans) are both acceptable ways for getting tyrosine. Tyrosine is harmful for those taking MAO inhibitor drugs. Stay away from supplements and foods that have tyrosine in them. Your doctor or dietitian about foods and medicines that are right for you.
  • Calcium metabolism will be affected by depression.
  • Depressed people sometimes have decreased levels of folic acid or zinc in their bodies.
  • Depression can be caused by malabsorption, hypothyroidism, allergies, or hypoglycemia. Those who suffer from these maladies may benefit from getting more folic acid and vitamin B-12.
  • Depression can be helped through increasing production or activity of serotonin. There are prescription drugs available for each of these actions.
  • DHEA is being tested and studied for its possible benefits for those with depression.
  • Doctors offer many different types of prescribed drugs to help with depression: Monoamine (MAO) inhibitors to boost mood, tetracyclics, tricyclics, etc.
  • Exercise is beneficial for those with depression. The endorphins and enkephalins that result can boost a person's mood.
  • Lack of B vitamins and other nutritional deficiencies can contribute to depression, especially in older people.
Helpful nutrients for this condition.

Vitamin B12
Importance: Very High
Comments: Plays a role in producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.

Importance: Moderate
Comments: 5-HTP may be beneficial for supporting a variety of conditions associated with low serotonin levels. Depression may result from low serotonin levels.

Importance: Very High
Comments: Eases stress by increasing adrenaline production. Boosts dopamine levels, also a factor in moods. Caution: Refrain from using tyrosine if you are taking an MAO inhibitor drug.

Importance: Very High
Comments: Lack of zinc may contribute to depression. Zinc gluconate or OptiZinc is recommended.

Vitamin B complex
Importance: Very High
Comments: Promotes normal brain and nervous system function. In cases of severe depression, injections should be given under a physician's care. Can combine injectables into one shot.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Importance: Very High
Comments: Aids in normal brain function. May ease depression.

Liver extract
Importance: Very High
Comments: Provides B vitamins and other needed nutrients.

Vitamin B12
Importance: Very High
Comments: Provides B vitamins and other needed nutrients.

Vitamin B complex
Importance: Very High
Comments: Sublingual form is recommended if injections are unavailable.

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5)
Importance: Very High
Comments: Alleviates stress.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Importance: Very High
Comments: Alleviates stress.

Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Importance: Very High
Comments: Promotes cerebral circulation. Caution: Those who suffer from gout, liver disorder, or high blood pressure should not take niacin.

Folic acid
Importance: Very High
Comments: Often lacking in those with depression.

Choline and Inositol
Importance: Moderate
Comments: Promotes healthy brain function and neurotransmission. Caution: Those who are manic (bipolar) depressive should refrain from using these supplements.

Importance: Moderate
Comments: Promotes healthy brain function and neurotransmission. Caution: Those who are manic (bipolar) depressive should refrain from using these supplements.

Helpful herbs and supplements for this condition.

Lemon Balm
Type: Internal
Purposes: Lemon Balm is effective in calming the digestive tract especially when related to nervous tension.

Ephedra (ma huang)
Type: Internal
Purposes: It is thought to be beneficial in treating lethargic depression.
Cautions: This herb should not be used by people who are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or suffering from high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, dehydration, anxiety, heart disease, or insomnia.

Ginger, Ginkgo Biloba, Licorice Root, Oat Straw, Peppermint, and Siberian Ginseng
Type: Internal
Purposes: These 6 herbs have beneficial properties in the treatment of depression. Ginkgo Biloba - increases blood blow to the brain. Siberian Ginseng - Improves their sense of well-being. Oat Straw - Works as an aphrodisiac as a remedy for exhaustion and depression. Licorice - Powerful antidepressant. Peppermint - improves memory retention. Ginger - history of use for treating anxiety and depression.
Cautions: Licorice is not to be used if you have high blood pressure. Licorice should not be used on a daily basis.

Kava Kava
Type: Internal
Purposes: This herb is frequently used to treat nervous tension, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Cautions: If drowsiness occurs lower dosage and if continues discontinue using this herb. If taking anti-depressants do not take this herb. If pregnant for lactating do not take this herb. While taking this herb you may develop dry, scaly skin and yellowish discoloration of the hair and nails.

St. John's Wort
Type: Internal
Purposes: One of the active compounds in this herb is hypericin, which results in significant improvement in anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. Hypericum is a leading antidepressant, it has less MAO inhibitor activity than we had previously believed. Some studies have shown this herb to be a powerful antidepressant.
Cautions: If taking prescriptions for depression or any other medications that interacts with monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor drugs do NOT take this herb. Check with your physician if pregnant before taking this herb.


  • Avoid gluten and wheat products.
  • Check for food allergies.
  • Check for heavy metal intoxication.
  • Color therapy works for some people.
  • Eat a lot of soybeans and soy products, raw fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, brown rice, whole grain, millet, and legumes. It is important to provide your body with needed serotonin by including these complex carbohydrates in your diet.
  • Foods that are high in saturated fats (especially hamburgers and French fries) can contribute to many health conditions - poor circulation, blood clots, fatigue, sluggishness, and slow thinking. Brain circulation is also affected.
  • For depression that is related to a crisis (situational depression), a homeopathic remedy called Ignatia amara may be able to help. It may help to balance your emotions.
  • Nervous people should eat a lot of complex carbohydrates. Turkey and salmon provide tryptophan and protein which contribute to improved mood and overall emotional well-being. Essential fatty acids (salmon, white fish) will help boost alertness.
  • Phenylalanine, which is a big part of aspartame, is not good for those with depression. Some people are allergic to it. Combination free-form amino acids without phenylalanine are available.
  • Stay away from diet soda and artificial sweeteners as they inhibit serotonin formation. Side effects include headache, depression, and insomnia.
  • Stay away from processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine.
  • Stay away from stress as much as possible. Incorporate regular exercise (swimming, walking, etc.) into your routine. Make sure you are getting enough rest. Maintain an active mind.
  • Stevia is recommended as an alternative to sugar and other sweeteners like honey, molasses, and fruit juice. These other sweeteners cause a jump in energy and then a drop which leaves a person feeling worse than before.
  • Test yourself for an under active thyroid by taking your underarm temperature. Seek professional help if your temperature is low.
  • Try light therapy for seasonal depression. Make sure you are getting enough light, natural or full-spectrum fluorescent, every day. This will help boost your mood and control melatonin production in your body.
  • Try to develop a positive outlook. Push away negative thoughts. If necessary, get professional help from a cognitive behavioral therapist. Keep a journal to help you identify negative thinking and encourage positive thinking.