Be Careful of Depression
Depression has come more and more to the forefront in health care in recent years. Depression is a state of mind familiar to almost everyone, but this very familiarity becomes problematic when approaching clinical depressive states. Major depression occurs in 10% to 20% of the world's population in the course of a lifetime. Women are more often affected than men, by a two to one ratio, and they seem to be a particular risk in the period prior to menstruation or following childbirth. Relatives of patients with major depression also seem to be at some higher risk of becoming depressed, and about 2% of the population may have a chronic disorder known as a depressive personality.
Depression is defined by a standard set of symptoms described in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They are:
1. poor appetite and significant weight loss, or increased appetite and significant weight gain;
2. insomnia, or increased sleep;
3. agitation, or retardation, of movement and thought;
4. loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities or decrease in sexual drive;
5. fatigue and loss of energy;
6. feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or excessive or inappropriate guilt;
7. diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness;
8. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
Natural medicine, including herbs, diet, and other non-invasive therapies, is particularly appropriate in treating the underlying causes and symptoms associated with depression. Unlike conventional, allopathic medicine, natural medicine works in a gradual manner, is humanly comprehensible and may even be considered to be ordinary-- like ordinary magic. Natural medicine is consistent with the rhythms of nature and how nature is organized. Historically, there has been a commitment in medicine to do no harm, and when you are using natural substances such as herbs and working at a gradual pace, the likelihood of doing harm is almost completely eliminated. Two major classes of anti-depressant drugs are commonly used: the tricyclic drugs, employed since the early 1960's, and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (M.A.O.I.'s). The herbalist should be familiar with these widely prescribed drugs as they impact the prognosis.