Ask the Nurse

Do you have any knowledge about natural antidepressants compared to medical?

Many people experience some "ups and downs" in life which is normal. However, clinical depression and anxiety are medical and psychiatric conditions that should be diagnosed by a health care provider (such as internist, women’s health specialist or psychiatrist). There can be great mimickers of depressive symptoms, such as lack of sleep (due to insomnia or sleep apnea), certain medications, alcohol or drug abuse and low thyroid. A major depressive syndrome is defined as having five or more of the following symptoms present daily (or almost every day) for more than two weeks:

  • Depressed mood*
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all activities*
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation
  • Low energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Thoughts of worthlessness or guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts about death or suicide

*At least one symptom is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

There are a variety of classes of medications used to treat depression, such as SSRIs and SNRIs. These treatments are often used together with psychotherapy or counseling. I also recommend a B complex vitamin, intake of omega 3’s in food or supplements, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress relief as good lifestyle habits.

In terms of alternative treatments for depression, St John’s Wort is most often cited as a "natural antidepressant." However, large studies from the reputable National Institutes of Health (NIH) did not show this herb to be effective at treating moderate depression. For more information: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

All My Best,
Speaking of Women's Health Nurse

January 16, 2012 at 9:00am