Everyone feels low, now and again. It is quite normal to go through periods of sadness. But if this low feeling persists beyond a normal period, you may well be suffering from depression. Depression is a vague term used to describe a range of emotions. Sometimes you experience melancholy, sometimes you feel exhausted, over anxious, stressed and at other times you just feel emotional and tearful. Lying submerged beneath these emotions are a host of reasons ranging from nutritional deficiencies to hormonal imbalances, PMS, menopause etc.

Food nourishes the body and the brain. If you have been eating incorrectly, effects of nutritional deficiencies are often reflected in mental symptoms. In fact deficiencies of any vitamin and mineral can show up first as impaired memory, lack of concentration, followed by moodiness, feeling of lack of self-worth, undernourished mind. There are a number of nutrients, herbs, amino acids, essential fatty acids that have a significant role to play in the prevention of depression

Vitamins and minerals: Unfortunately, our bodies cannot make their own vitamin supply. Therefore it is necessary to eat a well balanced diet to get adequate amounts of nutrients. However, the food that we eat is deficient in a whole lot of vitamins, and to add to this, most of us have badly maintained digestive systems. As a result, vitamin deficiencies, over the years can manifest themselves as depression. When these deficiencies are treated with supplements there is a reversal of symptoms. A deficiency of B1 (Thiamine) can lead to memory problems, lack of sleep, stomach upsets etc. Niacin deficiency can produce agitation, anxiety. Similarly, deficiency of vitamin B6, B12, folic acid can cause confusion, weakness, palpitation, anaemia, mood swings etc. Vitamin C is important for good mental health. In depressed individuals a 2-3 gm dose of sodium ascorbate helps to reduce symptoms of depression. A deficiency of minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc can often lead to muscle fatigue as these minerals are essential to many processes related to brain function. Minerals deficiencies show up faster than vitamin deficiencies.

St John’s wort: Herbs have a track record of providing health benefits to thousands of people without any significant side effects. St John’s wort is one such herb which has been extensively used to manage depression. It contains hypercin, which is known to have anti depressant properties. Herbal remedies usually take a long time to have effect. It may take as long as 4-6 weeks for an individual to experience its antidepressant effects. Few people experience nausea and gastro intestinal disturbances on taking St. John’s wort. Therefore it is best taken with meals to reduce discomfort.

Kava-Kava : This herb is usually used to calm the nerves and help you sleep better. It helps relieve tension and anxiety. It has been used for centuries in the South pacific region. It is effective for treating depression related to menopause.

Ginkgo Biloba : This is one of the best researched herbs in Europe. It improves mental functioning and has serotonin enhancing effects. Serotonin is the `feel-good’ neurotransmitter. It has been shown to have effective antidepressant effect. But it may take as long as two to ten weeks before you can experience its mood boosting properties.

Most herbs taken under proper guidance have minimal or no side effects. However, we are all different, so each one of us can be affected in different ways. Herbs work best when taken in combination with other herbs, vitamins, minerals, correct food intake and proper counselling sessions involving psychotherapy. This is a natural approach to medical care and it is the approach of the future.

ANJALI MUKERJEE, Nutritionist, Founder Director-Health Total, having health centers
in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune -manages obesity & other health related disorders.
Contact numbers: 1800 8918131/+91 86575 61727
For further information, Visit

November 28, 2020

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