All of us have experienced the blues from time to time.  But it’s a serious disorder if the blues don’t let go of you! Depression may look and sound like the blues, but it lasts longer and has a more profound effect on the body.  It is the most unpleasant experience a person can go through. It’s normal to feel gloomy, disappointed or heartbroken when you lose a loved one or divorce or have sudden financial problems. But if these feelings persist beyond a `normal’ period, you may well be heading for a depression.

You know you are depressed, if you lose interest in friends or hobbies, or if you live in a state of sadness so severe that normal activities seem impossible to perform.  Things that used to make you happy, no longer do so.  Work becomes uninteresting, you feel lethargic, restless, you either sleep too much or too little, you find it difficult to concentrate on anything and develop an `I don’t care’ attitude.  Most people eat more when depressed, but few just give up eating.

Who gets depression?

Usually, people who are very sensitive and insecure.  Of course, circumstances can affect one’s outlook, but people handle situations differently. Women are more prone to being depressed than men.  The reason for this is not known but a probable explanation could be that they find themselves in depression promoting circumstances like depending upon the male members for financial support, for going out for social acceptance etc.  Depression in women can also be attributed to hormonal factors, premenstrual syndrome, menopause, low haemoglobin levels etc.  Depression is also known to run in families.

Whatever the cause of depression may be, its effects can be devastating.  It can reduce a persons immunity, lower his energy levels, affect family life and performance at work, cause migraines, backaches, body aches etc.  It is true that whatever we think correspondingly affects some part of the human anatomy.  The MIND can create disease.  Once the mind is affected, a lot of negativity sets in, and it takes about 4-6 months to have repercussions on the physical body in the form of some ailment.  Yes! depressed people are more prone to physical ailments than those who remain happy.

Natural remedies

Severe forms of depression require attention from a trained therapist.  What you choose to eat has a profound effect on the mental health of a person.  If people haven’t been eating right most of their lives, then it can affect their health in their forties or fifties.  Whilst incorrect eating may not be the cause of depression, correcting a deficiency can prove to be beneficial.

Eat more carbohydrates

Foods rich in carbohydrates like rice, potatoes, pasta and bread helps to build up brain chemicals such as serotonin, that affect one’s mood and is often lacking in depressed people. High levels of serotonin elevate mood and promote a feeling of well-being and satiety.  Those suffering from mild depression tend to feel more calm and mellow after eating carbohydrate-rich food.

Increase your intake of tryptophan

This is an amino acid required in the production of serotonin the `feel good’ neurotransmitter.  Eating foods rich in tryptophan like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, evening primrose seeds help to control the `blues.

St. Johns wort

This herb is known to bring about improvement in feelings of anxiety and depression.  It also helps to improve sleep quality.  But it usually works if taken for about 4-5 weeks.  Check with your therapist before taking it.  Do not use it if you are pregnant.


Siberian ginseng helps to improve energy levels and improves your sense of well-being.  It is available in the form of capsules.


These vitamins help our `postal system’ or the neurotransmitters to function properly.  This, in turn, affects our sense of well-being.  Foods rich in B-vitamins include wheat germ, whole grains, green vegetables, nuts and seeds. Supplements of B-complex are readily available in case you have a severe deficiency.

Rosemary oil

This is an essential oil, which is a favourite amongst aromatherapist for treating depression. Mix a few drops of this oil in any vegetable oil or massage lotion.  It helps to stimulate the central nervous system and relieves anxiety. You can use chamomile and bergamot essential oils for the same purpose.

Ginkgo Biloba

Is a herb that improves circulation especially in the elderly who suffer from reduced blood flow to the brain.  It also improves mental faculties along with depression.

These herbs and vitamins provide support if you are depressed.  But everyone faces depression at some point in life.  It is the way you handle it that makes all the difference.  You can get over any problem if you truly wish to do so. Have a mind that thinks positively and this will go a long way in helping you through your depression or any other ailment.

(As published in Hindustan Times dated May 20, 2019)

May 20, 2019

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