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Depression is a mood disorder. Generally, those with symptoms of depression show and experience frequent and intense states of dissatisfaction and sadness and tend to not enjoy the common everyday activities. People suffering from depression live in a state of constant bad mood and with negative thoughts and pessimists about themselves and their future.
Depression is defined as any imbalance, more or less severe, in mood. Depression is not a mere change of mood to the negative, but the result of the action of several symptoms that can make the person’s way of acting, even considerably, change. Depression is often accompanied by insomnia, eating disorders, concentration problems, suicidal ideologies and / or self-harm.
What is depression?
Often depression arises from the inability to accept a loss or failure to achieve one’s own purpose (which is experienced as an insuperable failure). These are, for example, all forms of depression that arise from personal mourning, rather than from the loss of work or from the breakup of an important affective relationship.
Symptomatology is typically more intense in the morning and improves during the day, but there are exceptions. Depression can manifest with different levels of severity. Some people have symptoms of low intensity depression, linked to some moments of life, while others feel so depressed that they can not perform normal daily activities. You can suffer from depression acutely (with very intense and sudden depressive phases), or suffer chronically and continuously, albeit in light weight, with some sudden moments of worsening.
Often relatives spur those who are reluctant to react. This is naturally in good faith, but it can generate feelings of guilt in the person with depressive disorder. In about 15% of cases, depression becomes a chronic disorder with a duration of more than 3 years. Such cases total up to 50% of depression instances. After a first relapse, the probability of it falls to 75%.
Medicinal plants and beneficial supplements against depression are all sedative and anti-anxiety officinal herbs, such as eleuteroid, oat, hypericum, valerian, passiflora, chamomile, lime, peppermint, hawthorn, elder, mistletoe, hop and others.
Depression is a psychopathological state marked by a decrease in the tone of mood, abatement, and psycho-physical prostration. There are several forms of depression, which can be differentiated in part from the different causes or causes of triggers (based on organic lesions, concomitant general illnesses, biological substrates such as neuromodulators, genetic and psychodynamic factors).
In depression, beside sadness, disorientation, disinterest, and lack of initiative, are often present in the subject feelings of insecurity, sense of indifference, restlessness and anxiety. There are always present insomnia, decreased sexual desire, headache, dizziness, cardiovascular functional disturbances. Depression is an underestimated and under-diagnosed disease that often chronicles and in 50% of cases it causes recurrences. Is a disease that equally affects both sexes and at all ages, although the incidence is greater in the elderly. The difficulty in diagnosing depressive syndromes lies in the subjective difficulty of recognizing symptoms as specific.
Traditional pharmacological therapy is undoubtedly the one most successful in most severe depression. As a result, it can be seen how phytotherapy can find undeniable difficulties in inserting into the therapeutic range of psychoses.
Read our guide to Depression where you will find full information about causes, symptoms, types and treatment: www.besthomeremedies.com/diseases/depression.html
What are the symptoms of depression?
Feeling depressed means seeing the world through glasses with dark lenses: everything seems opaque and difficult to tackle, even getting up from bed in the morning or taking a shower. Many depressed people have the feeling that others can not understand their mood and are unnecessarily optimistic.
Cognitive symptoms are the difficulty in making decisions and solving problems, mental ruminations (staying in thinking about their illness and possible causes), self-criticism and self-assessment, catastrophic thought, and pessimistic thoughts. The behavior that characterizes the depressed person is the avoidance of people and social isolation, passive behaviors, frequent complaints, reduction of sexual activity, and suicide attempts.
What are depression causes?
Depression can affect anyone. The causes of depression can be multiple and different from person to person (inheritance, social environment, family mourning, work problems, etc.).
However, research shows the presence of two major risk factors as causes of depression:
- The biological factor: some people are born with a greater genetic predisposition to depression.
- The psychological factor: the experiences and behaviors learned during their life history (e.g. mental enumeration) can make them vulnerable to depression.
The consequences of depression can have important repercussions on everyday life. The school’s or work activity may diminish in quantity and quality mainly because of the concentration and memory problems typically featured by depressed people. This disorder also leads to social retirement and with time it damages relationships with the partner, children, friends, and colleagues. The mood of the deprived person also affects the relationship with oneself and your body. Typically, in fact, those who are depressed have difficulty in taking care of their appearance, eating and sleeping regularly.
The causes of mood disorders are not exactly known, as has been mentioned above. Causal factors can be artificially divided into biological, genetic and psychosocial, but this subdivision is artificial because of the high probability that the three realities interact with each other.
Psychosocial and genetic factors can affect biological factors such as the concentrations of a certain neurotransmitter. Biological and psychosocial factors may also affect genetic expression and biological and genetic factors can affect a person’s response to psychosocial factors.
The two major mood disorders are major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder are often referred to as affective disorders, but the critical pathology in those disorders is related to mood, the internal emotional state maintained in a person, and not the affection, or the external expression of emotional content this. Patients suffering from depression-only episodes are considered to be suffering from major depression, sometimes called unipolar depression. Subjects with both manic and depressive episodes and those with only manic episodes are considered affected by a bipolar disorder.
A major depressive episode should last at least two weeks. typically a person is depressed or loses interest in most activities. A person diagnosed as suffering from a major depressive episode must also present at least four symptoms from a list that includes changes in appetite and weight, sleep and physical activity, lack of energy, feelings of guilt, problems in formulating thoughts and making decisions and recurring ideas of death or suicide.
A manic episode is a well-defined period (at least one week, less if the patient needs to be hospitalized) of ‘mood swings that is persistently high, expansive or irritable.’ A mixed episode is a period of at least one week where almost daily a manic episode and a major depressive episode occur. Symptoms of the hypomanic episode, which lasts at least four weeks, are similar to those of the maniacal episode, but also include at least three symptoms of exaggerated self-esteem, reduced sleep, distraction, great physical and mental activity, and excessive engaging in pleasant behavior with unpleasant consequences. If a person is in irritable rather than in elevated mood, there should be four of these symptoms.
Even two other mood disorders, distemper disturbance and cyclotymic disorder, have been clinically accepted for some time. They are characterized by the presence of less serious symptoms of the symptoms of major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder, respectively. According to DSM-IV, dysthymia is characterized by at least two years of mood depression that occurs most of the time and further depressive symptoms that do not shape the diagnosis of major depressive episodes. Cyclotymic disorder is characterized by at least two years of hypomanic symptoms that occur frequently and do not configure the diagnosis of manic episodes and depressive symptoms that do not configure the diagnosis of major depressive episode.
This article is intended to help the reader to quickly identify the natural remedies useful in the treatment of various symptoms, disorders and pathologies. For some remedies listed, this utility may not have been confirmed by sufficient experimental testing, conducted by scientific method. In addition, any natural remedy presents potential risks and contraindications.
If available, we recommend that you click on the link corresponding to the single remedy to deepen the topic. In any case, remember the importance of avoiding self-therapy and consulting your doctor beforehand to ascertain the absence of contraindications and pharmacological interactions.
For the new mother, the baby’s birth can spark a cascade of intense and conflicting emotions, ranging from excitement and joy to anger and anxiety attacks, but can also lead to something that is not expected, such as post-partum depression. New mothers experience a physiological malaise called ‘baby blues,’ which often occurs after baby’s birth and which generally includes mood swings and crying that are quickly resolved. Other new mothers, however, come across a more severe and lasting form of depression, known as post-partum depression. Finally, even more rarely, after the birth of the baby there is an extreme form of postpartum depression known as postpartum psychosis. Post-partum depression is a mood disorder that affects 8-12% of women after childbirth.
In the days immediately after the birth of the child, many new mothers develop a form of transient depression called ‘baby blues’ (in reference to the state of melancholy, irritability and anxiety that characterizes the phenomenon). This is a rather common reaction, often caused by physical and mental fatigue due to labor and labor. The symptoms are typically mild and usually tend to disappear within 7-10 days.
Conversely, true post-partum depression manifests itself with more intense symptoms, which develop over 3 months and last for more than 2 weeks. The disorder, therefore, interferes with the normal activity of daily activities and influences the ability to take care of the newborn.
The exact causes of postpartum depression have not yet been defined, however, if the woman has previously suffered from a depressive disorder, the risk is greater. Many other factors may contribute to the onset of the disease: hormonal changes occurring during the puerperium (abrupt fall of estrogen hormones and progesterone), sleep deprivation, lack of support from the partner or family and genetic predisposition.
Post-partum depression can manifest itself with extreme sadness, irritability, crying without apparent motives, lack of energy, easy fatigue and reduced ability to think or concentrate. Headaches and myalgia, sleep disorders (insomnia or difficulty awake), loss of appetite or hyperphagia can develop. New mothers may have guilty feelings, low self-esteem, and loss of interest in routine business activities. Aggression, hallucinations, anguish, anorexia, asthenia, increase in appetite, reduction of sexual desire, palpitations, delirium, depression, difficulty of concentration, mood disorders, muscular pain, nervous breakdown, insomnia, hyperphagia, social isolation, lethargy, headache, nervousness, weight loss, mood swings, drowsiness, dizziness.
In relation to the newborn, women feel inadequate and show excessive anxiety, worry or disinterest. Postpartum depression also entails difficulties in interaction and attachment to the child, which can cause problems of cognitive, social, and emotional development. In some cases, postpartum depression even causes recurrent negative thoughts and increases the risk of suicide and infanticide.
Diagnosis is based on clinical evaluation. Post-partum depression is distinguished from so-called puerperal psychosis, a very rare and serious disorder. Women suffering from it have confusing states, severe mood swings and behavior, hallucinations, and delusions.
Treatment involves psychotherapy or antidepressant medication, taking into account possible side effects on the mother and baby, especially in the case of breastfeeding. In the absence of treatment, post-partum depression may spontaneously resolve or evolve in a chronic form.
Postpartum depression is not a weakness or a characteristic defect. Sometimes it is simply a complication of childbirth. If you experience postpartum depression, timely treatment can be helpful to keep your symptoms under control and to celebrate your child’s birth with full enjoyment.
The symptoms are different and depend on the type of post-partum depression. Symptoms of the so-called baby blues, which last only a few days up to a maximum of one to two weeks, may include: mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, crying, concentration levels, sleep disorders.
When experiencing a true postpartum depression, the symptoms may be similar to those of baby blues, but of greater intensity and longer duration, which sometimes interfere with the ability to take care of the baby or in the management of other activities.
Post-depression may be characterized by these symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Intense irritability and anger
- Heavy fatigue
- Loss of interest in sex
- Loss of enthusiasm for life
- Feelings of shame, guilt and inadequacy
- Severe mood swings
- Difficulty in bonding to your baby
- Isolation from family and friends
- Thoughts of getting hurt or hurting the baby
Postpartum depression, if not treated, may last for months or longer.
If postpartum depression evolves into post-natal psychosis or if after the birth of the baby goes directly to a postpartum psychosis (rare condition, but if it occurs begins in the first two weeks after delivery), the symptoms are even more severe and may include:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Allucinations and delusions
- Attempting to hurt yourself or your baby
Generally, if after the birth of your baby you feel depressed, you may be reluctant or embarrassed to talk about your mood.
It is important, however, to call your doctor if signs and symptoms of depression show some of these features:
- They will not disappear after two weeks
- Undergo deterioration
- They make it difficult for the new mom to take care of her baby
- There are thoughts of self-harm or hurting the child
There is no single cause responsible for postpartum depression; they can play a role in favor of the development of the pathology both physical factors, lifestyle and emotional state.
After the birth of your baby, a dramatic drop in hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) can contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by the thyroid gland may decrease drastically, leaving a feeling of tiredness, laziness and depression. Changes in blood volume, pressure, immune system and metabolism are additional factors that can lead to mood swings and fatigue.
When you go through a period when you have the right rest and you are overwhelmed by sleep, your daily small problems can also be difficult to solve. So, you may be worried about your ability to take care of the newborn; You may feel less attractive or struggling with your sense of identity; You can feel the feeling of having lost control of your life. All of these factors can lead to postpartum depression.
A demanding child or the presence of older brothers, breastfeeding difficulties, financial problems, and lack of support from partner or other affluent people can lead to postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can occur after the birth of every child, not just after the firstborn.
The risk increases if:
- There is a history of depression behind, both during a previous pregnancy and in other periods of life. You have been facing stressful events in the past year, such as complications of pregnancy, illness or loss of jobs
- There are problems in the relationship with your partner
- You are experiencing a period of financial problems
- Pregnancy has not been planned or is undesirable
- The risk of developing postpartum psychosis is higher in women who have bipolar disorder.
If you do not take care of your condition, postpartum depression may interfere with the parent-child bond and cause serious family problems. The children of mothers who did not readily care for postpartum depression would most likely have behavioral problems such as difficulty sleeping and eating, anger attacks and hyperactivity. It is also possible that these children are lagging behind in developing language.
Untreated post-natal depression can last for months or even longer; sometimes it can become a chronic depressive disorder. Even when treated, this disease may increase the risk that the woman may develop greater depression in the future.
In the event that there are evocative symptoms of postpartum depression, it is useful:
- Record each symptom experienced and how long it has occurred
- Record all medical problems, including other physical problems and mental conditions that have been diagnosed. Tell your doctor if you have already gone to some type of depression or other mental illness in the past
- Make a list of all the medicines you take, including medications, vitamins and supplements
- Find a trusted friend or family member to go to the first appointment so you can be helped in discussing all the written points
- Write questions you would like to ask the doctor
- Among the questions commonly asked by your doctor are:
- What is the diagnosis and what is the most appropriate treatment for the case
- Ask what are the side effects of the treatment we are being offered
- How and after how much time has elapsed since the beginning of the treatment is expected to improve the disorders
- Is that drug safe if you are breastfeeding?
- How long should you continue the therapy?
- Which lifestyle changes could help us manage the symptoms?
- How often do you have to make a check-up visit?
- If you can deal with other mental illnesses in the future
- Can you postpone postpartum depression even if you want other children?
- Is there a way to prevent it if you have other children?
- Are there any websites or information material from which you can inform?
Therapy varies based on the severity of depression and individual needs.
If you are in a so-called baby blues phase, this will usually disappear on your own within a few days, up to a maximum of two weeks. Meanwhile, you need to take as much rest as possible, accepting the help of family and friends. It is important to relate to other mothers and to avoid alcohol, which can make the mood swings worse. If you have a low thyroid, your doctor may prescribe replacement therapy.
True postpartum depression is often cured through proper counseling and therapy. As for counseling, it can be helpful to talk about your malaise with a psychiatrist, a psychologist or another figure who carries out a profession in the field of mental health. Through specialist advice, you can find a better way to cope with your feelings, solve problems, and reach realistic goals. Sometimes even a family or couple therapy can help.
Another possible solution derives from the use of antidepressant drugs, which are generally prescribed for post-partum depression. If you are still breastfeeding, it is important to know that any type of medication is administered, it will also go into breast milk. However, some antidepressants can also be used during breastfeeding because they have a very low risk of adverse effects on the baby. Obviously it is important to talk to your doctor to discuss possible risks and benefits associated with the use of specific antidepressants.
Another road that can be traversed involves hormone therapy. The pharmacological intake of estrogen could counteract the rapid decline of the natural counterpart that accompanies the birth of the baby, thus relieving the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression to which some women are encountering. However, research into effectiveness of hormone therapy in postpartum depression is still limited. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate with your doctor, as seen for antidepressant therapy, the risks and benefits to which you are going.
An appropriate post-partum depression therapy allows you to heal from this disorder in just a few months. Of course, in some cases the therapy lasts a bit longer. More importantly, it is important to continue it until you begin to feel better and it is the doctor himself to advise you. An early suspension of therapy can in fact be cause for relapse.
The more difficult it is to treat postpartum psychosis. In fact, it requires immediate hospitalization in a hospital facility. Once the patient’s safety is assured, a variety of drugs, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, can be administered to control signs and symptoms. Sometimes anticonvulsant therapy is prescribed, during which small, low intensity electrical shocks are applied to the brain to produce the same brain waves occurring during a seizure attack. The chemical changes that occur following the application of the electric current can reduce the symptoms of depression, especially when other treatments are ineffective or when immediate results are desired.
Lifestyle and home remedies for postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is generally not a condition that can be dealt with on your own, although it is possible to do something concrete for yourself to help build up your own therapeutic plan and make healing faster, such as:
Choose a healthy lifestyle
This includes regular physical activity, such as a walk with your baby to be included in daily activities. Healthy eating healthy foods and avoiding alcohol;
Be realistic expectations without putting pressure on yourself for everything you do
Resize your expectations about the existence of a perfect family life. Do what you can, letting the rest miss you. Ask for help when needed.
Take the time for yourself
If you feel like the world is against us, learn how to carve out your space, such as dressing, leaving home, visiting a friend or planning a little time alone with your partner.
When you are in a bad situation, focus your mind on a positive thought. Even if an unwanted situation does not change, you can change the way you think and behave accordingly: a short course of behavioral therapy can help you learn how to do this.
Avoid insulation. Talk to your partner, your family, and your friends about your state of mind and feelings. Ask other moms for their experience. Ask your doctor for information on the possible local support that involves group therapy for new mothers or women who have suffered postpartum depression. Remember that the best way to take care of your baby is to take care of yourself as well.
Natural remedies against depression
Apart from the serious forms of depression, where causes are very complicated and difficult to treat, there are also slight or minor forms, often due to internal patient conflicts, such as adaptation difficulties or existential vicissitudes. Phytotherapy is useful in these cases, since malaise never reach levels of total alienation (as in severe depression) and the symptoms are easily recognizable and treatable (pessimism, irritability, and discomfort prevail in these people).
Depression needs to be treated by doctors and psychiatrists, but minor forms can be successfully treated using phytotherapeutic remedies that, through clinical and diagnostic tests, have demonstrated positive feedback on treated individuals.
Treatment of depressive syndrome is mainly based on psychotherapy and drug therapy, which aims to increase the amount of neurotransmitters that can be used by brain receptors (IMAO, SSRI, SNRI, NASSA).
In mild forms of depression (mild to moderate depression), only some plants have actually been shown capable of acting on the symptomatology, thus benefiting the patient: primarily the hypericum, but still griffonia, rhodia, ginseng and eleutherococcus (used as a support). These phytotherapists, with mechanisms of action attributable to the various phytochemical components or more often to the whole phytocomplex, can be prescribed and recommended for therapeutic doses for long cycles, taking into account pharmacological interactions and contraindications.
Eleutherococcus (botanical name Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a shrub belonging to the family of the Araliaceae, about two meters high and native to the Northeast Asian regions. Referred to also as Siberian ginseng, eleutherococcus belongs to the category of plants with adaptogenic and antifactorial action. In addition to the aforementioned ginseng and azelutherococcus, echinacea (echinacea spp.), indian basil (ocimum sanctum) and rhodiola rosea (rhodiola rosea) are also included in the category of adaptogens.
The active principles responsible for the medicinal properties of the beuterococcus are concentrated in the root and belong mainly to the category of glycosides. These substances – also known as eleuterosides and designated by letters ranging from A to M – have varying chemical nature. There are also saponinic compounds (triterpenes and sterols), coumarins, flavonoids and polysaccharides (eleuterans).
Regarding the chemical composition of eleutherococcus, it was not possible to attribute the adaptogenic action to a single compound; Therefore, as is often the case with phytotherapy, this action is synergistic and is attributable to the whole phytocomplex. It is recommended to take 2 to 10 ml of 33% alcohol extract of eleutherococcus from one to three times daily, or from 2 to 4 grams of powdered root. Recruitment should continue for a variable period of 4 to 12 weeks, followed by 15 to 60 days of a hiatus.
Valerian, a natural drug that thwarts depression
Valerian (botanical name L. Valeriana officinalis) is a vigorous and perennial herbaceous plant, which grows spontaneously in humid and shady places, from sea to mountain, north-central Europe and north Asia. It is also cultivated in European countries and in Japan. Valerian flowers emanate a pleasant ethereal perfume, which is particularly attractive for the felines.
Valerian is cultivated in many countries around the world for medicinal purposes. The drug is made up of roots and rhizome, containing a large number of substances, including the vats (0.5-1.2%). These components are the basis for valerian phytotherapeutic properties. Unfortunately, they are unstable compounds and degrade easily when subjected to heat, moisture or acid pH. This fragility would explain the lack of stable therapeutic effects.
Valerian is commonly used as a sedative in sleep discomforts and disturbances, but also in agitation states. For this purpose, it is often combined with hop, lemon balm or other herbs that promote drowsiness. It is considered an alternative phytotherapy remedy or a method of reduction / elimination from pharmacological therapy (sleeping pills).
A further medical application of valerian is in psychosomatic conditions linked to anxiety and psychological stress such as: nervous asthma, hysteria, excitability, hypochondria, headaches and migraines, stomach acid and gastritis, emotional diarrhea and nervous colitis, some use valerian to reduce:, depressive symptoms, minor quakes, epilepsy, attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (adhd), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), muscle and joint pains, menstrual cramps and symptoms associated with menopause (flashes, irritability, etc.).
In depression episodes, the following doses 400-900 mg valerian extract, 2 hours before going to sleep for 28 days; 120 mg valerian extract with 80 mg lemon balm, 3 times daily for up to 30 days; 187 mg valerian extract with 41.9 mg hopper extract per tablet, 2 tablets for 28 days. Valerian intake should be taken from 30 minutes to 2 hours before bedtime.
Passionflower for depression
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is a perennial, climbing and branching herb plant, particularly known for its excellent sedative properties. The aerial parts of the plant are used for medicinal purposes, thus inflorescences, infruttescences and sometimes fragments of leafy leaves.
The components that characterize the passionflower are numerous and none of them seem to uniquely characterize the activity; the main ones are flavonoids – such as vitexin, isovitexin and hyperodose – small amounts of indole alkaloids, maltol and isomaltol (present in very low concentration but mentioned for documented sedative properties).
Passionflower is recommended for the treatment of nervous restlessness, especially if accompanied by anxiety, mood swings, and abnormal heart rhythm due to excessive tension, It is therefore particularly useful in mood disorders, which benefit from a natural treatment without the side effects of synthetic drugs. Passionflower is considered to be a relatively safe drug, with no acute and subacute toxicity. The herb may, however, overlap with the activity of centrally acting sedative substances, including ethanol, and – at excessive doses – cause sedation.
Passionflower is used for internal use, generally in doses corresponding to 4-8 grams of dry leaves and flowers, to be administered as infusion or in mother tincture drops diluted in a little water.
Chamomile belongs to the family of Asteraceae (Composite) and is currently widely spread throughout Europe, America and Australia.
Chamomile is used as spasmolytic (aqueous extract in the form of baths and infusions), anti-inflammatory and antibacterial (especially alcoholic extract). It is also used as a mild sedative to combat insomnia and anxiety, in the treatment of gastrointestinal, stomatitis and dermatitis, gynecological and pediatric use. Chamomile contains an essential oil, azulene with sedative action of the central nervous system, and a dicyclic ether that performs an antispasmodic action on the digestive tract. Chamomile is a popularly used drug: used as a mild sedative, it is considered a true medicinal plant.
Cure depression with hypericum (St. John’s Wort)
Hypericum is a real drug in the treatment of mild depression, which is used for this purpose only under medical prescription. The parts of interest, used for herbal preparations, are the flowered leaves and summits (application in the preparation of herbal teas: use 1-2 teaspoons of tops for 150ml of boiling water, leave in infusion for 5-10 minutes, filter and drink for a period of several weeks in the morning and in the evening).
Among the active principles of the hypericum there can be named: Naphthydrogens (hyperperin and pseudo-pipericin), flavonoids (hyperoside, quercitrine, isoquercitrine, routine), floroglucine (hyperforin and adipherin), xanthones, tannins, essential oil. Hypericlipicipipericine is considered the major active ingredient in the treatment of depression, together with hyperforin and flavonoids. Hypericum extracts are superior to placebo in the treatment of depression of mild to moderate severity, and for this indication are as effective as conventional antidepressants.
The hypericaphylic preparation seems to inhibit the recaptation of cerebral amines (serotonin and noradrenaline). Methanolic extracts of hypericin and hyperforin inhibited the synaptosomal capture of serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine and GABA in vitro.
The therapeutic indications of hypericum are symptomatic treatment of depressed states of mild to moderate severity and external wound treatment, burns and skin ulceration (hyperic ulcer). The recommended daily doses (900mg, or in any case 600 to 1200mg) for standardized hypericin extracts are equivalent to 0.2-2.7mg of hypericin. The effect of the hypericum manifests itself after 2-4 weeks of treatment (such as traditional drugs). Dry extracts and mother tinctures are generally well tolerated, even by the elderly patients. Lesser side effects, including skin rush, nausea, asthenia and restlessness, were observed at a rate ranging from 2.4% to 7.4% of the patients treated.
Hypericum is not recommended during pregnancy, childbirth and for pediatric use. Hypericum should be avoided while using other synthetic antidepressants (e.g. tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs), so as not to risk ‘serotoninergic syndrome’.
Hypericum is a potent inducer of the liver microsomal system (induces the cytochrome P450 isoenzyme activity), so it is not advisable to use hypericum when taking other medications that might reduce its effectiveness (e.g. ciclosporin, theophylline, benzodiazepines, farphars, indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine and phenobarbital, digoxin, antiemicranic, etc.).
Regarding photo-sensitivity induced by the presence of hypericin, two cases have been documented in humans: the first in a subject using hyperactivity for 3 years, while the second in a 35-year-old woman after 4 weeks of treatment developed a non-specified neuropathy. In both cases the symptoms were regressed following the discontinuation of the treatment. Other studies indicate that photosensitivity occurs at doses higher than the recommended dose.
Among the serious side effects due to the use of hyperactivity, some cases of ‘mania’ (e.g. a 20-year-old man with depressive manic psychosis) have been highlighted in phyto-vigilance – which had replaced the prescribed treatment for bipolar disorder with hypericum, at the commonly recommended dose of 90mg / day – manifested an episode characterized by extreme agitation, irritability, anxiety and insomnia).
When hypericum is used as a depression remedy, it is essential to use standardized and standardized pharmaceutical formulations (flavonoids, hypericin and hyperforin), the only ones that let you know how many pharmacologically active molecules are being given to the patient. It has been shown that hypericin is not essential for pharmacological activity, which is attributed to the whole phytocomplex, with particular reference to the group of flavonoids and hyperforin. Iperico oil is the traditional extractive form, useful as anti-inflammatory and scarring liner for external use. Tinctures have proved to be substantially empty of active ingredients, and therefore unnecessary.
Hypericum is absolutely contraindicated in combination with drugs such as ciclosporin (tadalafil), tacrolimus, digoxin, amprenavir, indinavir and other protease inhibitors (for AIDS), irinotecan and other cytostatic agents. The use of hypericum in combination with coumarin anticoagulants (Warfarin, Acenocumarol) requires regular monitoring of prothrombin time (INR). Caution in case of concomitant use with alprazolam, amitriptyline, fexofenadine, benzodiazepine, methadone, simvastatin, theophylline, midazolam, triptane, as it is possible to reduce the plasma concentrations of these drugs.
Hypericum reduces the therapeutic effect of oral contraceptives: reducing the plasma concentration of hormones contained in oral contraceptives taken at the same time as the hypericum, could favor the appearance of vaginal bleeding and unwanted pregnancies.
If used in conjunction with antidepressant drugs belonging to the class of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (e.g. sertraline, paroxetine, nefazodone) or buspuiron drug, hyperic may cause the onset of so-called serotoninergic syndrome (hypertension, tremors, hyperthermia, alterations mental state, agitation, up to coma in the most severe cases).
In view of surgery, the administration of hypericum should be discontinued at least 10 days prior to surgery, as the drug may interfere with the medicines used for general or local anesthesia. During treatment with hypericum, for its photosensitizing effects, avoid prolonged exposure to UV rays (sunlight and tanning lamps), especially in the presence of clear skin (increased risk of sunburn). In case of overdose, patients should be protected from sunlight or other UV sources for one or two weeks.
Diet and depression
Diet and our attitude to food influence and are affected by the mood. Depression is a mood-tone disorder that loses its physiological character of flexibility, is reduced and is no longer affected by positive situations. The typical symptoms of depression associated with dieting are: appetite alterations and weight loss (-5% per month), and, which is less frequent, the appetite increase with consequent increase in body weight.
The habit of including coffee and alcohol in the diet may adversely affect healing from depression. The depressed person tends to abuse certain substances in an attempt to relieve one’s own suffering.
Coffee has a psychostimulatory action and its repercussions on the nervous system (so on depression) are dose-dependent. In the majority of the depressed, the worst time of the day is the morning after awakening. Therefore, taking coffee in accordance with its own habits (but avoiding abuse), as well as normal, might also be helpful. Consumption in the evening must necessarily be avoided.
The diet should not contain alcoholic drinks, as the disinhibited action of this nerve worsens the emotional state of the subject suffering from depression. In addition, alcohol interferes with antidepressant therapies, worsening unwanted effects: weakness, drowsiness, arterial hypotension, and physical disturbances of various kinds. This results in a reduction in the effectiveness of the treatment.
Many other molecules present in the diet affect the brain and depression. This is the case of histamine, an exciting neurotransmitter that, if introduced in excess, can trigger severe headaches and anxiety, worsening the emotional state of the depressor (scombroid food poisoning). In foods, histamine is present especially in fish products such as blue fish and represents an index of poor conservation and bacterial contamination.
Also the high glutamate intake – another amino acid that acts as an exciting neurotransmitter as well as a food additive used as a flavor enhancer – can cause alteration and worsening of the mood, promoting neurovegetative crisis with profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache and tiredness (Chinese restaurant syndrome).
Thiramine is an amine derivative of the tyrosine amino acid and, in addition to being a marker of bacterial contamination, therefore poorly preserved, is present in good quantities in: cheese, processed meat, soy sauce, red wine, fish, chocolate, bananas and alcoholic beverages. It stimulates excessive redness of norepinephrine, facilitating pulsating headache, tachycardia and heat in the face. Both the side effects of excess glutamate and those associated with excess of tyramine in the diet may significantly worsen the symptoms of depression.