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Natural Antidepressants

By Drs. Rick and Jan Hanson

Q I've been feeling down lately. Things that ought to be so nice are just blah, I'm really irritable, it's easy to get teary, and I feel SO worn out.

Because of the stresses and physical depletion that come - amidst all the wonderful parts! - with raising a family, about half of all mothers have significant feelings of sadness or depressed mood, and one in eight will go through a clinical depression. So if you are feeling blue, you are not alone.

Number one: Consider if you are clinically depressed, defined as experiencing five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer: depressed mood; loss of pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable; weight loss; insomnia or hypersomnia; intense restlessness or sluggishness; fatigue; strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt; hard to concentrate or make decisions; recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

If you fulfill these criteria or even come close, please contact a therapist immediately. Counseling is the fundamental treatment for depression, with the most penetrating and enduring results.

Now, if your mood hasn't fallen so far into the pit, but it nonetheless robs you of joy at a time that should be so wonderful, still think about counseling for support and developing psychological skills for handling stress and painful feelings. And of course, there are many methods for self-help without a counselor that are terrifically effective, such as those we've discussed in many columns (easily accessed on Further, our book, Mother Nurture, is truly a comprehensive resource for a mother's health, well-being, and teamwork and intimacy with her partner. On this foundation of growing mental health, add sensible physical interventions, ranging from just eating protein with every meal (especially breakfast!) to perhaps talking with a physician about antidepressants. Medicines such as Prozac, Zoloft, etc. can be real lifesavers, but they are also a very serious intervention, often with significant side effects.

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