Depression: Lifting the Blues

 Gloom and depression seem to be a common feeling this time of year for a lot of folks. It has been proven that the decrease in daylight actually brings about this temporary depression, the winter doldrums. SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is the name given to this type of depression. From October through March, the shortened daylight hours and cold weather may drive us indoors (or to warmer climates!) But take heart - there are many delightful ways for us to combat the blues until the winter solstice (December 22) rolls around and gradually brings back the daylight. 

The list of blues-lifters is practically endless, but for starters you may want to consider the following therapies to get those endorphins in motion:

  • Massage
  • Aromatherapy
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Heat and cold
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Light
  • Acupuncture
  • Therapeutic touch
  • Mind/body healing
  • Color
  • Music
  • Supplemental herbs
  • Homeopathy
  • Humor
  • Chocolate
  • .and many others.


Aromatherapy is a real natural for overcoming depression. A simple whiff of the pleasant scents of flowers and herbs can be exhilarating. Lavender, lemon balm, clary sage, and rose geranium all help to lift the spirits. Smell the fresh plant, or use the essential oils in a bath, or apply a drop to a tissue and inhale.

With some guidance from a naturopath or a good herbal text, you may want to supplement your diet with a few herbs. Be careful to verify the safety of the supplement if you are taking any medications. Just because a remedy is natural does not mean it is safe if used carelessly.

Herbal teas are warming and soothing. Ginger, with its uplifting flavor, lifts the spirits. Lemongrass tea combats depression and bad moods. Lemongrass can also be added to spiced cider for an emotional lift. Lemon verbena with its citrus aroma makes a refreshing tea that relieves depression and anxiety. Rosemary, as a tea or a cooking herb, is revitalizing as it wards off evil spirits and stress. Licorice tea, in limited amounts, is superb for battling depression. Saint John's Wort tea soothes frazzled nerves, depression, and insomnia.

Proper homeopathic constitutional treatment, under the direction of a qualified homeopath, can help even those who have been on antidepressants and other medications for a long time. Even though homeopathy has been known to reverse many long-term illnesses in an amazing amount of time, it would be unwise to expect this in all cases. The route and duration of cure are different with each individual, and many problems may coexist with the depression. Homeopathy may be used concurrently with many conventional medicines, but it is essential to verify this with the homeopath and/or physician. It is of utmost importance to continue with current medications until the homeopath deems it appropriate to reduce or discontinue them. The body needs a gradual decrease to gently let it down, but it is certainly worth the time it takes.

Bach flower essences, a collection of homeopathic-like remedies, can be used safely at virtually any time and circumstance, even with other medications:

Wild Rose is for the individual who is apathetic, has lost all hope, initiative, and energy, who may have gone beyond depression and feels hopelessly stuck, accepting his fate as a life sentence. Wild Rose revives the spirit and allows one to live life with joy again. It is often a long-term remedy, but is also useful in temporary lack of energy and low vitality.

Gentian is for the individual who is doubtful, easily discouraged, depressed from unfortunate circumstances, and even despondent. He feels dejected and has lost faith. Gentian allows one to see the light in the darkness, restores faith, and helps one reconnect with his higher self. Meeting obstacles with a positive outlook is possible once again.  

Rescue Remedy is a combination of five essences - Star of Bethlehem, Rock Rose, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and Clematis. It is the 'first aid' or emergency remedy, helping to quickly overcome the energy trauma resulting from shock, stress, bad news, and accidents. It restores the energy system to normal, allowing the healing process to begin.

For more suggestions, the Bach displays at your local health supply store have a brief questionnaire and guide to choose your own personal-formula flower essence.

And last but not least, try to smile. Rev up your sense of humor - smile, smirk, and get silly. A smile a day keeps the gloom away, and can lead to laughter. And laughter, as we all know, can be the best medicine.