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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are there any herbal supplement or lifestyle changes I could implement instead of taking anti depressants?

    I recognise the signs and symptoms from when I was depressed about 6 years ago (sadness, lethargy, fatigue, anti socialness/avoiding people and events). I used to take Lexapro 10 mg on and off for about 5 years but have been off it now for 12 months. I don't want to resume antidepressants as it made me nauseous and tired. Is there any herbal supplement or lifestyle changes I could implement instead? Sometimes the way I think at night time is a lot more negative than I have ever been before. My father died from a slow, painful and debilitating disease 18 months ago and this has really affected me.
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  • Jenna Ross


    Jenna Ross is a Psychologist in private practice in Sydney NSW.Jenna is experienced in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Solution Focused … View Profile

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father and the understandable grief you are experiencing.

    Regular exercise is a fantastic way to combat several symptoms associated with both depression and anxiety, the most importance of which is the release of stress and tension, and promotion of  the bodies natural anti depressant - endorphins.

    Additionally, the physical exertion will help you to sleep more soundly and thus rejuvinate your body during this time - the body works overtime when we are stressed or depressed just like when we are trying to fight illness - and so we need to make sure we give the body a break so it is able to handle the challenges tomorrow may bring.

    Another nasty symptom of depression is rumination (overthinking things). Regular rest and exercise can help us to be more motivated to engage in activities that will bring us joy, thereby helping us to be more positive and to escape the ‘black cloud’ that is characteristic of depression.

    Depression is cyclical in that it usually starts with one or two symptoms which result in the onset of others, for example we lose motivation to engage in our normal activities which results in negativity and over thinking, which results in difficulty sleeping and fatigue which makes us feel even less motivated to do things that make us happy and the cycle keeps going. The key is to break the cycle somewhere, and physical activity or exercise happens to tap into several of the problems at once, breaking the hold that depression seems to have over us.

    It is important to remember that for some people medication is necessary to break the cycle, and in some cases (for example due to biochemical causes) necessaryto reestablish regular function. There are also many different types of anti depressants and finding the one that suits you can make all the difference.

    If you have been prescribed medication by a Doctor DO NOT stop taking it without speaking to her/him first - abrupt cessation can do harm.

    There are a number of herbal supplements that may assist in boosting your resilience against some symptoms of depression, my advice would be to speak to a pharmacist to learn which ones might be best for you (some options might include valerian or st johns wort). 

    Best of luck to you!

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