A naturopath’s perspective on depression

Written by Cathy Vanzanden | 16 February, 2017

We all have days when we’re feeling a bit down, sad or not in the mood to be social. However, people with depression can experience these feelings constantly, for long periods of time, and sometimes without any apparent reason. Cathy Vanzanden gives her take on how naturopathy can help support medical treatment.

We all have days when we’re feeling a bit down, sad or not in the mood to be social. However, people with depression can experience these feelings constantly, for long periods of time, and sometimes without any apparent reason. If these feelings last more than two weeks and coincide with a loss of interest in work, hobbies, social events and a withdrawal from close friends and family, then depression may be present.  

Depression has the highest burden of all diseases in Australia affecting 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men in their lifetime, and yet in a recent national survey, more than half of those who had a depressive disorder in the previous 12 months did not receive any professional help. 

Symptoms of depression can include lowered mood, reduced self esteem, loss of interest and enjoyment in life, reduced libido, bowel disturbance, disturbed sleep and fatigue. Feelings that may be experienced include guilt, irritability, frustration, overwhelm, disappointment and sadness. Some of the factors that may contribute to depression include stressful life events, endocrine abnormalities such as thyroid imbalances, drug and alcohol use, serious illness, food allergies, chronic stress, genetic predisposition, cancer and side effects of medications.

There is a stronger association with nervous system disorders such as anxiety and depression in patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), with up to 70% of people with depression or anxiety also reporting digestive issues.

It is recommended you speak with your medical professional if you are concerned about depression, however here are a few naturopathic remedies that may help improve your condition in conjunction with professional treatment.

1. Exercise of any type is helpful to encourage circulation to the brain and provide enkephalins and endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters. Start with walking 15 to 20 mins in the morning, which also improves serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter.

2. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and recreational drugs, as these substances create disturbances in the neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain, which can contribute to imbalances. 

3. Yoga and meditation can be helpful to encourage vitality and connection to the self, as well as to learn to control the negative thought loops that occur with depression.

4. Social connection is incredibly important to our wellbeing. Even though you may not feel like socialising, reach out to those friends or family members that you know will be supportive. It’s okay to talk about the things that are troubling you. If you don’t feel that you can speak with family or friends, there are a number of support organizations that provide support 24 hours a day. 

5. Know that this moment in time will pass, and even though the world seems like a dark place, it won’t always be this way. Change is inevitable. People and jobs come and go. The river of life is constantly flowing, and there will be relief from the pain you are experiencing at some point.

6. Connect with nature. Our way of life is so far removed from where we are meant to be. We are constantly linked to computers, smart phones, television, living indoors, breathing in chemicals from man-made furniture and don’t always have the connection to the earth that we need to survive. Get into the forest, go to the beach, or even a short walk in your local park to get your feet on the ground and recharge.

7. Go out in the sun for 15 minutes every day. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with depression, and even though it is important to be sun smart, we still need the rays for our health and wellbeing.

8. Try to have a little fun. Embrace your silliness, dress up, dance, watch funny movies or comedy. Laughter also boosts endorphins and helps to lighten the load.

9. Use supportive self-talk. Be kind and loving towards yourself. You are a child of the universe and deserve to be here. You are loved and special exactly the way you are.


Cathy Vanzanden

Cathy Vanzanden is an Endeavour College of Natural Health graduate and Naturopath. She is passionate about the healing power of plants, not only on a physical level, but also an emotional, mental and spiritual level. Cathy has developed an Authentic Wisdom Vibrational Mists range, which evolved from combining her love of aromatherapy, flower essences and yoga philosophy. Visit her website for details on mobile naturopathic consultations and flower essence therapy.

Read more by Cathy Vanzanden