St. John’s What?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. Everything in this entry should be treated as anecdotal evidence, although it seems to be working for me. Believe it or not, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

So what sorts of things have I been doing to combat depression? Well, I haven’t exactly been sitting idle, let me tell you (although sometimes I get dragged down more than I’d like to admit). The most public one, of course, is my writing. Putting my thoughts out there lets me avoid brooding on them over and over in the privacy of my own mind. But for the past few months, I’ve also been taking St. John’s Wort.

Now, I’ll admit to being skeptical, both of homeopathic remedies and traditional medication. I briefly tried Adderall in college for my ADD, but decided the side effects (e.g., practically falling asleep at the wheel as it wore of by 4pm) were too much to deal with. I’ll also admit to an internalized reservation about medications taken regularly, especially for mental issues, since there’s a huge cultural narrative that by doing so someone has “failed.” And homeopathy? Well, in the interest of full disclosure I did go through a phase where I bought into it, but now the idea that diluting something somehow makes it stronger (even to the point where there’s most likely no molecules of the original substance left) seems untenable.

That being said, there are of course “natural” remedies that have merit. Aspirin, for instance. Or Arnica. So I did some research, and apparently St. John’s Wort is actually prescribed in parts of the world to to treat mild depression. One of my friends had been using it, and had seemed to have some luck. So I thought “Hey, what’s the worst that could happen?” and decided to try it myself.

And having done so for several months at this point, I can safely say that I have noticed a difference. Not a huge one, of course; Prozac doesn’t exactly grow on trees and get ground up into herbal remedies. But I did notice that even if it didn’t stop me from getting low/depressed, taking St. Johns Wort seemed to lessen the depth of that despair. The Funks became shallower, more manageable. This was especially helpful since I’ve been getting up so early for work, and fatigue seems to be one of my triggers. So I’d take one capsule in the morning, and while I may still not do anything “productive” when I got home, at least I wasn’t lethargic and overcome with malaise. Just tired. And tired I can deal with. And I can definitely notice (sometimes too late, unfortunately) when I’ve forgotten to take a dose.

So there you have it. So far one capsule a day of St. John’s Wort seems to be working pretty well for me. Obviously, your mileage may vary, and you should consult an actual medical professional for qualified answers about treatment. Even though it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s inert; arsenic is natural, after all. But if you’re having issues with what you think might be mild depression, I can suggest trying St. John’s Wort, since it seems to be helping me.

3 thoughts on “St. John’s What?

  1. Mark

    Yeah, I’ve been going with this on the suggestion of Tanwen myself. I’ve not been the best with taking it regularly, mostly on the weekends or busy mornings. But it doesn’t seem to be hurting anything, and if it’s working, great! I should probably pay a bit more attention to it, but the days where I do take one in the morning tend to be a fair bit more productive as far as work is concerned. Just because we’re skeptical about it doesn’t mean it’s not true, after all.

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