Counseling Sheet

Simple Depression

Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
Preventive Medicine

Two hundred million people in the world today suffer from depression [280 million, as of 2023, WHO]. Nineteen (19) million of those are Americans [44 million, as of 2023, Gallup]. As Asian countries westernize, their rates of depression increase correspondingly. The rates of depression have steadily climbed over the past 50 years, being much more common in those born after 1945 [1999], than those born before. The average age of onset is also decreasing, now in the mid 20s, whereas once it was in the mid 30s. Only a fraction of depressed individuals will ever seek professional help.


  • Fatigue: Since fatigue is the most common presenting symptom in any patient with depression, depression should always be considered in chronic fatigue. The fatigue of depression usually begins on awakening when the person is unable to drag themselves out of bed. The person gradually feels better as the day progresses. Conversely, the physically ill person usually feels better in the morning, but gets worse and worse as the day progresses. The depressed person may wish to be alone, but the sick person more likely desires companionship. The person feels sad, hopeless, and sometimes irritable.
  • Poor or increased appetite: Symptoms may include poor appetite with significant weight loss, or an increased appetite with significant weight gain.
  • Inability to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Anxiety or extreme sedation, restlessness or extreme motionlessness
  • Agitation or retardation
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Morbid thoughts
  • Apathy
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inability to think rapidly
  • Substance abuse: The depression may express itself as the onset of the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Loss of interest: Alertness, sharing of experiences, and interests in outside affairs wane.
  • Gestures disappear.
  • Sleep is not satisfying and dreams are disturbing.
  • Work becomes impossible.
  • Preoccupation with regrets about the past, disease, ruin, and death grips the person.
  • Delusion about ill health or financial calamity may occur.

Determining the Cause

Among the first things to look for in depression is that of a physical cause. Check all matters dealing with physical health: the diet, the exercise program, whether regularity is observed in sleep time, mealtime, whether fresh air and pure water are used, etc. Unhealthful lifestyle habits are a major cause of depression. Unhealthful habits affect the frontal lobe of the brain; and when this part of the brain is impaired, it can cause depression and emotional problems.

When depression occurs due to a situation that is recognizable, either the situation itself can be dealt with or the mind adjusted to deal with it in the most positive way possible. Do not allow chronic depression to take hold of the mind, as it can injure not only the mind but also the immune system, and reduce the resistance against disease. Once being depressed becomes a habit, the mind defaults into a depression about things over which there should be no cause for depression, such as a beautiful sunset or a newborn baby.

Information Overload

Information overload is one of the factors contributing to depression. Americans watch between four and seven hours of television every day. Television viewing has an insidious effect on our culture, reducing tolerance for frustration; after all, in "TV-land" any major problem can be resolved in about 30 minutes. TV devotees can lose perspective as to what is reality, and they erroneously conclude that their lives must be inferior, since their own problems are not solved in 30 minutes.


Adrenal exhaustion from stress may represent a portion of the cause of major depression and suicidal behavior. A study done on suicide victims showed a hypertrophy of the cortex of the adrenals in suicide victims, compared to those dying of other causes. For individuals under extreme stress, the use of licorice root tea might be very helpful, as it improves the functioning of the adrenals (American Journal of Natural Medicine. 2(3):14; 1995).

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions are known to increase the risk of depression:

  • Lupus
  • AIDS
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Senile dementia or Alzheimer's
  • Diabetes
  • PMS
  • Sleep disorders
  • Thyroid disease
  • Cancer
  • Parathyroid disease
  • Head injuries from sports or accidents
  • Use of legal or illegal drugs

Natural Treatments for Depression


  • Wet Sheet Pack: Cold, wet sheet packs can be very helpful for agitated depression. The single layer wet sheet is laid on a plastic shower curtain on a bed and wrapped around the patient, trying to cover every inch of skin from the collar bones down (See the book Home Remedies by Dr. Agatha Thrash for the method.). This treatment can be effective when all other treatment modalities are ineffectual (Hospital and Community Psychiatry. 37(3):287;1986). Sometimes a wet sheet pack can offer sufficient physical restraint and enough sedation to replace the use of medications.
  • Neutral Bath: A continuous neutral bath at about 97-98 degrees Fahrenheit, at the same time making sure to keep the head nicely cool, will calm many an agitated patient.
  • Hot Bath: Whole body hot baths can cause a significant improvement in depression (International Journal of Hyperthermia. 8(3):305; 1992). Perform the bath daily for five days, skip two days, and give a second and then a third series of five baths. Get the mouth temperature up to 102ºF.

Dry Brush Massage

Use skin stimulation with a stiff brush before the daily cool shower. See "Brush Massage" in the book Home Remedies by Dr. Agatha Thrash for the technique.

Personal Habits

Make a list of the lifestyle changes you need to make, in order of importance, and enlist the support of those around you to keep yourself on track. Make it your studied plan to live according to the eight laws of health every day. Good lifestyle habits enhance frontal lobe function.


Regular exercise is one of the most important and powerful natural antidepressants we have. Getting plenty of exercise reduces anxiety and tension. Seventy-five percent of persons with depression in a large study showed improvement with jogging. They approached life more optimistically and reported that running gave them more control over their lives, reports Dr. Keith Johnsgard, Professor of Psychology at San Jose University. Even deep breathing exercise carried out twice daily can lift a gloom from the spirits.


Lifestyle and dietary factors are important in depression. A high protein diet increases one's likelihood of being irritable, having mood changes, and depression (Medical Tribune. April 4, 1996). The most favorable diet for depression is a totally vegan vegetarian diet, low in free sugars and free fats, but containing daily foods from the four basic food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts or seeds. Hypoglycemia is a common condition among depressed individuals.

Avoid crash diets for weight reduction. Depression often follows such programs. Maintain a regular meal schedule and never eat even a peanut between meals.

Check the transit time by using three tablespoons of moistened sesame seeds. It should be less than 30 hours from the time the sesame seeds are taken until the last of the seeds appear in the stool. The average American has a transit time of more than 80 hours. If the transit time is prolonged, take natural measures suitable for constipation.

The use of oats in any form will usually help in depression: oatmeal cereal, oat burgers, oat waffles, oatmeal gruel, broth, or tea.

Fatty Acids

Depression may result because of the wrong kind of fatty acids comprising the cell membranes of nerve cells in the brain. All cells throughout the body are enveloped in membranes composed chiefly of essential fatty acids in the form of phospholipids. The type of phospholipid in the cell membranes of the brain is determined by the kind of fat eaten in one's food. If the phospholipid is composed of saturated fat or trans-fatty acids, the structure of the cell will be markedly different than if the membrane contains omega-3 and omega-6 oils. If the cell membranes are stiff, the brain is less likely to function properly; therefore, the diet can impact behavior, mood, mental function, etc.

The following foods are high in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Green soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Avocados
  • Almonds.

Omega-6 rich foods include safflower, sunflower, corn and sesame oils.

Coffee is an important cause of depression with [still in 2023] an estimated 450,000,000 cups of coffee each day consumed in America. About half of the population between 30 and 60 call themselves coffee drinkers, making coffee the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. [Today, 86.4 % of US adults 60 years old and above are coffee drinkers.] About 30% of Americans [26%, in 2023] smoke at least half a pack of cigarettes daily. Cigarettes are also known to be associated with depression. Around ten percent (10%) of Americans are addicted to alcohol, also strongly associated with depression. Up to 33% of our population consumes more than four alcoholic drinks daily; and one-third of high school seniors are binge drinkers. Thus we can urge that coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, tobacco, and alcohol be omitted in the treatment or prevention of depression.

Food Allergies

Even the vegetarian diet must be checked for foods to which one may be sensitive, as food sensitivities are more commonly involved in depression than has been formerly realized. Carefully perform an Elimination and Challenge diet. (For instructions on this diet see the book Food Allergies Made Simple or request the “Elimination and Challenge“ diet sheet from Uchee Pines Institute.)

Vitamins and Supplements

Nutritional deficiencies and related factors are also important causes of depression. The deficiency of several vitamins is also known to cause depression. These include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, biotin, pantothenic acid, B6, B12, and vitamin C. These vitamins can all be obtained from fruits and vegetables, particularly when fresh, or when cooked nicely so as not to damage the tender vitamins, such as thiamin and riboflavin. Vitamin B12 must be taken as a supplement from a pill, preferably one that can be chewed for two minutes (there is a salivary factor which activates the B12) (American Journal of Natural Medicine. 2(10):10-15). Do not take a B12 supplement containing over 250 micrograms at one time, as too much can interfere with melatonin production. When depression and anxiety are quite severe and hospitalization appears imminent, it is often possible to avoid hospitalization by injection every other day, ½ cc of vitamin B12 and 1-1/2 cc of vitamin B complex. In addition to the injection, certain herb teas for sleep should be given such as hops, valerian, and passionflower, in double strength. Pray earnestly with the patient.

Lithium, magnesium, and iodine may be low in persons suffering from bipolar states. These minerals should be emphasized by eating foods high in them. Green peppers and potatoes are good sources of lithium. Lima beans, broccoli, chard, okra, plantain, spinach, cashews, and artichokes are high in magnesium. The following foods contain iodine: kelp, agar, the brassica family (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower), soybeans, sweet potatoes, lima beans, corn, millet, and iodized sea salt.

In elderly people, a deficiency of folic acid may be a part of the whole picture that results in depression. Many patients with psychiatric disorders are low in folic acid (Nutrition. 16:544, 2000). Chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lentils, red kidney beans, navy beans, spinach, mustard greens, Spanish peanuts, and fresh orange juice are all excellent sources of folate.

CoQ10 is good for depressed patients.

Phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, plays an important role in mood and helps maintain blood levels of endorphins. L-phenylalanine is metabolized into tyrosine (a nonessential amino acid) in the body. Phenylalanine and tyrosine are converted into the neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline, and adrenaline. These neurotransmitters play a role in regulating mood and attitude, and low levels have been linked with depression. Tyrosine (found in soybeans and wheat germ) can elevate the mood of elderly people, relieve dizziness, normalize blood pressure, and improve the appetite (Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior. 47(4):935-41; 1994).

For depression try a phenylalanine intake sufficient to provide 30 milligrams, such as is found in the following foods:

  • Green beans (6 T.)
  • Beets (6 T.)
  • Raw cabbage (8 T.)
  • Carrots (8 T.)
  • Celery (3 small stalks)
  • Cucumber (2/3 medium)
  • Lettuce (4 leaves)
  • Spinach (3 T.)
  • Winter squash (6 T.)
  • Summer squash (8 T.)
  • Tomato (4 T.)
  • Apricots (8 halves)
  • Banana (1 medium)
  • Cantaloupe (1 cup)
  • Dates (4)
  • Grapefruit (2/3 cup)
  • Oranges (2 medium)
  • Lemon juice (6 T.)
  • Peaches (2 medium)
  • Pears (3)
  • Pineapple (3 slices, canned)
  • Prunes (4 large)
  • Raisins (4 T.)
  • Cooked whole grain cereals (2 T. dry)
  • Irish potatoes (2-1/2 T.)
  • Sweet potatoes (3-1/2 T.)
  • Olives (6 large)


Serotonin is a brain neurotransmitter that plays a key role in elevating one's mood. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. Foods containing sufficient amounts of tryptophan, such as black-eyed peas, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and tofu are needed as raw materials for the body to use in making serotonin.

A case of depression treated with pumpkin seeds was reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry in 1990. One and one half grams of L-tryptophan per day can often abolish depression. About 3/4 cup of pumpkin seeds will contain about one gram of L-tryptophan (British Journal of Psychiatry. 157:937-938, December 1990). Do not take this many seeds at one meal, however, since they are very rich.

Try taking one tablespoon of honey half an hour before bedtime and repeat at breakfast to increase the serotonin in the brain.


  • St. John's wort and ginkgo have been proven helpful with memory impairment, depression, anxiety, and other common psychiatric disorders (Archives of General Psychiatry. 55:1033; 1998). A universal remedy, St. John's wort tea, one cup four times a day, can be most effective. It should be kept up, as its effects increase as time goes by. St. John's wort can cause photosensitivity and then the skin will be very sensitive to sunlight. When using it, be careful not to get too much sun (Jude's Herbal Home Remedies. Jude C. Williams, M.P.H. 1996, Llewellyn Publications, P.O. Box 64383-869, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383).
  • Ginkgo biloba is very helpful in treating depression, particularly in the elderly, but also in younger patients. Ginkgo biloba extract or tea contains flavone glycosides and terpenoids, which are very useful not only in depression but also in cerebrovascular insufficiency, senility, Alzheimer's disease, impotence, vertigo, tinnitus, peripheral vascular insufficiency, Raynaud's syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and vascular fragility. Many of these diseases are associated with depression.
  • Some of the herbal teas such as sage, catnip, mint, or alfalfa can be helpful in depression. Use one cup in the morning and one at night.
  • Skullcap and valerian are very useful on a daily basis. For the acute phase or for severe symptoms, use blue verbena and European mistletoe. The recipe for blue verbena tea is one tablespoon of the root, boiled gently in two cups of water for five minutes. For mistletoe tea, use one teaspoon of the herb in one cup of boiling water and steep for 20 minutes (do not boil). Use half a cup of the verbena and one cup of the mistletoe every two hours as needed for control of symptoms.
  • For postpartum depression use chaste berry, raspberry leaf, nettles, motherwort, and dandelion leaf and root.


The clinical condition of ten patients with major depressive episodes was improved through the application of citrus fragrances. A reduced dose of antidepressants could be used, and a normalization was found of the immune functions (natural killer cell activity and cortisol levels in the urine) (Japanese Journal of Psychiatry and Neurology. 48(3):671; 1994).

Light Therapy

Bright lights were applied to 30 patients for depression. Twelve experienced improvement of mood during the bright light therapy, while 18 did not improve. The results of an experiment showed a subgroup of patients with major depression making a more pronounced light-associated improvement in heart function than other depressed patients and controls (Journal of Affective Disorders. 34:131; 1995). Since sunlight boosts serotonin levels, it is likely that this therapy works by elevating serotonin levels.

The depressed person should be put to bed in a darkened room two to three hours earlier than the usual bedtime, and seven or eight o'clock in the evening is probably ideal. The house must be made quiet and dark, and all activity cease.

Arise seven to nine hours later and begin some preplanned activity, the best being purposeful labor. This activity should be in very bright light. If labor is not available or practicable, use gymnasium exercising. Regularity in all things must become a study. A large part of depression is a sickness of the brain center controlling the circadian rhythm or biologic time clock. Adjusting the hour of bedtime in this way has cured many cases of depression. Get plenty of sunshine, generally while fully clothed. During the day, keep bright lights blazing in the portion of the house the depressed person stays in.

Three to five million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorders (SAD). Reduced availability of sunlight leads to an imbalance of brain chemicals resulting in depression. Exposure to high levels of artificial light can restore the balance of brain chemicals in many of these people. Women are three or four times more likely to get this disorder than men. It usually starts after puberty and diminishes after menopause.


Depression in both children and adults can be treated with daily massage. It can be curative in some cases. Cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, is decreased by massage. A full body massage, or even a backrub or foot rub, three to five times a week stimulates the production of endorphins and reduces tension.

Physical Exercise

Getting plenty of exercise reduces anxiety and tension and raises the serotonin level. Deep breathing exercises carried out twice daily can lift the gloom from the spirits. Hold the head high, put a smile on the face, and square the shoulders.


Control sexuality. Many have no extra strength to use in this direction. Masturbation must be strictly avoided.

Amalgam Fillings

Eleven manic depressed persons had their amalgam fillings removed, and nine subjects with amalgams were told they were being treated, but were given a placebo or a sealant. Depression and hypomania scores improved significantly, as did anxiety, anger, schizophrenia, paranoia, and many others with amalgam removal, compared to the sealant-placebo group. There was a 42% decrease in the number of physical health problems after amalgam removal compared to an 8% increase in physical symptoms in the placebo-sealant group (Journal of Ortho-molecular Medicine. 13(1):31-41, 1998).

Spiritual Exercise

Develop a program of guided Bible study and daily prayer. Learn to control the thoughts and to dwell on heavenly themes. A Bible correspondence course can be obtained from Amazing Facts, P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, CA 95678-8058, phone 916-624-3500.

Control talking carefully. Not too much and not too little, and only about cheerful subjects. Courage, hope, faith, sympathy, love, and patience promote health and prolong life.

Works of charity have a marvelous effect on gloomy spirits. Seek out the widow and orphan, the lonely or bereaved, or the homesick student. Give a backrub to a weary shut-in.

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Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center
30 Uchee Pines Road #75
Seale, Alabama 36875