St. John's Wort and My Anxiety
The little yellow flower can pack a big punch to erratic emotions.
The day before Thanksgiving, the first rain of the season decided that going home early for the holiday would not be on my agenda. This rain was greasy from the campfire that recently ravaged Paradise, CA, and when a deer jumped in front of my vehicle, it aided in my inability to regain control of my tires. Instead of being comfy and home and plunging into a mug of spiked eggnog, I ended up plunging front-fender first into a tree. While this experience was far from being fun, I spent my Thanksgiving being grateful to be alive.
I am typically a resilient person, and I figured with the help of a four-day weekend and a supportive family, I would be able get back up on the hypothetical horse come Monday and drive the same road to work.
This was not as simple as I had hoped.
I found myself white-knuckling the steering wheel, and tears stung my eyes whenever I approached the spot that my rear wheels had lost control. The next day I tried a longer alternative way, only to experience the same intense emotions when seeing signs warning of deer crossing or icy roads. I spent the following week getting to work early in order to have extra time to cry out my stress before having to face my co-workers. When I was at home, I would become overwhelmed at even the simplest question, spending any extra moment I could in bed.
This was not a quality of life that I was satisfied with, and a solution needed to be found. I couldn't just avoid driving, and I refused to give up the job I love without a fight.
If you are like me, you like to steer clear of doctor's offices. The last therapist I visited shamed me in times where I needed support, and would often be late to our appointments. So, I decided to try a more over-the-counter approach. This led me to a supplement that I had heard mentioned before, but had never taken the time to research: St. John's Wart.
I discovered that the yellow-flowered plant had been used to treat nerve disorders and ward off evil since ancient Greece. Named for its peak harvesting day (St. John's Day, June 24), St. John's Wort contains hyperforin, which heightens the brain's serotonin and dopamine levels.
Recent research attesting to the effectiveness of the supplement has been vague at best. While St. John's Wort won't give someone the typical anti-depressant side effect of a lowered sex drive, it may make other medications less effective and create a serotonin overdose when the dosage is not followed.
Even with all of the unknown aspects of the supplement, my inability to snag a doctor's appointment within the next three months and my pressing need for relief prompted me to give the little purple pills a shot.
The first few days I didn't notice much of a difference, but by the end of the week, I definitely began to feel a stability within myself that I didn't think existed anymore. My moods have balanced out, despite the environmental circumstances that should logically be keeping me feeling erratic.
I am not to a place of even ground just yet, but St. John's Wort has proven to be a helpful tool in helping me regain emotional wellness. There is definitely something to the ancient little plant and its mood-regulating attributes. It is far from being a cure-all, and if you are suffering from severe depression please reach out to someone rather than depending on your own devices. There are so many people out there that want to help, and you are never alone.