Mood disorders, depression

Mood disorders

Depression and Low Mood
How do I know if I am suffering from depression?

It is common to suffer from a mood disorder. About one in six people in England has a mental health problem at any given time. Nearly a third of G.P consultations are related to mental health problems and mood disorders are the most common category of nervous system imbalance found in herbal practise.


A person suffering from depression will experience either a loss of interest in the sort of everyday activities that they used to enjoy or a depressed mood, commonly felt as an absence of joy and at least four symptoms from the following list:

  • Weight or appetite changes
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Listlessness or fatigue
  • Difficulties making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Agitation or slowing of thought process
  • Suicidal thoughts


If you think you may be suffering from a mood disorder, and are 18 years or older, you may wish to access this online screening questionnaire. This is a private, self rated checklist for potential mood and anxiety symptoms. Your responses trigger a risk assessment page indicating your relative risk for depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was created by four American mental health specialists.


What causes mood disorders?

There are three main theories which often interact. In summary they are: an imbalance or shortage of the brain's chemical messengers (which can be triggered by hormonal changes), a genetic predisposition and the presence of environmental triggers including the number of stressful life events in the prior 6 months.

How can a Medical Herbalist help a person suffering from mood disorders

I suggest a 5 step approach:

1. Diagnosis
It’s important for both of us to understand what (if any) mood disorder you are experiencing. Medication is not always necessary or suitable and as you can imagine treatment plans will vary dependant upon diagnosis.

To do this as accurately as possible I utilise a questionnaire designed specifically for use by GP’s which has been backed by extensive research.

2. Identify contributing & remitting factors
During our consultation we will try to identify which aspects of your life help or hinder your mood. Self help strategies and techniques can really make a difference to some people.

3. Herbal Medicine

The key strategies for prescribing herbal medicine for mood disorders are:

  • To help rebalance neurotransmitters, (if antidepressants have not been prescribed),
  • To help balance the two components of the autonomic nervous system by promoting relaxation
  • To help reduce physical effects e.g. insomnia, appetite changes, palpitations.

Depending upon the person (constitution, cause, symptom pattern, use of other medications etc) and the diagnosis I will prescribe a tailor- made combination of herbs based on the fit of your needs and their therapeutic actions. During the consultation we will discuss each herb and rationale for choice.



I am a 38 year old mother of two young children. Due to financial pressures, I currently work full time and before I began to see Amanda, I had been finding it difficult to juggle work and home life. I came to see Amanda when I was at a really low point. I was feeling very depressed and anxious. I had also been suffering from constant sinus pain and congestion for years, which had been contributing to my low mood. I was feeling very run down, tired, uncomfortable and as if I was permanently coming down with a cold. I had been for several tests, but had finally been told that I had an unknown 'environmental' allergy, for which I had been prescribed steroid nasal spray, which I didn't feel was helping.

My friend recommended Amanda, having experienced fantastic results herself, so I emailed that day and I was surprised to get a phone call that evening, which in itself was a great help. Amanda recognised my symptoms immediately and I made an appointment to visit her Birkenhead clinic the next day. At my first appointment I sat in front of Amanda and cried, feeling as though I couldn't cope. She made me feel completely at ease and asked me a number of questions to get to the route of my problem. From exploring my concerns in depth Amanda recognised that I could be suffering from Dairy intolerance, which would explain my sinus and congestion problems. Amanda despatched a herbal prescription to my home address within a matter of days, which she designed specifically to address all of my symptoms.

Within a couple of weeks, I was noticing improvements in my sinus and congestion symptoms from steering clear of dairy, which in turn began to lift my mood. By the time I had my follow up telephone consultation four weeks after first starting my course of treatment, I was noticing dramatic improvements in my mood, my energy levels and my physical symptoms. I was sleeping better, thanks to a helping hand from Amanda's 'sleep mix', which I had taken for the first two weeks to help me re-establish a good quality sleep pattern. As a result, I was finding that I was much more able to cope with my hectic lifestyle and had much more patience with my children.

Now, two months on, everyone is beginning to notice how well I am looking and even how my voice sounds. For a long time, my voice was rather 'nasally', but now, even I can hear that it is clearer. I still have times when I get anxious and stressed, but until my lifestyle becomes less hectic, this is to be expected. I don't feel depressed any more and relationships with my family are much less strained. I am so thankful that my friend suggested speaking to Amanda and I thank Amanda for her understanding, her knowledge and her obvious commitment and dedication to improving the lives of her patients.



"I saw Amanda for a myriad of health problems, I felt extremely stressed after moving house and was suffering with IBS, breathing problems and depression. After seeing my GP so medical causes could be ruled out, i realised it was due to stress but didn't know how to tackle it.

Amanda took a detailed history where I spoke about what was bothering me. She prescribed a herbal remedy to support my whole system, which recognised how my symptoms were interrelated. Amanda also suggested I look at my diet to find out what may have been contributing to my IBS. I saw her during a 6 month period in which time my symptoms became less and less until they cleared. I've continued with the nutritional recommendations and I'm happy to say my symptoms haven't returned. Another benefit is the herbal medicine boosted my immune system and I've had less colds and illnesses this year."
M.K. Frodsham


Research evidence published in authoritive journals has supported the efficacy of herbal medicine in the treatment of mood disorders e.g. a review of 23 high quality trials, published in ‘The Lancet’, found one herb to be therapeutically equivalent to, but with fewer side effects than, antidepressants such as Amitriptyline.

4. Agree goals & review progress

During the initial consultation we will discuss how your mood is affecting your life. Out of this discussion treatment objectives usually become clear for example ‘to feel like my old self, to sleep till 6am’. Progress towards these goals is monitored and herbs and dosage will be amended as differing levels of recovery are reached.

5. Flying solo!

People find (after differing time lengths) that they feel stronger, more in control. At this stage consultations are less frequent and when appropriate the dose of herbal medicine is gradually reduced.

Please note: Herbal Medicine is most suitable for depression, stress related, and anxiety disorders. I suggest that you consult your GP is you suffer from Psychotic or eating disorders or Psychoactive substance (alcohol or drug) addiction.


If you would like to discuss any aspect of herbal medicine in more depth please contact me on 07985 200805.