A Note about Two Terms Used Often
in This Book
Not surprisingly in a book entitled Hypericum and Depression, the two major terms we must define are hypericum and depression.
We have attempted to make this book as accessible to the general public as possible. Only in Part Four, "Medical Studies on Hypericum and Depression," aimed at healthcare professionals, are medical and scientific terms used without full explanation.
Hypericum in this book sometimes refers to the plant Hypericum perforatum, but most often it refers to the specific extract used in the majority of studies on the use of hypericum in treating depression. Not all hypericum extracts are alike, and only a few extracting methods and pharmaceutical forms have been subject to medical investigation. (Please see the chapter, "Obtaining Research-Grade Hypericum.")
When we use depression, we mean either dysthymia, or a major depression in the mild to moderate range, or to a combination of the two (the dreaded "double depression").
There are many types of depression: bipolar illness (manic-depression), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postpartum depression, atypical depression, long-term low-grade depression (dysthymia), and major depression. (For a fuller explanation of the kinds of depression, please see our book, How to Heal Depression.)
Because most of the medical research to date has focused on the most prevalent forms of depressionmild to moderate major depression and dysthymiawhen we use depression in this book, we refer to only these two. This does not mean hypericum would be ineffective in treating other forms of depression; it's just that the results are not in yet.
Medicine further describes the intensity of a major depression as either mild, moderate, or severe. The vast majority of major depressions fall in the mild- to-moderate range.
A depression must be clearly debilitating to be termed severe. Severe depression can include hallucinations and, in some cases, suicide attempts. It may require hospitalization.
Although even the most severe forms of depression can be successfully treated, often with rapid results, it is essential for seriously depressed people to receive proper medical supervision.
If a depression is experienced most of the day, more days than not, and continues for more than two years, it's known as dysthymia. Thymia comes from the Greek word thumos, meaning "mind" or "soul." Dys is the same as the prefix disit implies an imbalance, a negation. Any young person will tell you that "being dissed" is not a pleasant experience.
Dysthymia, then, is an imbalance, a negation, of the human mind and soul. It can start in childhood and continue well into adulthood. Left untreated, dysthymia can last an entire lifetime.
Fortunately, hypericum has been shown to be as effective as prescription antidepressants in treating both mild to moderate major depression and dysthymia.
Copyright © 1996 by Harold H. Bloomfield, M.D. and Peter McWilliams