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Depression and tea- does it help you?

So… this is not a topic I discuss freely in most cases but I could use some perspective here and since I don’t really know most of you in person (and those that I do, well I know you won’t judge!)
Anyhow, I’ve had depression for most of my life, even as a kid. It wasn’t until maybe five years ago that I understood that. I thought I was just lazy, unmotivated, incompetent etc. but then I went into a remission of sorts and things got better for awhile.
Since then, it’s come and gone like a hurricane that sweeps in, spews it’s havoc and then dissipates just as quickly.
Lately, I’ve been able to handle it better- I suppose being self aware helps… but even still, it is so disheartening that nobody I’ve told seems to see it, or understand- because I guess I just hide it well.
The incredible sadness, the heavy limbs, the lack of will to do much of anything besides watch my television or sleep… and the random outbursts of tears (don’t get me started). It wears a girl down!
I do have hope though… because in my gut I “know” that this is somehow linked to my thyroid. Yeah, that’s probably wishful thinking but I’ve been confirmed to have Hashimoto’s before and I do present with other symptoms as well.
So here is my question- does anyone else here have depression? and does tea help at all? How else have you dealt with it?
If this is a thyroid issue, I know this can be fixed with natural remedies. However if it’s just regular ol’ depression, I really do not want to take any meds so I could really use some suggestions.
(I’ve tried the regular exercise routines, eating right etc)
Sorry if this is TMI for anyone who passes by this post…
If anything, I’d love to “meet” some fellow sufferers for moral support.

Life is beautiful, hard and worth it- I think we all need to remind each other of that sometimes.

43 Replies
MaddHatter said

I have a client (parent of a child in my care) who has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and she does tend to respond better to set dietary routines or needs. She hasn’t mentioned anything else other that I have noticed there are days when I keep her kids disciplinary stuff at work, because it would be too much.

Other than that I do find that tea has a more stabilizing effect for me on bad days, or moments when I need to stop and relax.

Gluten and sometimes dairy tend to be major factors in Hashimotos, affecting something like 80% of those afflicted… so you are right on in that a set dietary schedule helps MadHatter :)
In my house, that just isn’t happening. I so badly need to move out, but also need a permanent job first… so until then I’m making do.
I find it stabilizes me to most of the time, making everything just seem less dramatic and critical. Except lately I’ve lost my taste for black tea… I know caffeine works against the thyroid when it’s in distress so I’m laying off for now. (except green tea, apparently that is ok. I’m assuming the same goes for white as well)
Anyhow, thanks for your thoughts MadHatter. raises cup

Chantra said

Hi there Indigo Bloom. Hope you are well. I too face depression that comes and goes like it’s nothing. I’ve been feeling depression at a very young age and I tend to hide so well until on my 19th birthday, I was overwhelmed with emotions and lets say it didn’t end well with me and my family.
I know this might sound crazy but I’ve spend my whole life using tea as an outlet to relive my depression. It’s a form of enjoyment and it makes me forget that feeling. Recently I’ve been feeling the blues more than ever so one day I went to “Grocery Outlet” and saw Taja Tea Saffron tea with Earl Grey. Listed on the box said it helps with depression and for some odd reason, when I drink it, I feel better for the next 2 days. Not saying it’s a cure but I believe that there is something significant about. I know I might still have to see a doctor about it but tea is like my outlet and hobby that does make me feel happy and proud that I am alive to sip such a good cup of tea.

Hi Chantra, I must say… I am a bit depressed this weekend. I’m down with the flu, and haven’t done much of anything besides watch tv and sleep. I did make some tea but couldn’t really taste anything- oh well!
Ya know, I’ve heard that about Earl Grey! If only I wasn’t intolerant to the oil… but then I’ve heard that about other types of tea as well so all is not lost for me and tea :)
I think you’re on to something anyhow… cuz after I have a satisfying cup of tea, I feel on top of the world! and if I manage to get more than one steep out of it, well then I’m flying!
As for meds, I’m doing everything I can to stay off them :)
Thanks for sharing Chantra, I’m touched that you did

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Yes, like you, I’ve been depressed my whole life. I didn’t fully understand it either (I probably still don’t, but my understanding is greater now) until a few years ago when I underwent a series of tests that confirmed that I suffer from severe clinical depression as well as agoraphobia.

Does tea help? Hmm… well, I can’t say for sure if it does or does not. But what I do know is this: tea makes me happy (or as happy as I’m able to achieve). Somehow I feel more complete when I have tea. Do I still suffer from my depression, yes. But, it is not quite as dreadful with tea in my cup.

hugs
I don’t understand it either, not really… and I’m so very sorry to hear about your situation.
I keep hoping that I’ll find this miracle tea which will make everything better and solve my troubles. (well I did but now it is out of stock)
Atleast I can take comfort in the warm liquid and hope for the future. I so agree, things are just better with a cup in hand

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Ok, I’m actually embarrassed to post such a lengthy response, but what the heck!

I read this just before dinner, and my mind has been going bonkers with how to respond. I could literally write a novel about this issue; I almost have. : – }. Alas, I don’t have the time and energy to at just this moment (or I thought I didn’t), so keeping it as short and sweet as I am able will have to suffice for now. I will try to stick to answering your questions. I will also reveal a little about myself in answering your questions, as I judge—-which is a more honest and direct way of saying, ‘in my opinion’—-that helps to answer your “I’d love to ‘meet’ some fellow sufferers” request you made at the end of your original post.

I am honored by your choice to invite us more deeply into your life. I judge you have great courage (I hope you see that as a ‘good’ judgment!). I hope my response honors your choice.

I am a fellow sufferer. I could write volumes here. Maybe later. But I will say things weren’t looking too good for me about this time last year. Yet now, hope abounds! Tea was—-and still is—-one important component of my recovery.

As to the answer to the question of how else I have dealt with it (I’ll answer the tea one below), well, for the moment suffice it to say that I practice Yoga and do other ‘conventional’ things—-as you have mentioned—-to stay healthy (i.e. eat a balanced diet, get regular sleep, exercise, etc.). Journaling has helped me on occasions. I am a part of a kind of support group, which helps a lot. I may say more about this at a later time.

I have also found that most, if not all, of the people who do not suffer from it do not completely understand it, because, at least in part, I judge, one has to experience it directly to really understand it. Although it’s different than understanding depression, others can at least accept it (I don’t believe my wife completely understands my depression, but I definitely feel accepted by her, which is very important to me; and most of the time, that’s enough).

And finally, Yes! The tea certainly helps me to at least ‘manage’ my depression. I don’t know if you are aware of the substance called theanine that is in tea. I have done lots of research (information based on studies) on how it affects the human body and how to get the most of it out of tea (and would be happy to share some links to websites if you want). In general, it is purported to help in calming and focusing the mind and body; apparently it does this by helping to increase levels of Serotonin (helps with depression) and Dopamine (gives a general sense of well-being) in the body. It does other things, too, but those are the parts that help with depression.

So how do I use this to my advantage? My goal is to drink enough to get at least 50 mg into my body twice a day (it is purported to stay in the human body from roughly 6 – 9 hours). Studies have shown that subjects have reported a feeling of calmness with as little as 50mg (I have read 50mg – 200mg is enough to have an effect on the human body). I have also read that the average cup of green tea yields about 10mg, and that it can be as high as 50mg per cup.

I have tried to find out how the different factors ultimately affect exactly how many mg of theanine are in my cup, but to no avail. So I finally resolved that my best barometer would be personal experience. Yet, I have tried many different green teas, and it is difficult to say if any one helps more than another (there’s the whole placebo effect thing that I can’t overlook here).

So here is how I look at getting the most theanine out of my cup of tea. My understanding is, generally speaking, the fresher the tea, and the higher the grade it is, the more theanine you get out of it. So I focus on freshness first, then quality. I am on a limited income, so I can’t afford the highest quality. But there are a number of inexpensive green teas that are also fresh (I am currently seeking out more). Gyoruko is known for having high theanine content. I was fortunate enough to get a great price on some, and now I drink it every morning before I go to work, and I drink two to three cups at lunch, and then another four in the late afternoon/early evening. That way, even if I’m only getting 10-15 mg per cup (I suspect it’s more), I’m keeping at least 50 mg in my body all day long.

Does it help? I believe it does, and that may be the most important thing (I could really go deep on this particular point, but I’ll let it alone).

Well, that’s enough for now. Thank you so much for stepping into your courage and posting your question.: – )

Wow SimpliciTea, you have blown my mind. Thank YOU for coming forward here, I may have taken the plunge but now it seems so have you. The honour is reciprocal. :)
Liberating isn’t it? Don’t mind my equally long reply now! :P
I to am a habitual yoga-phile… however circumstances in my life have prevented me from practicing as often as I need- there is no excuse I know, but I’m taking a stand now… after this weekend, the worst I’ve had in a very long time, I need to do something about it… and with yoga, it’s two birds with one stone, kindof. It makes the thyroid and depression issues abate somewhat, however until I reset the thyroid, it does little to nothing for my weight, muscle toning etc so keeping it up will be a mental challeng of sorts.
Do you journal online? I blog as well, at Thoughts.com under the handle Azalia… though I’ve marked my darker posts as private for now. It got me through a time that otherwise would have been too much for my meagre self (at the time) to handle.
The friends I met there were invaluable but the place has since changed into somewhere I no longer feel at home. I’ve come to regard Steepster as such in a way, though it’s frustrating being limited to topics around tea.
I can see that it’d be hard to understand what it is to be depressed without experiencing… and I’ve found some acceptance but only on a very surface level. More of a “I’m really sorry to hear that, is there anything I can do? no? are you sure?? well ok then…” and then, that’s it. No follow up or hug or acknowledgement when I’m having a terrible day.
Oh and a friend of mine has chronic depression, but he is just as aloof! I have my theories on that but it isn’t for this place…
Anyhow, I believe that Mum can see something is amiss, and in her own way does what she can to support me… but it’s all under the radar, unspoken and such.
Now, about the TEA!
I did know about theanine but I wasn’t sure if it was truly effective in lifting one’s mood. Like you said, it could be acting as a placebo.
Now, if it does work… I wonder if that has helped me to stave off the depression for as long as I have. It’s been creeping up on me in what I feel is an odd manner the last few months… not following the pattern that I’m used to.
and wow, that is alot of tea! Do you not get dehyrdated? I find that is my main barrier in consuming more tea… that, and the constant shuffling to and fro the kitchen while at work. I manage, on a good day, one cup in the morning at work, sometimes with a resteep, and then another in the afternoon, with maybe one or two resteeps of that. I’m not sure how much theanine a resteep yields but I imagine it isn’t much.
I’m trying hard to like green tea these days. It isn’t easy! Black is my go to drink but as stated above I really can’t partake for a few weeks… the withdrawal is awkward. That sad, I may go cold turkey for a little while just to calm down my adrenals and kick everything into gear again. If I’m lucky, my vitamins, yoga, and diet will reset me back to normal. If not, I’ll have to spend a small fortune to make it right again. It will be rough. Herbal teas just aren’t the same! Does decaf tea still have theanine in it, I wonder? Probably not. Hmmm. Or Oolong…
Freshness really makes the difference huh? uhoh! haha. Many of the teas I have are older now, since I tend to buy them and try them… and then flit to something else. Now that I’m saving up to move out and travel, I’m trying to spend less on tea as well… since it had gotten very much out of hand, sucking up my monthly savings etc. I’m setting a much smaller tea budget these days, despite my chagrin.
If I find a good gyoruko, I may pick some up… anything for the cause right? perhaps I can wean myself off the tea that way. The afternoon sleepy zone I’m prone to will be impossible to get past I think!
I’m so glad to have heard your POV SimpliciTea, I really do appreciate your input and words of wisdom. I feel heartened knowing there is a kindred spirit of sorts out there.
Alas, I am off to slumber…

I don’t have the time or energy I had last night, but I want to at least respond to your questions. I started following you, I think some things I want to mention on this topic about aren’t quite fitting for Steepster, and are better left ‘offline’ (mentioned in a PM) that is, if you choose to follow me. If you don’t want to, that’s OK too. : )

When I get around to it, I do want to start my own blog. Until recently I have been journaling for years in a diary, and in the last five years on my computer. I find that it can be very therapeutic.

I do not get dehydrated (at least not that I know of). I guess you are referring to the diuretic effect of green tea. The only side effect for me is that I have to, you know, go a lot, and that’s sometimes hard when I am at work and I can’t get to the bathroom.

On days when I work I brew up two pots of tea the night before, and allot four cups for the morning, and two to three cups to take with me to work (I really can’t brew tea at work). Then when I come home I brew up the third steeping and drink it (I am also not sure how much theanine you get from later steepings. I tried to get info on that in my research, and all I can gather is it depends on how water-soluble it is. I go on the belief that it cuts in half every time I brew it, which may or may not be correct).

My research lead me to believe that green tea has the most theanine of all the classes of true tea (but there are exceptions to this).

Does decaf tea still have theanine in it, I wonder? I don’t think being caffinated makes a difference one way or the other.

Some other time I can get you some information about how the freshness affects theanine. I can’t remember the details just now. But that’s my understanding, at least.

I’m sorry to hear you have mostly found surface-type acceptance. I have faced a little of that too, when I do open up about my depression. I think in part, depression scares people, since we are so often afraid of what we don’t understand (I admit that I am afraid of some things I don’t understand). So most people don’t want to talk about it, especially to someone who admits they’re depressed. The reluctance to offer support may be in part that they want to ‘fix’ the depressed person, and they don’t know how, and then they feel guilt or shame if they can’t. That can be a scary place to be (I’ve been on both sides of that one). It amazes me how hard it is to find someone who’s genuinely willing to simply, listen.

<< laughing >> OK, that’s already more that may be appropriate out here. This is, I judge, a touchy subject. So that’s as much as I will say about that here.

I agree! It is good to know there are some others ‘out there’ who share similar struggles. That’s where support groups can really help out.

If you want to do a swap sometime, I would be happy to share some of my Gyoruko with you.

Your willingness to open up makes my world a little bit better. : )

I just had an afterthought (or is it a brain-fart? I don’t know …). Listening to music that reflects my mood can be helpful, and somehow affirms where I am, even if no one else will.

So in an effort to reduce my caffeine intake (or rather, replace- partially), I’ve been trying an assortment of green teas the last week or two. I tried the Gyokuro and a Korean Sejak, neither of which I could finish! they made me nauseous, even though I quite enjoyed the flavour. Perhaps my body sensed there was some extra theanine in there and urged caution, or maybe it’s related somehow to jasmine green? who knows.

Yeah, people really cannot understand depression unless they experience it themselves or maybe see it in someone they are close to. Mine is not a bad case (I’ve known people who have much more severe cases) so I am grateful to have the perspective of that atleast.
Mum’s attitude is "oh don’t be ridiculous, which I find odd because she considers herself open-minded…
Anytime I find someone who is willing to listen, well they always have an agenda of their own, or are just waiting to launch their own tale of woe.
Anyhow, I am glad we’ve made each other’s worlds better. One step at a time right?
I need to go find some relaxing music for bedtime reading :)

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seule771 said

Tea is to be a cure for many things if not all. And we are born the way we are; in that most is out of our control, yet the individual is held responsible for his or her lacks and not the parents, the creators who knew what the world held in store for each individual.

Tea cannot erase what is natural, birth given a lacking of sort. If drinking a cup of tea helps lessens the daily grunts that comes with living than happy tea and forget about being weaned off it.

I am stubborn and hard of hearing is my flaw, not a at birth plight but societal driven to be stubborn; a defense mechanism of sort, seen as offense/offensive.

If tea be the liquor to quench all then lest it play on infinitely.

thanks Seule. Tea is awesome!! and nature vs nurture… which one wins? Hmmmm

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I’ve bipolar disorder that doesn’t have a break between episodes. Most have an episode or two, then a period of not sick, then an episode or two and so on. I’m always depressed except when I’m manic. There is no inbetween periods of normalcy.

I wouldn’t say tea helps my depression so much as my interest in it helps to illustrate when I’m not doing as bad. It’s a good measuring stick, for me. When I’m too sick I can’t enjoy or get involved in anything…heck, even when my depression lessens I usually still have acute anhedonia. It’s only been since this new set of meds have been working well for me that my depression and anhedonia have gotten better enough to get involved in an interest at all and that interest is tea.

I’m still unable to feel most positive emotions, but once in a while I’ll feel a few seconds of happy before I go back to the normal not for me. I’ve gotten into tea very strongly this year as the meds have kicked in and it is something that pleases me the most often. It’s the one subject that I can engage in and causes me to feel good here and there for a moment or two.

It doesn’t help with my depression, but when my depression is lighter it is my main interest and source of good moments.

Oh no, Bipolar disorder is not an easy condition to manage, I’m so sorry Rumpus Parable :(
Funny, I think I subconciously do the same. Maybe that’s why I lost my taste for black tea so suddenly.
I do hope that things get better for you and that tea continues to bring you joy :)

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Doug F said

I was struck pretty hard by a combination of depression and anxiety disorder about five years ago but clawed my way out with the help of Meds, yoga, exercise and therapy. but what really brought me back to a place where I can feel happiness and fulfillment was having children. Strangely enough, the responsibility of fatherhood allowed me to focus more on my kids and less on myself and the love I have for them stimulates those happy brain chemicals. for a while I could not drink tea at all because it triggered panic and anxiety. Now at the anxiety is under control, I am heavy into my tea again because it helps me to motivate and feel euphoric. I, too have to control the levels in my body so as not to get too high or low, but I can’t imagine my life without it. Also, apart from the experience of drinking it, the simple interest I have in tea and learning more about it keeps me from falling into self-absorption.

wow I love hearing about everyone’s stories! and that yoga etc helped you get back to a healthy place.
Tea seems to be such a comfort to so many people. I can see though, how it would aggravate anxiety. So glad for you that you made your way back to it :)

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hugs First off, I’m sorry I fail so hard at returning text messages >.<

De and I both suffer from depression. I’ve been off my medication for over three years now (thanks to no longer being covered by my Dad’s insurance and then moving to Canada. I’ll be covered by OHIP on November 14th, though!), and while De has been on medication for over a year now, it’s starting to not work.

I’m with Rumpus up there, tea is my measuring stick. When I started my job, I wasn’t drinking a lot of tea. I told myself it was because I was too distracted and busy, but honestly, I was depressed. And so was De. I like my job well enough, but the utter lack of encouragement and praise dragged me down. It was always what I’m doing wrong, never pointing out what I got right. De was struggling with her own job woes and eventually I asked to be put on part time, both for my own sanity and hers. We never saw each other. We’d rather be broke and happy than rich and miserable.

Now I’m drinking a lot of tea. I’m more active on steepster. And when I do make tea, I’m glad I did, and it does cheer me up when I’m down or soothe when I’m upset.

Like yesterday. After a terrible time at Service Ontario, just trying to get a health card, I was in a terrible mood. We stopped my a muffin place for tea, but it was awful. I had two sips and tossed it. We went to a pub for lunch and I ordered hot tea. The idiot bimbo of a waitress offered to put iced tea in the microwave for me >.ll be on my own, which is a good thing. Tea always lifts my mood when I need it to. It also does wonders for my anxiety. The simple act of making a cup of tea forces me to calm down and concentrate on the tea and not whatever is causing my anxiety to flare up.

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hugs back
Aww well now you have more time to hang out with me! :)
For awhile there I was getting really depressed to. I all but stopped posting here for atleast a week which is just odd for me… but much of the weeks leading up were bad to, I was simply running on autopilot. I’m hoping my new dedication to yoga and supplements will help.
Sucks about the crappy service you had. I think it’s cuz she’s(the waiter) never had a great cup of tea! maybe next time you could leave some as a tip :P
Anyhow, I’m glad you’re feeling better… and I hope De is as well!

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Annie said
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Doug F said

It would seem counterintuitive to drink tea while suffering from anxiety, but I too find tea actually makes me calm, alert and, positive-thinking as well.

It really does bring calm, to me as well. I wish it’d work beyond one cup though! for me anyhow…

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MaddHatter said

I don’t remember what I posted previously, but I will say that tea has kept me from “going nut job crazy” after leaving my partner of 11 years. I’ve only been out of the house for 5 days and when I feel ready to have a mental break-down/ ptty party (because in truth this is the right decision he was controlling and verbally abusive) I turn to tea. I don’t know if it is the tea itself or the process that is soothing, or the bright shiney happy tea for one service my Mom bought me that helps… But after that first sip of tea I feel cenetered and ready to veiw my decision apropriately, rather than having a full out pulling hair out sob-fest.

No one is worth that, especially after 11 years of mental and emotional abuse, no one!!

ahhh yes I’ve been in one of those relationships before. Mine was only 4 yrs long but even still it was not pretty. I was downright suicidal then… but I really wasn’t into tea yet. I have to wonder what would have happened if I had been!
Nowadays, when I’m having a bad day… that cup of tea is such a blessing. In fact, I think the lack of tea is why I have a negative association with my old job :(
I’m really glad you got out MaddHatter. Good for you, in the most sincere way I can muster.

I second that and honor you for your courage to choose to put the most important person in your life first: YOU.

Ohh SimpliciTea, how I wish I could truthfully say that were the case (for me that is, I further second that honor for MadHatter…)
I was woefully unaware that his treatment of me was abuse, it was he that chose to break it off with me the first time (but he’s tried to get me back many times since then)
In fact, at the time, I would have done most anything to make him stay with me. Crying fits, baked goods on his doorstep… and all of this despite my family and friends saying he was no good.
This was before I evolved into any sort of self-awareness.
anyhow, I’ve been able to firmly say no many times since then, so I can at the very least be proud of that :)
Thank you for your kind words though, they are very much appreciated.

MaddHatter said

Thank-you for the support. I still have the cellphone that is in his name and it makes me feel dead inside when it rings because without caller I’d whoes to know whose calling?

Its a tough process when he calls and I pick-up. Its like a game and I do not know the rules. The worst is lately I see all the deficientcies that he saw and that is disturbing because I’m sure most are not true.

I have to stop keying this in on a teeeeeeny phone screen = no fun

@Maddhatter: I sympathize with your plight. Although it probably doesn’t feel like it, it sounds like this is a great opportunity for you to learn about yourself, about what really matters to you, and maybe you will discover how important to you that YOU really are (if you haven’t already).

Since tea is so important to you, I would be happy to help you out by sending you tea from my cupboard. I can’t offer everything, as its not completely up to date, and some are not yet opened, and some are almost gone, but if you want tell me what you are interested in, I would be happy to send you what I can; there is no need for you to send me anything in return. As I am guessing where you are living may be in flux, I would be happy to send it to any address you give me, including a PO box.

I am following you, so you can send me a PM with an address if you wish.

Hang in there! You are wonderful just as you are!

later entry: I took a moment to check out your blog. Wow! Thank you for allowing me a glimpse of where you are right now. You must be a truly amazing person!

MaddHatter said

Thanks, and that blog is slightly behind because all I have is a teeny little phone screen to type my entries up on.

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