Thrush & Depression
Mental health is something we need to talk much more about as a society and I wanted to cover it here, especially as in the darker months, with the shorter daylight hours, similarly as with thrush flare ups, our mood can be impacted.
Generally, depression (that is not caused by a chemical imbalance) can be described as being caused by not being in the ‘place’ that you want to be in, in life. It is a state of high arousal (non sexual) and is a tension created by being ‘here’ and wanting to be ‘there’. This is my own general definition, and one that I’ve seen and heard ring true in various places, though there are other definitions too - such as chemically implicated ones.
So what do I mean when I talk about depression in this case? Well in relation to thrush I have seen two types.
The first is because of the often unbearable nature of relentless flare-ups; the burning, the itching, the pain, the inflammation. It can make walking uncomfortable, urinating painful, and even the thought of intercourse unthinkable. If it is thus, life can feel quite difficult, and depression, and often anger, can be common and very reasonable responses. Its not where you want to be, and its preventing you from living your life.
It can also cause anxiety because doing every-day activities or joining in with friends and family may be difficult and feel physically uncomfortable. Thus your social life can suffer, and you may find yourself wishing to withdraw. Also if you are following an ‘anti-candida’ diet you may find yourself having to be so concerned with your food and environment that it can also create a type of anxiety.
The second is because it can occur as a symptom of Candida, i.e it is one of the nasty little symptoms of a systemic Candida overgrowth, just as thrush itself can be. In this case, it can cause what has been described as mental fog, and depression-type symptoms, all due to our determined yeasty lodger.
As a note to this, it has been suggested that there is a link between many drugs including some anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication and Candida overgrowth. I really want to emphasise that if you think this may be of relevance to your situation, please get individualised and professional healthcare advice and assistance from your herbalist and GP about it before considering coming off any such medication.
It may feel difficult to determine which of these types are affecting you, let alone if there is any underlying depression unrelated to candida and thrush.
Below I have got a few suggestions for you to try to help to deal with any depression element related to recurrent thrush. As always I advocate seeing a qualified healthcare professional such as a medical herbalist or GP.
Firstly, try to accept where you are and how you are feeling in the now. This can help to remove some of that tension. Also accept it’s not where you want to be and that you are going to gradually move towards that place. By letting go and just accepting, you’re releasing a lot of energy thats keeping you held in the place you have been. Just know its ok if you are feeling down, anxious, depressed, frustrated, angry, or any other emotion. Be kind to yourself, and treat yourself as you would if you were caring for a loved one. Its ok.
Secondly, don’t suffer in silence. By committing to your journey to good health and a thrush-free life you are taking brave steps to get where you’d like to be. So find a good practitioner who specialises in thrush and candida, or, if this is not an option, find good quality resources to help you on your path.
Meditation can be a really powerful practice to use in depression. It can change your perception and your focus, really help to calm anxiety and can produce quite remarkable outcomes. I always recommend Headspace to my patients and you can get 10 free sessions when you download the app. This is a mindfulness-based meditation that is focussed around the breath and later, as you move through the various packs if you subscribe, visualisation techniques.
You could also try my meditation for embodiment that I wrote about in the blog in April.
I could not write this article without making reference to some lovely herbs that can be helpful in working with anxiety or depression, but before I mention any I want to emphasise that if in any doubt please consult with a qualified medical herbalist before experimenting. Ok? Then I shall start with the one commonly associated with depression - St John’s Wort. This is a lovely herb for ‘letting light in’, and clinical trials have shown that it can be helpful for mild to moderate depression. However, it might not be the right herb for you, and it certainly should not be used as a straight swap for any anti-depressants you may be taking, or if you are taking other medications along side it. As I mentioned above it would be best to seek advice from your medical herbalist who is trained to advise and prescribe on an individual basis.
Another lovely herb that I like to describe as a ‘hug in a mug’ is lemon balm, and is one of the herbs in the class described as thymoleptics - meaning mood improving. This is a lovely herb and can be drunk freely, as long as you do not have a thyroid condition or are pregnant.
Skullcap is another favourite that can be helpful in anxiety states where it feels as though you have ‘mice running around in your brain’. It can be really helpful where getting and staying asleep is a challenge. A reasonable dose would be one teaspoon to a mug of tea an hour before bed, allowing steeping time of 5 minutes.
I would also really strongly recommend you try to get some immediate relief from your thrush symptoms, whilst working to get to the root cause and treating that. Whether it be through using over the counter pessaries, or using my Immediate Relief Recipe this will help you at least gain some relief and sense of normality whilst longer term treatment from your practitioner is getting to work.
Many women have never spoken to another person about their recurrent thrush, not their doctor, not their friends, nor their partners. I truly believe we need to start speaking out to each other about this and creating a community so we can feel less alone and share our experiences. With this in mind I would like to invite you to join my Facebook community group for ladies who suffer with recurrent thrush, which offers a safe space for mutual support.
Both depression and speaking-out in relation to thrush are topics that I plan to return to later next year and I would really like to know if there is any specific help or advice you would like in these areas, and your experiences, if you have been affected in any of the ways I have mentioned here.