Best All-Natural Insect Repellent, Plus Talking About Depression

What people are talking about on the iVillage message boards this week

With summer come cookouts, camping… and bugs. Nothing ruins a backyard barbecue quicker than a swarm of irritating mosquitoes or mayflies. Sure, you can douse yourself with DEET and be done with it, but some people aren’t so keen on spraying themselves down with toxic pesticides.

On the Alternative Health message boards this week, members are sharing their solutions for all-natural insect repellent.

“My dear husband’s doctor told me yesterday to try vanilla. We will see. If you hear of a better solution, I would love to hear of it! I tried lavender and peppermint oil and neither kept them away. I had to break down and use the over-the-counter bug spray! I absolutely LOVE the outdoors and want to go camping again soon,” says community leader, tweety_lm.

“We're lucky not to have mosquitoes where I live, but I've heard good things about citronella or lemongrass essential oils. Maybe they'd work better than the lavender and peppermint?” kellie0901.

In junior high, I remember my neighbor’s mom rubbing us all down with vanilla extract to keep the bugs away. But I was so caught up whatever game we were playing -- tag, hide and seek -- that if I did get bit, I didn’t register it.

Now there are a slew of all-natural repellents on the market these days, but many haven't proven ineffective. However, when Consumer Reports ranked the best insect repellents last summer, one of their top choices was an all-natural brand, called Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus.

According to the magazine, Repel kept mosquitoes and ticks away for at least seven hours. One word of caution, though: lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under three.

Elsewhere on the boards this week, members are talking about the stigma of depression. On the Depression Support board, members asked one another if they speak openly about their condition or keep it to themselves. The consensus: most have one or two people they confide in, but don’t share their struggle with the rest of the world.

For just_aubrey, the hardest part in talking about depression with others is that those who haven't dealt with it can’t relate. “People who don't have our struggles can't offer us much besides the pointless, ‘snap out of it.’ I can't count how many times I've heard, ‘Why be depressed? You have such a beautiful baby and house,’” says just_aubrey.

Maryc22147 is lucky enough to have a boss she can confide in, but keeps it from the rest of her coworkers out of fear that they will view her as incompetent. “I talk to very few people about my depression. I don't tell anyone else, in part, because I worry about gossip. I have a lot of responsibility in my job, and I don't want my team worrying that I might 'go crazy' at any moment -- which just points out the continued discrimination against mental illness,” she says.

She also points out a catch-22 for many people who struggle with depression: “It's very frustrating to feel bad and not be able to talk about it to anyone -- as if a depressed person needs to feel any more lonely!”

That’s why Josannajava chooses to tell people about her mental illness. She considers it just another fact about herself, like what size shoe she wears or the color of her hair. “Someone once asked me, ‘Why are you so open about your depression and that you are in therapy?’ Because I see no shame in it. My family wasn't liking that I went in therapy back 2002, but over the years they have accepted it,” she says.

If you have a friend who is depressed, remember that it’s okay if you don’t understand what they’re going through. All you have to do is let them know that you support them and want to be there for them. Instead of trying to cheer them up, it’s better to give them permission to feel depressed. After all, it’s not their fault that they’re feeling the way they do. Telling them to buck up or to focus on the positive will only serve to trivialize their condition and make them feel worse. Most of all, just give them your ear and try to include them in activities you know they will enjoy, so they feel supported. Find more tips on talking to friends or loved ones with depression here. If you’re suffering from depression, check out iVillage’s article on the best ways to beat depression without drugs.

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