Depression is a natural and treatable condition. But misunderstandings, myths, and stigma continue to be barriers to treatment for many, and the consequences of untreated depression can be life-ending.
Understanding the reality of depression, on the other end, can save lives. Here are such things everyone should know about depressive disorders and depression.
Depression Doesn’t Always Have a “Nice” Reason
People often become depressed for what seems like a “nice” reason—may be a close friend passed away or lost their job —but with clinical depression, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a reason for how they feel.
Some chemicals in our brain that are responsible for mood management may be out of balance, causing you to feel worse even though everything in your life is going well.
|Also Read: Natural Remedies for Depression|
Many Factors Can Cause Depression
The causes of depression(1) aren’t entirely understood, but it is believed that the best explanation for it is that it is possibly caused by a combination of factors, such as certain environmental factors that can act as triggers and an underlying genetic tendency towards the condition.
Having a grandparent and parent with depression increases the risk of depression, suggesting that genetics plays a significant role. The rates of depression are also greater among those who have a history of substance abuse. Other factors related to depression include hormones, brain chemistry imbalances, stress, seasonal changes, and trauma.
Brain Chemistry Imbalances
Depression has been associated with a loss of balance in the neurotransmitters that influence mood regulation. This includes serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. The theory is that having too little or too much of these neurotransmitters can cause (or lead to) depression.
Any flux in the function or production of hormones—for instance, menstruation, pregnancy, thyroid issues or menopause, —could lead to depression.
Major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns SAD(seasonal affective disorder) is triggered by disruptions in the body’s circadian rhythm. A change in seasons can also disturb sleep, which can cause a depressed mood.
Stress and Trauma
The loss of a loved one, abuse, trauma and, chronic stress and significant life changes (such as losing a job or divorce) can aggravate depression. Experts blame this on the high levels of the cortisol hormone that is secreted during these traumatic, stressful times.Cortisol impacts the neurotransmitter serotonin and can trigger depression.
Depression Is More Than Regular Sadness
Sadness is a part of human nature, a natural reaction to painful situations. All of us will experience grief at some phase in our lives. Depression, however, is a condition with many more symptoms than a gloomy mood.
When gloominess turns into depression, there are some visible signs, including:
- Changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and weight
- Decreased sex drive
- Feeling hopeless, anxious, or helpless
- Feeling restless and irritable
- Persistent feelings of an “empty” mood or sadness
- Physical symptoms (such as digestive issues, headaches, pain, and body aches) that don’t recede with treatment
- Loss of interested in actives you once relished
Feelings of fatigue or low energy
The trouble with memory, concentration, and decision-making Sadly, you can’t just snap yourself out of depression. If you notice these signs, seek help from a mental health practitioner.
Depression Is a Real Illness
You are not crazy or weak. Depression is a real illness that scientists believe is caused primarily by imbalances in certain chemicals within our brain termed neurotransmitters. Some researchers are even starting to designate depression as a systemic disease.
The following neurotransmitters play a crucial role in regulating your mood and being involved in multiple functions throughout your body:
- Dopamine: Helps regulate memory, emotion, thinking, reward and motivation
- Norepinephrine: What makes your blood pressure and heart rate sore during a stressful time or “fight or flight” response
- Serotonin: It is a “feel-good” chemical that aids regulate your mood and performs a role in your overall sense of mental well-being
Experts are continuing to learn more about what causes these imbalances and other neurotransmitters like GABA, acetylcholine, and glutamate, which can also perform a role in depression.
Depression Is Treatable
There are many very effective treatment choices available for depression, including psychotherapy and medications. Besides, new treatments are being developed all the time that prove effective in cases where other treatments have not succeeded.
While your treatment should be customized to best suit your overall health and symptoms, a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes is often used to help alleviate depression symptoms.
Depending on your special situations, you may participate in group, individual, family, or couples psychotherapy. While there are various types of therapeutic approaches, the following have been study-proven to treat depression:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Behavioral activation
- Problem-solving therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Social skills therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Supportive counseling
In addition to medication and therapy, some lifestyle changes can help you better manage symptoms of medication side effects and depression. Here are some areas to focus on, but first consult your mental health practitioner to determine if they are suitable for you.
There’s no cure-all diet for depression, but there are certain foods that you can take (and skip) that play a role in emotional and mood regulation.
Alcohol, processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and refined grains can hijack your mental health, while whole foods like vegetables and fruits, turkey, fish, beans, chicken, nuts, and seeds can offer mood-enhancing benefits.
[Also Read: Diet for Depression]
A good workout can help uplift your mood, alleviate symptoms of depression, and reduce stress. The kind of exercise you opt should be based on your health, fitness level, and preferences. Your regimen can include aerobic exercise (such as swimming, jogging, cycling, elliptical trainer, brisk walking) and mind-body exercises like tai chi and yoga.
[Also Read: Exercise For Depression]
3. Stress management
Stress can aggravate depression and intensify their symptoms. Long-term habits like regular exercise, good nutrition, meditation, and proper sleep, build resilience. Incorporate daily stress management methods once you find what works for you. A support group or mental health professional can provide useful ideas.
[Also Read: How to Cope with Stress during Pandemic]
The fact that this mental disease can also manifest a range of physical illnesses is often ignored by people who relate it with emotional ailments like sadness, crying, and feelings of helplessness. This lack of information makes the treatment and diagnosis of a person suffering from depression more difficult for doctors.