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Depression is a serious condition and is a leading cause of ill-health and disability worldwide. According to the WHO, over 250 million people are living with it at this very moment. Another sad fact is that 80–90% of people who seek treatment with it will end up getting better in just a few weeks. Instead, nearly 80,000 people commit suicide every year.
We all have episodes of depression throughout life, it’s even normal, the trouble is that many experience ongoing suffering while the rest of us get better in a day or so.
Irritability. An excessive reaction to different kinds of internal and external stimuli.
Loss of interest. An inability to feel interest in normally interesting things. This is called Anhedonia.
Hopelessness. A state of mind in which an individual no longer expects for things to get better.
Social withdrawal. Social withdrawal is described as a strong urge to pull away from other people.
Sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can either trigger or worsen the symptoms of depression.
Self-loathing. Self-loathing is a pattern of thinking where a person believes that they are bad, evil, unlovable, worthless or incompetent.
Changes in appetite. Loss of appetite or increased appetite is a common sign of depression, which will also lead to sudden changes in one’s weight.
Difficult focusing. Depression slows down your brain while filling it with negative thoughts whereby concentrating becomes very difficult.
The following article covers various triggers and choices that can lead to depression, as well as some simple things that can be implemented in hope that they attenuate the symptoms, or at the very least, prevent them getting worse.
One things is for sure, you should not suffer alone with depression, nor should you let anyone you know suffer with it without bringing it up with them; it’s too dangerous. Get help!
Alcohol and depression often appear to go hand in hand. It is all too common for many people to drink alcohol when they are feeling down, or are overcome by the events of their lives. Unfortunately any perceived benefit of ‘drowning one’s sorrows’ will be very temporary.
Individuals who drink as a method of dealing with their own negative emotions can be creating long term harm for themselves in the pursuit of short term relief. If drinking becomes habitual it can wreak havoc emotionally, physically and take its toll on family and work. It can also lead to or exacerbate chronic or ongoing depression.
At times of succumbing to the effects of alcohol, whether it to be to relax or celebrate, many lose their feelings of being bound or restricted. This relaxed feeling that occurs is due to the chemical changes occurring from the alcohol in the brain. This effect has led numerous people to believe that ‘booze’ can help them reduce their anxiety and depression, improve overall confidence and help them relax.
Alcohol is in fact a depressant, not an anti-depressant, because it depresses the portion of the brain that is most responsible for conscious thought. This is why it is then easier to forget one’s immediate problems for the moment, as unwanted feelings and emotions are temporarily suppressed.
As a person consumes more and more alcoholic drinks, different areas of the brain become affected. Instead of experiencing more happy feelings, it is common for negative emotional responses, including depression, anxiety and anger to take over.
Of course once the alcohol-induced state is gone, the problems remain, often increased in magnitude and too often accompanied by remorse. This then adds to the emotional burdens being dealt with, increasing the symptoms and feelings of depression. And the cycle continues.
If this roller-coaster behavior is allowed to become a habit it is usual that both alcoholic consumption and symptoms of depression increase. Again, this adds pressure to family, social and work relationships and further contributes to the symptoms associated with depression.
If you are a person who drinks heavily on a consistent basis, you could be at a much higher risk of developing depression symptoms. Alcohol can alter brain chemistry, including lowering the serotonin levels within the brain.
Since serotonin is one of the brain chemicals that aids in regulating moods, alcohol can cause problems over the long term with your ability to experience happiness.
Suffering through the effects a hangover is also not conducive to feelings of happiness and wellness.
Relationships can be negatively affected, too, either by the alcohol drinking or the associated depression. These relationship issues add fuel to the depression fire and so the vicious cycle escalates.
Using alcohol to mask symptoms of depression, as well as avoiding problems in life in general, is very common. When the seeking of the temporary relief from problems becomes habitual, sought for and longed for, there is a problem.
Solutions are available, they require personal courage and usually support from loved ones. It is in the interests of both sufferers and others affected by the effects of habitual drinking to seek help. Too many lives and relationships have been damaged and even destroyed by the twin problems of depression and alcohol.
If you suffer with depression and anxiety it can feel as if your only option is to be prescribed prescription medications. The problem with this approach is that many people are prescribed medications when they only have mild depression or anxiety symptoms and don’t really need to be medicated at all.
In some cases, prescription medications used to treat anxiety disorders can take up to 12 weeks to be fully effective. They are also known to be habit forming and in many cases cause problems when a patient has to cease their dosage, which is why patients are normal weaned off the meds.
So instead of facing potential side effects that are detrimental to your health and heading to the doctor when you need to stabilize your moods, you might like to first try a natural approach. You certainly have options.
Basically, it is a treatment for depression that does not make use of prescription medications. Some of the most common of these natural remedies are: dietary changes, relaxation techniques, massages, and even counseling therapy.
Although these treatments seem benign, it is recommended that you discuss options with your doctor before starting any new regime.
There are many claims under the naturalist banner, from omega-3, multi-vitamins, B vitamins, vitamin D, and whole bunch of others.
If these things have a mechanistic effect it’s mostly likely due to bringing more balance back to your body by way of things such as hormones, which is why if you are feeling depressed exercising regularly and eating well will get you off to a great start.
Add that to a good night’s sleep and you may begin to get your depression and anxiety under control.
Exercise can actually be an integral part of treating depression and we’ll cover it more below, but you can do simple exercises such as taking a walk or you can be even more proactive and attend yoga classes. You may also be interested in relaxation techniques and learn how to meditate and deep breathe.
This may all sound too simplistic but there is a good reason for this simplicity. Our bodies run on hormones and if they are out of kilter for any reason, they can cause a whole host of mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.
If you are looking to treat anxiety and depression naturally, then you probably are not interested in this form of treatment. Taking medications may not be the best way to treat your problem either. Many people have enjoyed a complete recovery without even taking a single pill.
The causes of anyone’s depression or anxiety are often associated with the patient’s past experiences or emotions and these cannot be corrected singly with the use of medications.
Seeking professional help is definitely one of the best ways to deal with any mental health disorder. However most of the effort for recovery has to come from you as well. It is always advisable to follow the doctor’s instructions but at the same time you should also take it upon yourself to learn as much about your condition as possible.
Knowledge of one’s condition can help you overcome the increased anxiety and depresion that comes from you having the anxiety and depression in the first place.
While managing and minimizing symptoms is very necessary, the ongoing goal is obviously to find and treat the underlying cause. Unfortunately, most prescription medications only treat the immediate symptoms, leaving the problems to reoccur.
Exercise is helpful for everyone who is able, particularly those dealing with depression and anxiety. Exercise can have the effect of boosting our endorphin production within our brain and providing a feeling of euphoria.
Adding some simple exercises into your daily routine can help you alleviate the symptoms of your depression, regardless how mild or severe it is, and maintaining an exercise regime may make it less likely that a relapse will occur.
Of course, expecting total compliance of patients is the major downside of using exercise to combat depression. Many critics argue that some individuals’ depression levels are too high making it hard to convince themselves to get motivated. This could no doubt be true as depression often leaves many people feeling exhausted and even physically sore. It can be difficult to exercise each day when it is hard to simply get out of bed.
Further, mental conditions such as depression are often cyclic (both deteriorating phases and improving phases), and during a deteriorating phase a negative feedback loop sets in wherein it becomes very hard for a sufferer to take affirmative action.
Conversely, if and when a sufferer takes a positive action, or is encouraged to do so, a positive feedback loop can be generated, resulting in further positive actions with increased positive results. Exercise and its effects can be a huge part of this positive cycle. Getting started is definitely the hardest part.
Exercising on a regular basis can also help people develop an improved sense of self-esteem, which can be beneficial in reducing the detrimental effects that often come with depression.
Plus, feeling accomplished after exercising can boost an individual’s sense of well-being, which can therefore aid in regenerating the self-esteem.
There are so many benefits to exercising that we should all be doing doing it, irrespective of any current mental condition. It not only improves psychological and mental health but also has positive effects in physical health and appearance.
Exercise can improve your mood, cognitive function and physical perceptions.
If people with depression begin to notice that they feel better after working out, they may eventually believe that by sticking to their exercise routine there could be a way out and finally end their depressed state altogether.
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Another natural therapy is light therapy.
Many people are showing interest in this treatment for depression because it does not involve the use of medications and does not come with a long list of negative side effects. Understandably however, many individuals remain skeptical and hesitant to try it because it is an alternative therapy and therefore does not have the track record of prescription medications and other depression treatments.
But light therapy for depression has been showing promising results and is gaining more attention within the medical community and is increasingly being recommended as something that could be an excellent complementary remedy to utilize alongside the traditional methods of treatment of depression.
Light therapy can also assist with sleeping issues, so the cumulative effect of sleep deprivation adding to depressive symptoms gets tackled at the same time.
Light therapy is also much safer to use and less expensive than traditional prescription medication or other kinds of therapy.
If you are seeking a non-invasive solution to your depression symptoms and would like to try light therapy, speak with your doctor for more information. They will be able to tell you where and how to find out about purchasing a machine. Some health insurance plans will also reimburse you some or even all of the cost.
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Efficacy of treatments aside, it’s better if we can keep depression away so we don’t need them in the first place. So let’s have a look at that now:
Feeling depressed can begin for no apparent reason, but if a person is predisposed to feeling down and depressed they need to act quickly when they recognize the symptoms beginning to manifest.
If they do not initiate some proactive behavior, they can find themselves succumbing to increasing feelings of isolation and lethargy. This can lead them to becoming cut off from communication with others and reclusive tendencies may occur.
During this process, they may also start to feel more alone than ever and their depression can then worsen.
Keep the following in mind in your fight against depression:
Often, one of the first patterns that may emerge is avoidance from social outings and contact.
Once a person is clinically depressed, they will intentionally avoid previous activities that used to bring them happiness. It becomes easier to isolate themselves instead of explaining why they are so tired, down in the dumps and unmotivated.
Sadly, these actions provide the complete opposite of what is really needed to help the situation.
Social withdrawal usually creates more problems, such as the brain’s stress response becoming magnified with acts of isolation. Maintaining involvement with supportive family and friends will help to discourage these stress responses from being triggered.
Brooding on negative thoughts and dwelling on upsetting issues is one of the major components of depression.
When a person gets stuck in negative thought patterns regarding frustration, loss, failure, not being good enough etc., their depression will only worsen. When an individual finds themselves doing this on a regular basis, they have the tendency to perceive a neutral or potentially positive situation as something negative.
Depressed people spend a good portion of their time and much of their energy frequently dealing and re-dealing with negative thoughts.
It is crucial to recognize these unhealthy habits of negative self-talk and make a conscious choice to focus on positive thoughts.
The simple act of choosing not to wallow in unhappy, vindictive or vengeful thoughts is a huge step to breaking the depression cycle. Each and every time negative thoughts are left unexplored in favor of a conscious choice to focus on the positive is a huge personal victory.
Consuming alcoholic beverages may at times seem to provide relief from the symptoms of depression and anxiety, but any perceived benefit will be very short-lived and repeated drinking can make symptoms of depression worse.
Reach for alcohol is common because it provides a numbing effect. Add to this that many medications do not work well with alcohol and mixing the two can be damaging to both mental and physical health.
People suffering from depression may be more likely to crave sugar due to its short-term mood elevating properties. Foods high in sugar content can create a temporary sugar high which will unfortunately be followed by a low.
Imbalanced blood sugar levels can be a reason for mixed emotions and mood swings.
If you are subject to the effects or symptoms of depression, make an effort to become as responsible for your symptoms as you are able.
Create plans to deal with situations in advance.
Keep a store of happy thoughts and dreams, and uplifting music, to support you when you need it most.
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Regardless of how good we are to ourself or what natural remedies we try, depression can culminate in the use of medical drugs, and while the efficacy of these can’t be denied, they don’t come without potential risks and side-effects. So before anyone commits to taking anti-depressant medications, it is in their best interests to view all the facts and weigh the pros and cons.
We wish to finish with a quick overview of some various types of depression in order to round out your knowledge and potentially aid with diagnosis.
We tend to think that depression is something that adults deal with, but this is not ncessarily the case at all. Depression can affect a child, teenager or adult.
Depression is a psychiatric disorder that robs a person of their capacity to experience or feel happiness. It makes life feel worthless.
Of course, we all feel sad from time to time, but people suffering from depression often feel down continually. Even once the event that triggered the emotion has passed, the unhappiness seems to remain.
A lack of interest for things that used to bring pleasure is often one of the first signs there is a problem.
This disorder is also known as manic depression. Common among bipolar disorder are extremely intense emotional highs and lows.
If the emotion is one of high excitement, it is referred to as a manic phase.
Periods of extreme hopelessness and sadness are known as a depressive episode.
A “mixed state” also occurs when a person experiences the symptoms of depression and mania simultaneously. People who suffer from bipolar disorder may be explosive and irritable during their manic or depressive phases.
Reactive depression refers to the least serious yet most common type of depression experienced by teenagers, and typically involves difficulty in adjusting to a certain circumstance that they found disturbing.
The majority of cases of reactive depression involve losing a loved one such as a parent, experiencing rejection from the opposite sex or from their peers, or having an argument or fallout with a close friend.
Reactive depression may last for several hours up to a couple of weeks.
Experiencing at least 2 symptoms of depression most days of the year and at least twice during the day, is indicative of dysthymic disorder. Symptoms must not be caused by direct psychological substances such as medications, drugs or alcohol.
People who have dysthymia may find themselves having a hard time feeling happy even in the midst of upbeat situations.
Additional symptoms may include hypersomnia, fatigue, low self-esteem, loss of appetite or increase of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
Early-onset dysthymia happens prior to a person reaching the age of 21. If it happens after this age it is called late-onset dysthymia.
A condition characterized by constant feelings of hopelessness, guilt and sadness.
Often, this condition is so disabling that it interferes with a person’s ability to establish personal relationships, work or study. Sufferers may be extra sensitive to practically anything in their environment.
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