Natural treatment of DEPRESSION

Depression goes beyond feelings of sadness or suffering from 'the blues'. It is among the leading causes of disability in the world and affects 121 million people globally. Some 850,000 people a year commit suicide, often due to depression. It can impact on physical health in other ways, and it can affect everyone from children to the elderly .

Causes and symptoms

Although the exact cause of depression is unknown, it is believed to be due to changes in brain function triggered by stressful events such as the death of a loved one, serious illness or job loss. A number of people may have a hereditary tendency to become depressed in the face of such events. Low self-esteem, a pessimistic attitude, difficulty dealing with stress and continuous exposure to violence, neglect or poverty may increase a person's risk for depression. Some medical conditions, such as a brain tumour, hypothyroidism , or a deficiency in vitamins such as folate can cause depression. 

Are you depressed

·         If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

·         you can’t sleep or you sleep too much

·         you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult

·         you feel hopeless and helpless

·         you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try

·         you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating

·         you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual

·         you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior

·         you have thoughts that life is not worth living.

 

·         Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help.

Prevention

There is no medical test to diagnose depression. Major depression is indicated by at least two weeks of persistent sadness and/or loss of interest or pleasure in things that brought enjoyment. In addition, three to four of the symptoms below must be present:

·         Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness

·         Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

·         Fatigue or lack of energy

·         Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

·         Insomnia, early morning wakefulness

·         Dramatic change in appetite, often with significant weight gain or loss

·         Thoughts of death or the belief that one would be better off dead

·         Restlessness, agitation

·         Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive upsets and chronic pain, that do not improve with treatment.

 Dysthymia is considered a chronic but milder form of depression that lasts longer, usually as long as two years. Psychotic depression has unusual symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. Depression in children may be difficult to diagnose. Younger children may pretend to be sick or worry that a parent will die; older children may sulk or get into trouble at school. Symptoms in the elderly may mimic those of dementia . Depression may accompany serious illness, such as Parkinson's disease or heart disease , and slow down the amount of time it takes to recover. Men may mask their depression with alcohol or overwork. Women are more likely to suffer from depression and blame it on hormones. Post-natal depression lasing three weeks or longer occurs in about 10 percent of women after giving birth. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects people during the winter months. 

Depression in men

Depression is a loaded word in our culture. Many associate it, however wrongly, with a sign of weakness and excessive emotion. This is especially true with men. Depressed men are less likely than women to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness. Instead, they tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. Other signs and symptoms of depression in men include anger, aggression, violence, reckless behavior, and substance abuse. Even though depression rates for women are twice as high as those in men, men are a higher suicide risk, especially older men.

Depression in women

Rates of depression in women are twice as high as they are in men. This is due in part to hormonal factors, particularly when it comes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression, and perimenopausal depression. As for signs and symptoms, women are more likely than men to experience pronounced feelings of guilt, sleep excessively, overeat, and gain weight. Women are also more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Depression in teens

While some depressed teens appear sad, others do not. In fact, irritability—rather than depression—is frequently the predominant symptom in depressed adolescents and teens. A depressed teenager may be hostile, grumpy, or easily lose his or her temper. Unexplained aches and pains are also common symptoms of depression in young people.

Left untreated, teen depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug abuse, self-loathing—even irreversible tragedy such as homicidal violence or suicide. But with help, teenage depression is highly treatable.

Depression in older adults

The difficult changes that many older adults face—such as bereavement, loss of independence, and health problems—can lead to depression, especially in those without a strong support system. However, depression is not a normal part of aging. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression, and so the problem often goes unrecognized. Depression in older adults is associated with poor health, a high mortality rate, and an increased risk of suicide, so diagnosis and treatment are extremely important.

No one should feel guilty for suffering from depression; sometimes it cannot be prevented. In general, the following healthy habits boost prevention: eating a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, finding ways to relax, limiting alcohol consumption and not using drugs.

Counseling can also help prevent depression, teaching new ways to handle stressful events such as grief, stress or chronic disease. Social connection is particularly important when feeling isolated or lonely, especially for the elderly; volunteer or group activities can be quite helpful. 

Signs and symptoms

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

·         you can’t sleep or you sleep too much

·         you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult

·         you feel hopeless and helpless

·         you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try

·         you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating

·         you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual

·         you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior

·         you have thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case)

Causes and risk factors for depression

·         Loneliness

·         Lack of social support

·         Recent stressful life experiences

·         Family history of depression

·         Marital or relationship problems

·         Financial strain

·         Early childhood trauma or abuse

·         Alcohol or drug abuse

·         Unemployment or underemployment

 

·         Health problems or chronic pain

Antidepressants and psychotherapy can successfully treat 60 to 80 percent of those suffering from depression. Medication and psycho- therapy are equally effective in the short term. Psychotherapy appears more effective in the long run.

       PSYCHOTHERAPY Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches ways to fight negative thoughts and is considered the most effective non- medical treatment for depression.

       EXERCISE Regular exercise improves symptoms of depression. The positive effects of exercise also promote feelings of well-being and can help prevent subsequent depressive episodes from occurring.

       MEDICATION Several different types of antidepressants are avail- able; it may be necessary to try different ones until finding what works best. They all require weeks to months produce a therapeutic effect. Some are safe for breast- feeding mothers with post-natal depression. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have fewer side-effects than tricyclic antidepressants. Less frequently used are MAOIs, which require avoidance of foods with high levels of tyramine, such as many cheeses, wines and medications such as decongestants. Other medication, such as antianxiety drugs, sedatives, lithium, thyroid supplements and antipsychotics may also be needed.

       SUPPLEMENTS Make sure your diet includes omega-3 fatty acids  from fish like tuna, salmon or mackerel, and take 400 to 800 mcg folate (vitamin B9) in a multivitamin.

       LIGHT THERAPY Thirty minutes of daily exposure to full spectrum lighting  may help reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

       YOGA Studies show promising results in both adults and children with using yoga to treat depression. 

       TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION (TMS) This treatment is similar to ECT, but with fewer side-effects, and is being evaluated by researchers for its effectiveness.

       MUSIC THERAPY This therapy may increase the effectiveness of antidepressants and works especially well the elderly .

       ART THERAPY Creating art as a means of self-expression may be effective for suicidal teenagers. 

       Social support. The more you cultivate your social connections, the more protected you are from depression. If you are feeling stuck, don’t hesitate to talk to trusted family members or friends, or seek out new connections at a depression support group, for example. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

 

Do you have any questions?

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