Do you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder?
If you or someone you know has been feeling sad most of the day and can't seem to shake that down feeling, perhaps it is Major Depressive Disorder. In most cases, depression is a treatable condition. Depression can happen to anyone. It can be caused by a traumatic event, a change in body chemistry, or a sense of deep loss. In some cases, an inherited family pattern can spark the depression. This is called a predisposition for depression.
Depression is usually caused by a traumatic event. Each person has his/her own reality, so another person cannot determine if a specific event was traumatic for another. Only you can determine what feels traumatic to you.
Determining Major Depressive Disorder:
Major Depressive Disorder is diagnosed by examining what is happening emotionally and physically. Symptoms that indicate depression include the following:
- difficulty sleeping
- appetite change (eating significantly more or less than usual)
- loss of concentration
- feeling helpless/hopeless
- feeling worthless
- loss of interest in things you usually like to do, libido, and/or energy
- sadness for most of the day
- crying more easily than usual
- feeling the need to isolate the world
- irritable feelings
- suicidal thoughts or plans
If you have five of these symptoms, your diagnosis will be Major Depressive
Disorder. Notice the diagnosis is "disorder." This is not a mental illness, it is a disorder. Just like a physical flu, this disorder can usually go away. With a diagnosis, the remedy or course of treatment can then be discussed. Some clinicians currently believe that depression is caused by a combination of factors. Treatment focusing exclusively on one area may not be as helpful as a treatment that addresses all issues.
Major Depressive Disorder usually involves a change in the chemistry in your brain. Sometimes it takes a chemical to change the brain chemistry back to normal. This is where medication can be an option. Just because one antidepressant works wonders for someone you know does not mean you will react to that same medication in the same manner. Each person reacts differently to a medication. Benefits and side effects are personal. Depression is indicated by a low serotonin level, so a naturopathic doctor
will examine for other low serotonin conditions you may be experiencing. If you want to stay away from the chemical of medication, this is an alternative. The natural things that will lift depression before it slips to the level of severe, include: aerobic activity, sunlight in your eyes, and complex carbohydrates. These are discussed in more detail later in the article.
Lifestyle changes to lift depressive symptoms:
If you're like most people who struggle with depression, believing or doing most of the things listed here is going to feel a little unnatural, uncomfortable, or even impossible. However, if you can manage to make this commitment for yourself and believe things can change for the better, your efforts will be well worth the work.
Counseling can also help identify and inherently remedy the underlying issues that may be the cause of your depression. Counseling can also help you change the way you look at events or the way you communicate your needs. It can also offer ways to empower you to be happy.
Depression is similar to an emotional flu. When you go to the Medical Doctor and tell him/her you have symptoms such as fever, nausea, etc, the doctor may say, "You have the flu. Get plenty of rest and drink an abundance of fluids." Do you go home and say to yourself, "Self, this is so stupid. I should just get over this fever and throwing up." No, you do not. You take care of yourself and proactively help your body heal. Depression is a form of emotional flu. Saying to yourself, "Self, this is so stupid. Why can I not just get over feeling drained and irritable?" does not apply here as it did not apply for physical flu. Depression has nothing to do with personal weakness.
Scientists have determined that changes in nerve pathways and brain chemicals called neurotransmitters can affect your moods and thoughts. These changes in brain chemistry may show up as symptoms of depression. If you talk to any two depressed people about their experiences, you may think they were describing entirely different realities. One might not have the ability to maintain his/her usual energy level while the other might feel tired and unable to motivate him/herself.
It may feel like you are up to your neck in mud. Everything is a huge effort. One person may feel sad and break into tears easily. One might pick at food without any appetite, and another might want to eat constantly. Depression symptoms are not universal; each person will experience depression in his/her personal way. While sadness touches all of our lives at different times, the illness of depression can have enormous depth and staying power. If you have ever experienced depression or been close to someone who has, you know that this disorder cannot be changed at will. It cannot be wished or joked away either. It is not just the blues, and you cannot just "get over it."
Stay active: Physical activity is advantageous for your physical health, and it can also help to lift or prevent depression. Aerobic activity for twenty minutes a day is good for lifting depressive symptoms when they are not severe. This includes walking, swimming, and any other movement that is repetitive. Exercise positively affects the same neurotransmitters that antidepressant medications target, and produces feel-good brain chemicals called "endorphins" which promote the sense of well-being.
Stay connected with friends and family: Sometimes people suffering from depression have the tendency to want to close the door and lock out the world. This only exacerbates the depressive symptoms. Stay involved with the people in your life. This can help to prevent depression from occurring.
Find somewhere to talk: Sometimes a friend or family member is not enough. Preventive therapy, whether you choose to see a therapist one-on-one, in a support group, or even online counseling, can give you third party insight into your situation and help you through it.
Other activities: Find an activity like yoga, tai chi, journaling, or reading. These activities can help relieve stress, and they serve as a distraction. Be sure you are not preventing yourself from addressing the underlying cause of your depression by keeping too busy to acknowledge its presence.
Care for your physical health: If we don't feel good physically, it can affect our mental health. Make a medical doctor appointment to address your feelings of depression and any physical symptoms that may be adding to your inability to feel good emotionally.
Whole grains are believed to help lift depression. Popcorn, whole wheat, and oatmeal are all great ways to get our whole grains. Be careful when it comes to alcohol. It is a depressant and will consequently exacerbate the depression.
Sometimes the sad slowly becomes deeper, and before we know it, we are in a depressive state. Every small change that you make has positive effects on your physical and mental health. Be proactive about your health and well-being. Major Depressive Disorder does not have to be the end of enjoyment in your life.