Depression is when feelings of loss, anger, sadness or frustration make it hard for you to do the things you enjoy in everyday life. A person is said to be depressed if he is not feeling good for at least two weeks but often for as long as 20 weeks.
Although everyone feels sad sometimes, depression lasts longer and interferes with your daily life. Depression is one of the most common illnesses. It can be mild, moderate or severe. You can have a single episode of depression or depression that comes back or lasts a long time (more than two years).
If you have ever had the misfortune of experiencing mood disorders, anxiety and depression, you probably have heard these words often “Don’t worry, things will improve” and ‘It’s not as bad as you think.” Unless you have actually experienced depression, you cannot understand what it feels like.
Types of Depression
Depending on its causes, depression is classified as primary and other common forms of depression. The primary types of depression include:
- Chronic depression (Dysthymia): A long-lasting, less severe form of depression. People with dysthymia have a greater risk of major depression.
- Atypical depression: Unlike those with major depression, people with atypical depression can feel better for a while when something good happens. In addition, people with atypical depression have different symptoms than those with major depression. Despite its name, atypical depression may be the most common type of depression.
- Major depression: A constant sense of hopelessness and despair is the sign of major depression, also known as clinical depression. With major depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy activities.
- Adjustment disorder: It happens when someone's response to a major life event, such as the death of a loved one, causes symptoms of depression.
- Postpartum depression: About 10% of mothers may have depression after giving birth.
- Premenstrual dysphonic disorder (PDD): Women with PDD have symptoms one week before getting their period. Symptoms go away after their period.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): A kind of depression that is seasonal and happens when there is less sunlight. It starts during fall-winter and disappears during spring-summer.
- Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, have moods that swing from depression to mania.
A combination of physical, genetic and environmental factors is involved:
Heredity; a gene called SERT that controls the brain chemical serotonin has been linked to depression. In addition, some studies show that people with depressed family members are more likely to be depressed.
Changes in the brain; some people with depression may have physical changes in their brains.
Long-term stress; such as from loss, abuse or being deprived as a child.
Light problems; being exposed to low levels of light, in SAD
Sleep problems; unable to have a sound sleep for long durations.
Social isolation; not able to adjust/adapt with the society.
Vitamin deficiency; not getting enough of some vitamins and minerals.
Diseases; serious medical conditions, such as heart attack or cancer.
Medications; certain medications, including those for high blood pressure, high cholesterol or irregular heartbeat.
Depression: is common among individuals who have their gallbladders removed or whose gallbladders are loaded with stones.
Symptoms of depression may include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy, feeling drained all the time
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness, inability to concentrate
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Inability to make any decision
- Obvious weight loss or gain
- Not being interested in sex
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- 1. Eat a “happy” diet
Eating healthy can help with mood in general, but there are some foods that can help with serotonin, the chemical in the brain that contributes to happy. Some foods are serotonin enhancers, helping to raise those levels naturally. They include: Fish-oil, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, Healthy fat, such as coconut oil, Flaxseed oil, Sour cherries and Egg.
- 2. Drink green tea
Though green tea also contains caffeine, but it has one other extremely important constituent: L-theanine. L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine to boost mood in such a way that you don’t get the same crash-effect. It has its psychoactive properties, because it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to reduce stress as well as boost dopamine and the brain inhibitory transmitter GABA.
First thing in the morning, with your breakfast, sip a cup of hot, fresh, green tea. Drink the whole thing.
- 3. Drink chamomile tea
Depression goes hand in hand with sleep problems. It’s like you can’t get out of bed during the day, but can’t fall asleep at night either. It is thought that a particular flavonoid (a chemical naturally occurring in some plants) in chamomile is what contributes to its relaxing properties and having a cup before bedtime with a bit of milk and honey does help unwind. Tuck a little lavender sleep sachet under your pillow too and you’ll have an extra relaxing boost when you curl up.
Boil one cup of water and pour over two teaspoons of dried and let steep for 5 minutes and add a little milk and honey if you like, and drink 30 minutes before bedtime.
- 4. Supplement with St. John’s wort
A popular home remedy for depression comes in the form of St. John’s wort. An herbaceous plant/shrub, St. John’s wort has been used to treat various nervous disorders since ages. It is the most effective in cases of mild to moderate depression and is thought to work chiefly because of the effect of hypercin, one of its main constituents. Hypercin appears to affect various neurotransmitters in a similar manner to serotonin reuptake inhibitors. There are several other components of St. John’s wort that may contribute to the antidepressant effects, although hypercin is the most widely recognised.
- 5. Increase B-vitamins
Vitamin B (mainly B-12, but others as well) play an important role in the brain, producing chemicals that majorly impact mood (serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine). If you lack this all important vitamin, you may be shorting your mind as well as your body. Older adults, those with digestive disorders and vegetarians may find that they have a hard time getting enough of B-vitamins (it is found in many meats). You can either take supplements or add more B vitamin rich food to your diet, such as:
Fish (Mackerel), Cheese, Shellfish, Spinach, Bell peppers and Turkey
- 6. Load up on pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain healthy fats and magnesium, both of which can help lighten your mood. They also contain L-tryptophan, an amino acid that is involved in the production of serotonin.
Eat a cup of pumpkin seeds once a day.
- See a counsellor
A counsellor will be able to tell you if you need serious medical help or not. It's amazing how quickly talking about your depression with a professional counsellor, can uncover things that afterwards might seem obvious, but in the moment of darkness are impossible to see.
Meditation can help promote relaxation, which has been found to be helpful for depression. Meditation will help create an amount of balance in the nervous system. This would enable the glands to return to a correct state of hormonal balance and thereby overcome the feeling of depression. The person must gain control over his nervous system and channelise this mental and emotional activities in to restful harmonious vibrations. This can be achieved by ensuring sufficient rest and sleep under right conditions.
Yoga involves meditation with physical postures, breathing techniques and relaxation. Yoga practices vary and some may not be recommended to people with certain medical conditions.
Yogasans such as Surya Namaskar, Vakrasana, Halasan, Paschimotanasana, Bhujangasana, Shalbhasana, Sarvangasana and Shavasana and Pranayamas like Kapalbhati, Anuloma-Viloma and Bhastrika are highly beneficial in the treatment of depression.
- Music Therapy
Music therapy has been shown to be an effective non-drug approach for people of all ages that assist in reducing fear, anxiety, stress or grief. Music can be thought of as a natural tranquiliser for the human spirit. Following are the some ancient Indian classical ragas found to be soothing the mind and curing the depression.
1. Raag darbari – for mind concentration, grief
2. Puria kalyan – for Anxiety
3. Puria – for fobia
4. Kedar – for insomania, memory impairment, mental retardation
5. Bhairvi – for insomania
6. Sham kalyan – for anger
7. Raag kedar bihag – for insomania
Massage uses touch to help provide relaxation. Most touch therapies are based on the premises that the mind and body are interconnected and that physical health and emotional well-being are closely linked. The belief is that, when the body is relaxed, the mind contributes to better health, less depression and overall well-being.
Exercise produces chemical and psychological changes that improves in blood and may elevate your beta-endorphin (mood – affecting brain chemicals). It not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit but also provides recreation and mental relaxation. It is nature’s best tranquiliser. Exercise gives a feeling of accomplishment and thus reduces the sense of helplessness. Exercise temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It may also have long-term benefits for people with depression.
On the other hand, some people suffering from depression find it almost impossible to get motivated enough to start a regular exercise routine. If you'd like to try exercise as a means of fighting your depression, but just can't seem to work up the will to do it, talk to a trusted friend or loved one and ask them to help you get out and start doing it.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week to begin to feel a sustained effect on your mood. It may take a few weeks to really notice a change.
- Get some sunshine
Lack of sufficient sunshine is the reason behind seasonal affective depression (SAD).
Your body naturally produces vitamin D, which is known to help combat depression and mood swings, when your skin is exposed to the sun. Make a commitment to expose yourself to the sunshine, for at least 15 or 20 minutes, whenever you have the chance.
- Get enough sleep
Depression can make it hard to get enough sleep and not getting enough sleep can make depression worse. What can you do? Start by making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom, no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves.