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Depression: The Basics

 

How many times have you been told "it's all in your head"?  Or maybe some  has told you to "just get over it and get on with your life"? 

 

Oh, yes, these folks mean well.  But they just don't understand. Depression affects not only your thoughts and 

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moods, as you might expect, but also your behavior and physical health.

 

Today, more than ever, the medical community realizes that depression is more than just a mental state it's a medical disorder with both a biological and chemical origin.

 

And you should know that depression is not something that you can just ignore and hope it goes away.

 

Sometimes it's hard to say what triggers a depression.  At times it could be a stressful situation, other times it seems to hit like a bolt out of the blue.  Whether you've experienced an acute version of depression a single, isolated episode or a chronic condition an ongoing, recurring problem, depression disrupts your life . . . as well as those around you.

 

The sad part is that most people suffering never seek any type of help even though there are plenty of methods available to make you feel better.

 

While everyone reacts to depression differently, medical experts at the Mayo Clinic have identified two hallmark symptoms of depression: apathy in your normal day-to-day activities and a depressed mood.  Activities that used to provide you with joy and pleasure no longer interest you.  This apathetic attitude even extends to such intimate activities as your sex life.  If you had a full and active sex life prior to the depression, you may find that you have lost any real interest in it during your depressive state.

 

Moreover, you feel sad, may experience unexplained bouts of sobbing or you just may feel helpless or feel your situation is hopeless.

 

But more than that, there are some physical symptoms that are identified with a depression.  For example, many individuals say that their normal sleep patterns are disrupted.  Some say they just can't get enough sleep.  At other times, they may complain that they wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and are unable to fall back asleep

 

Another symptom of depression is the inability to concentrate.  Your thought processes may be impaired, resulting in difficulties in making decisions as well as problems with your memory.  Many people who suffer from depression say that it feels as if their mind is in a "perpetual fog."

 

Along with the depression, you may also feel more restless and agitated than usual.  You may discover that you are short-tempered with your family or co-workers.

 

Fluctuations in weight are also noticeable in some individuals suffering with this disorder.  In some individuals this manifests itself in a weight gain as they eat more and do less.  Others, however, may display a weight loss, as they tend to lose an interest in eating.

 

Fatigue and a general slowing of your body movements are two additional symptoms of this health concern.  You not only feel weary, but sometimes you body even feels heavier than what it is.  It's as if as hard as you try, your body can't get enough rest.  You feel as tired in the morning when you arise as you did when you went to bed the night before.

 

If you suffer from depression, you'll notice that you have a lower level of self-esteem.  This exhibits itself in feelings of worthlessness as well a veil of excessive guilt for no apparent reason.

 

Finally, many who are depressed and continue experiencing a negative self image may actually think of death, dying and the idea of committing suicide.

 

 

Depression: Causes and risk factors

 

Medical science has yet to pinpoint a single cause for depression.  Nor does it have an explanation why the same set of circumstances may affect two individuals in two distinct ways. An event that may trigger a depression in one person may not inflict any emotional damage on another.

 

Science has discovered that depression often runs in families.  If someone in your family has it, they may pass the tendency for depression down to their children.  This explanation though doesn't fully explain the complexity and intricacies of this disorder or predict with any accuracy who is at risk.

 

In fact, experts are leaning towards the idea that this often misunderstood disorder has several causes and not just a single origin.  They are reviewing the possibility that an individual could possess a genetic vulnerability to depression.  When the precise mix of environmental factors are present, this vulnerability prompts the depression.

 

The brain, during a depressive state possesses an imbalance in three neurotransmitters chemical substances that carry nerve impulses across the brain cells synapses.  These chemicals are called serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine and appear to be linked in some way to depression.Scientists have yet to fully understand the exact role these neurotransmitters play, though.  It's really a version of the age-old question:  which came first the chicken or the egg.  Are the alterations in the neurotransmitters the cause of the result of the depression?

 

For everything that is still a mystery about depression, there are some factors that medical science knows for a fact do contribute to this disorder. 

 

Heredity. While it does appear that several specific genes are identified with depression, it still doesn't explain why some members in a family seem immune to the health problem.  Nor does it adequately answer the question of why certain individuals with no family history of depression are prone to it.

 

Stress.  A traumatic event, such as a death in the family or a job loss, can prompt a depression.  Again, even though science understands this to be a trigger, every individual reacts to stress event differently.  Some people may experience an acute short term depression, for others this may be the start of a chronic condition.  And yet others can remain seemingly oblivious to the stress and fly through the event unaffected. Moreover, a stressful event need not be traumatic.  Sometimes the stress associated with normally joyful events may produce an unexpected depression.

 

Hormones.  Oh, yes.  Everyone has heard of those "raging hormones" that women are said to have.  Well, the truth is that women do experience depression at about twice the rate as men.  This has led researchers to consider that hormonal influences may factor into the development of depression.

 

Personality types.  It appears, according to some medical experts, that certain personality types are just more vulnerable to developing depression.  Especially at risk are those who possess a low self esteem as well as those who are extremely self critical or overwhelmed by the onset of stressful episodes in their lives.  An additional personality type more susceptible to depression is the pessimist.  Individuals who are extraordinarily dependent on others are more prone to being depressed as well.

 

Drug abuse.  Those individual who abuse illegal drugs, as well as those who drink alcohol in excess or are dependent on nicotine are more likely to become depressed.  Initially, medical science believed these activities to be a coping mechanism for an already present depression.  Now, they think that the actual use of these substances contribute to the depression.

 

Prescription medications.  Perhaps the most overlooked of the causes, use of certain prescription drugs can cause depression.  This is especially the case with the long-term use of high blood pressure drugs sleeping pills or even birth control pills in some cases.

 

Illness.  Being subjected to a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer can certainly put a person at a greater risk of developing an accompanying depression.  Even something as seemingly as insignificant as an under active thyroid hypothyroidism can trigger a depression.

 

 


Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Home
Subscribe!
What's New?

Mother's Tea
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Best Articles
Breastfeeding
Dear Mother Dear
Reader Letters
Eternally Pregnant
Circumcision
 

Site Features

Book Reviews
Mother Books
Cartoons!
Poems
Links
Birth Stories
Site Map
Advertising

Contact Us


Birth, Joy, & Raspberry Leaves
-a new video compiled by Catherine and Amanda Young
of The Compleat Mother

Go HERE for more information on the waterbirth video!


Click here to read: The Farmer and the Obstetrician

Click here for the Home Sweet Homebirth (Video)

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Greg Cryns
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