What is depression?

Everyone gets sad or down occasionally, but the feelings usually get better quickly.

Depression is much different because it’s a medical condition defined as a constant feeling of sadness, hopelessness and emptiness which lasts longer than 2 weeks.

What are some symptoms of depression?

• Inability to find pleasure in activities that used to be pleasurable
• Overindulging with alcohol and or drugs
• Lack of interest in sex
• Difficulty concentrating.
• Unable to make decisions
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Unable to work or care for self
• Inability to sleep, waking early am or excessive sleep
• Lack of interest in eating or overeating.
• Difficulty concentrating or remembering
• Loss of energy
• Anxiety
• Unable to perform day to day activities
• thoughts of suicide and hopelessness
• Social withdrawal
• Persistent crying

Sometimes depression causes symptoms not immediately linked to depression. A few examples include headache, diarrhea, constipation, chest pain, cramping, body pain, agitation and/or restlessness.

Is depression in children the same as it is in adults?

In some ways, yes but in other ways not really.

Children can exhibit sadness like adults, but they have other problems specific to their age. Such as:

• Getting into trouble at school
• Refusing to go to school
• Avoiding friends or siblings
• Thoughts of death or suicide
• Difficulty concentrating,
• Decline in school performance & changes in grades
• Loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain
• Becoming aggressive
• Use drugs alcohol or smoking

What type of person is at risk for depression?

Below are some risk factors which may be involved

• Low self-esteem or being self-critical
• Fluctuating, unbalanced or low hormone levels (such as estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men) Changing hormone levels can strike at any age, especially in women because of the changes that happen with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. As men and women age the diminishing hormone levels
• Become more exaggerated causing depressive symptoms in menopausal women and andropausal men
• Family history of depression or other mood disorders
• Personal history of mental illness
• Stressful events such as loss of a job, trauma, loss of a loved one, work responsibilities, poor relationship with your significant other, caring for children and aging parents, divorce.
• Certain medications
• History of abuse, sexual or otherwise as a child may result in depression as an adult
• Chronic pain and illness
• Inappropriate use of drugs or alcohol
• Low thyroid hormone
• Low vitamin B12 or B6, D3

What is the difference between grief and depression?

Grief is a natural response of overwhelming sadness due to a significant loss. It is a temporary situation which usually decreases with time. Depression, on the other hand, can last throughout life.

Is there treatment for depression?

Yes. Treatment should be sought out at the first signs and symptoms of depression. Do not let it develop into thoughts of hopelessness or suicide.

The best treatment approach is a combination of lifestyle changes and medical management with the assistance of highly trained therapists. Treatment can involve talk therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can prescribe medications like anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications if necessary. Sometimes supplements like St. John’s wort, 5-HTP or SAM E can be used with your doctor’s approval. If depression is due to low thyroid or vitamin levels sometimes just taking those will stop the depression.

Lifestyle changes which can help include:

• Stress reduction (meditate, read, hot baths, yoga)
• Sleep at least 7 hrs.-8 hrs. nightly
• Exercise-cardiovascular for 1 hour daily
• Seek help to stop drinking, smoking and using drugs
• Add Omega 3 fatty acids in high dose
• Follow a low sugar/low carbohydrate diet