What is depression ?Mayoclinic.com describes depression as a condition that is associated with the constant feeling of sadness as well as a loss of interest in everything. It is important that one does not confuse depression with mood swings.
Symptoms of Depression
Attitude of Gloom
The people, who were once known to be happy, suddenly become very gloomy and dull. They seem to find no reason to enjoy life. The feeling of doom also seems to overshadow them and this often makes them suicidal. Such people prefer to stay away from company and tend to spend many hours in isolation.
Loss of Interest and Self-Confidence
The affected people tend to lose interest in things that they used to be interested in before. Hobbies are often neglected and forgotten. Life becomes mundane and unappealing to such people. They also lose their self-confidence as they consider themselves worthless. Such people often lack the confidence to compete in class activities or to apply for a job. Such people prefer isolation as they lack the confidence to be in the company of others.
People who suffer from depression tend to sleep during the day, as they are unable to get sleep at night. This is referred to as insomnia. Due to this, the affected person finds it hard to focus on anything throughout the day as he has been deprived of a good night's rest.
In some cases, the affected people might over-indulge in food and this might cause them to put on excess weight. However, in other cases, depression can cause the affected people to refrain from consuming proper amounts of food. This might make them weak and thin.
Causes of Depression
Dr. Rita Wicks-Nelson and Dr. Allen Israel have written about the involvement of genetic factors in the problem of depression. This has been mentioned in their book, 'Behavior Disorders of Childhood'. It has been discovered that children whose parents have suffered from depression are more likely to develop the symptoms of this condition than those who have no such family history of depression.
It has been discovered that certain chemicals play a very important role in bringing on the problem of depression. These chemicals or neurotransmitters must be present in the brain in very moderate amounts. However, when the body becomes deficient in them or when they are produced in excess, they can have a negative impact on the mental health of the person and this can give rise to the problem of depression. Hormonal imbalances in the body can also cause the person to develop depression.
People who have unsupportive family members often become prone to suffering from depression. According to Dr. Merrell, children who have strained ties with their family members or those who witness violence at home are more likely to develop depression than others who have good relations with their family members. Poor communication skills with family members can also cause the build-up of stress and this can develop into depression.
Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this is one of the most common forms of depression. People who suffer from this form of depression are often suicidal. However, this does not necessarily happen in every case of major depressive disorder. Psychology Information Online has stated this fact. The symptoms of this condition often have a very negative impact on the life of the affected individual. According to the NIMH, the patient might experience recurring episodes of this disorder throughout his lifetime.
This form of depression is not as severe as major depressive disorder. People who suffer from this kind of depression tend to feel extremely happy when they are in the company of their friends or family members. However, as soon as this time is over, they tend to fall into a state of gloom. The medication that is used to treat this form of depression is completely different from the medication that is used to counter major depressive disorder.
People who suffer from manic depression tend to have severe fluctuations in their mood. Such people might be extremely happy for a few days. This is often followed by several days of gloominess during which the patient often develops suicidal tendencies. Manic depression is rather uncommon. However, it is extremely important to monitor those who are suffering from this condition.
This form of depression is not as severe as major depressive disorder. However, many cases of dysthymic disorder progress and become cases of major depressive disorder. People who suffer from this condition are able to lead a normal life, to a great extent. They experience constant bouts of happiness and gloom. However, the patient might also have a normal state of mind on many occasions. Psychology Information Online says that the symptoms of this condition are not so easy to treat, as they are often resistant to various medicines.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
This form of depression is common among people who are very young. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this condition can be effectively treated by exposing the person to artificial light. This is also known as light therapy. In cases where this is not very effective, the patient might need antidepressants and several other forms of treatment.
Home Remedies for Depression
St. John's Wort
This herb is very effective in the treatment of mild depression. Its effectiveness is due to the presence of two compounds in it, namely hypericin and hyperforin. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that St. John's wort is able to prevent the absorption of serotonin by the nerve cells that are present in the human brain. This chemical is responsible for the mood fluctuations and cognitive functions of the human body. Due to stabilizing action of this herb on the mental state of the person, it is often used to treat other mood-related disorders as well. These include anxiety and mood swings.
The main action of this herb is on the chemical cortisol, which is also known as the 'stress hormone' of the human body. Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which is a chemical that is able to hinder the production of cortisol in the body. When this happens, the symptoms of depression also start to fade away and the mood of the person stabilizes. However, it is important to mention that licorice root can interact with certain medicines and cause complications in the body. This is why it is important to consult your physician before attempting to make use of this herb.
This herb has been used extensively to treat various conditions. It is extremely popular in places such as Russia and China. Siberian ginseng has a stabilizing effect on the mood of the affected person. This is why it is considered to be an adaptogen. Siberian ginseng can be used to calm people who are in very stressful situations. However, make sure to consume this herb only on the advice of your physician as it can interact with blood pressure medicines and certain other prescription medicines.
This herb has also been used to treat a wide range of mood-related disorders. It has brought about significant improvement in many cases of depression. It is an effective sedative and can be consumed in the form of supplements or as tea. The liquid extract of this herb is also readily available everywhere. However, chamomile can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals and so it is important to take this herb only under the guidance of a medical expert.
Ding Xin Wan
This Chinese herbal remedy has been able to treat many cases of depression. This remedy is able to counter the symptoms of depression, which include insomnia, loss of appetite and irritability. This herbal remedy has been used to treat such conditions, since ancient times. It is considered one of the best remedies for the treatment of such conditions.
A.A. Noorbala and his team conducted studies on the effectiveness of this herb in the treatment of depression, as compared to a commonly used drug called Prozac. The conclusions of this research were published in the 'Journal of Ethnopharmacology'. It was then discovered that saffron is just as effective as Prozac, in the treatment of depression. According to the Institute of Traditional Medicine, the affected people can consume thirty milligrams of saffron in two doses, on a daily basis. This helps to bring the symptoms of depression under control.
This herb is extremely beneficial in the treatment of depression that is associated with menopause. This has been stated by the American Academy of Family Physicians. It has a stabilizing effect on the mood of the person when it is consumed on a regular basis. Black Cohosh is considered one of the best remedies for the treatment of any kind of mood disorder. It is just as effective as St. John's wort. However, there have been speculations regarding the consumption of this herb and the onset of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor regarding the safety of consuming this herb before you actually start consuming it.
The essential oil of this herb has a very positive effect on the mental state of the human body. This oil is used extensively in aromatherapy. It helps to calm the mind and induces sleep as well. According to the UMMC, this herb can be used to supplement the treatment of depression. Apart from using this oil in aromatherapy, one can even use lavender oil for massaging the skin. This helps to induce sleep and prevents mood swings.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, valerian is very effective in the treatment of sleeplessness, which is often associated with this condition. Valerian can be used to treat anxiety as well. According to the 'Insight Journal', this herb has a very calming effect on the nerves and this makes it very beneficial in the treatment of this condition. The UMMC states that valerian is an herb that is safe to consume and can be used to treat mild and severe cases of depression.
According to HolisticOnline.com, this herb is considered to be very effective in the treatment of conditions such as depression. The highlight of this herb is that it does not cause any major side effects even when it is consumed with other herbs. This is because it does not interact with drugs and supplements. It might only cause minor side effects such as nausea and diarrhoea. However, these side effects normally occur only when the herb is consumed in large amounts. This is why it is important to check with your physician regarding the accurate dosage of this herb.
Other Home Remedies for Depression
- Rose petal tea is considered effective in reducing the symptoms of depression. To prepare this home remedy, add a few rose petals to a glass of water and boil it for around 10 minutes. Add some sugar to the tea and allow it to cool. Consume it whenever you suffer from the symptoms of depression.
- Consume a mixture of quarter teaspoonful of nutmeg powder and 2 teaspoons of amla juice. Consume this mixture at least two times each day.
- Licorice tea is considered an effective remedy for treating depression. To prepare the tea, add some licorice root to water and boil it for about 15-20 minutes. Allow it to cool and consume it at least two times each day.
- Apples, when consumed along with milk and honey, are considered effective in the treatment of depression.
- Add half a teaspoon of cardamom powder along with sugar to a glass of boiling water. Allow it to cool and consume it on empty stomach.
- Add a teaspoon of lavender leaves to a glass of boiling water and stir until it cools down. Consume this tea at least two times each day.
- Add some chamomile to a glass of boiling water and strain it after around 10 minutes. Consume this tea 1-2 times each day.
Diet for Depression
Consume Foods Rich in B-vitamins
According to Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, a renowned psychiatrist, a clear link has been discovered between depression and vitamin B deficiencies. People who are in a state of depression are often not interested in eating regular, balanced meals and so they tend to become deficient in various vitamins and minerals. When the body becomes deficient in b vitamins, the mental health of the person is affected in a negative way and the symptoms of depression worsen. In such cases, the patients are advised to consume foods that are rich in these vitamins in order to alleviate the symptoms of this condition.
Consume Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates have an elevating effect on the mood of the affected person. This is because they act on the neurotransmitters, which in turn affect the mood of the person. Serotonin is one such neurotransmitter that is affected in a positive way by this food group. This is why people who are suffering from depression are advised to include complex carbohydrates in their diet. Whole wheat bread, pasta and sweet potatoes are good sources of complex carbohydrates.
Avoid High Fat Foods
According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, people who consume fatty foods are at an increased risk of developing depression as compared to those who consume healthy food. Fatty foods also tend to aggravate the symptoms of depression in those individuals who are already suffering from this condition. This is why it is important to avoid the consumption of such foods as far as possible.
Other Treatment Options for Depression
SNRIS or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are a certain class of drugs that are used extensively in the treatment of depression. The action of such drugs is on two neurotransmitters, namely serotonin and norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter, which is responsible for attention and arousal among several other functions. The action of this neurotransmitter is on areas of the brain, which are known as reward structures.
These drugs were used extensively in the late 20th century. However, with the advent of science and medicine, these drugs are not in much use now. This is due to the fact that they cause the patient to suffer from a wide range of side effects. These drugs help in treating depression by hindering the absorption of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Common tricyclic antidepressants include amoxapine, doxepin and trimipramine among others.
It has been discovered that vitamin D plays a very important role in preventing and treating mild forms of depression. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that can be treated rather easily with the help of this vitamin. Very mild cases of SAD can be treated by exposing the skin to the rays of the sun for a short period of time every day. In severe cases, the patient might need to consume vitamin D supplements regularly until the symptoms disappear.
Ways to Prevent Depression
Communicate With Others
People who have a good rapport with their friends are able to keep depression and other mental disorders at bay. This is because such people are able to share their problems and fears with their friends and family members. As a result of this, they are able to keep stress away and are able to enjoy life.
Exercise on a Regular Basis
It has been stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that people who exercise regularly are less likely to develop depression than others who do not lead a healthy lifestyle. This is because any form of exercise causes the release of endorphins. These endorphins are chemicals and are responsible for boosting the mood of the person.
Keep Yourself Busy
It is important to keep your mind busy with varied tasks. This helps to keep boredom at bay. People who spend many hours doing nothing, tend to brood on their problems and this can eventually lead to depression. You must cultivate new hobbies in order to keep your mind alert and creative. You must also get involved in activities, which involve relating to the needs of other people. This helps to keep self-pity and gloom away.