What is Depression?
It is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.
It is psychological conditions that involves chemical imbalance in the brain.
Many people use the word “depression” to explain their feeling sometimes, but depression is much more than just sadness. We all feel sad or worried at some point in our lives but when it interferes with day to day life, normal functioning, and causes problem for you as well as for the person who care about you. Depression is a very common but serious illness, and most that experience it need treatment to get better.
Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the vast majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with or without treatment. Intensive research into the illness has resulted in the development of medications, psychotherapies, and other methods to treat people with this disabling disorder. People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.
Formal Diagnosis of Major Depression
According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, 1994.
For your convenience, a general listing of signs and symptoms of depression, the translated version, follows the formal diagnostic criteria, for ease in interpreting the symptoms.
For a diagnosis of a major depression:
- At least 5 of the following symptoms.
- These symptoms must be present during the same 2 week period.
- These symptoms must represent a change from a previous level of functioning.
- Depressed mood, nearly every day during most of the day.
- Marked diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities.
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting), weight gain, or a change in appetite.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excess sleep).
- Psychomotor agitation or psychomotor retardation.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
- Impaired ability to concentrate or indecisiveness
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal
Some Facts about Depression:
The commission on mental health concluded that one person out of seven living in the United States, would at some point or other will require professional treatment for emotional disturbances.
- By the year 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression will be the number two cause of “lost years of healthy life” worldwide.
- Out of an estimated 17.5 million Americans who are affected by some form of depression, 9.2 million have major or clinical depression.
- Women experience depression about twice as often as men.
- Two-thirds of people suffering from depression do not seek necessary treatment.
- 80% of all people with clinical depression who have received treatment significantly improve their lives.
- The economic cost of depression is estimated at $30.4 billion a year but the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.
- Major Depression is 15-30% more common among first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorder than among the general population.
- According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in the United States in 1996.
- Depressive disorders may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.
- Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorder and substance abuse.
Are you depressed?
If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
- you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
- Loss of interest of pleasure in nearly all activities
- you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
- you feel hopeless and helpless
- you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how hard you try
- you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
- you are much more irritable and short-tempered than usual
- Suicidal thoughts. You have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)
Signs and symptoms of depression
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that’s when it’s time to seek help.
- Sad, low, empty, depressed mood or feelings.
- Loss of interest of pleasure in nearly all activities
- Feelings of worthlessness, or guilt.
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions.
- Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling
- Changes in appetite and/or weight.
- Oversleeping, early-morning awakening, or insomnia
- Thoughts of death, suicide, plans or attempts
- Thoughts of death, suicide, plans or attempts
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness-nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
- Irritability or restlessness. Feeling agitated, restless, or on edge. Your tolerance level is low; everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Reasons of depression:
- Besides chemical imbalance. It could be hereditary.
- Death or sickness in the family, financial loss of money or job may also lead to it.
- Relationship issues. Breakup, separation and divorce.
- Peer pressure or trouble with law.
- Academics : Failing in exam or unemployment.
- Some diseases, bipolar disorder, Parkinsonism and many other chronic diseases.
- Socio economic Factor: “Poverty is pain; it feels like a disease. It attacks a person not only materially but also morally. It eats away at one’s dignity and drives one into total despair ” A woman Republic of Moldova
Types of Depression:
Generally three types: Mild, Moderate and Severe based on the severity of the symptoms.
What are the different forms of depression?
There are several forms of depressive disorders.
The most common are major depressive disorder and Dysthymic disorder.
Major depressive disorder, also called major depression, is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. An episode of major depression may occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.
Dysthymic disorder, also called dysthymia, is characterized by long–term (two years or longer) but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning normally or feeling well. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
Some forms of depressive disorder exhibit slightly different characteristics than those described above, or they may develop under unique circumstances. However, not all scientists agree on how to characterize and define these forms of depression.
Psychotic depression, which occurs when a severe depressive illness is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as a break with reality, hallucinations, and delusions.
Postpartum depression, which is diagnosed if a new mother develops a major depressive episode within one month after delivery. It is estimated that 10 to 15 percent of women experience postpartum depression after giving birth.1
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by the onset of a depressive illness during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. The depression generally lifts during spring and summer. SAD may be effectively treated with light therapy, but nearly half of those with SAD do not respond to light therapy alone.
Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes-from extreme highs (e.g., mania) to extreme lows (e.g., depression).
Treatment for depression:
First kind mild depression can go away itself without any medication. Taking to friend you trust always helpful. In moderate and sever depression : It is advised to take treatment of your choice. You can choose to take conventional treatment but when you miss a dose or stop them sometimes withdrawal symptoms are even more severe than actual depression. These strong medicines have their own side-effects
Homeopathic Treatment for depression:
Yale University has published study few years ago results showing that for 68% of people taking antidepressant drugs were totally ineffective.
- We live in an overmedicated society. About ten percent of Americans, twenty-seven million people, were taking antidepressants in 2005, having doubled in ten years.
- It is interesting to note that up to eighty percent of these prescriptions were made by physicians other than psychiatrists. This includes twice as many prescriptions for both adults and, frequently off-label, for children as young as age five.
- Well-documented side effects of antidepressants include loss of libido and weight gain, both of which, ironically, often lead to diminished self-esteem and passion for life.
The common wisdom in conventional medical circles is that the options are either to take antidepressant medications for ever or to remain depressed. This is a misconception.
- Homeopathy, on the other hand, is highly individualized. A homeopath selects the best-indicated medicine from over two thousand different natural substances. That is why the initial interview is thorough, lengthy, and explores the individual’s symptoms and state in great depth.
- Homeopathic medicines do not cause any of the side effects, which is a relief to patients, and typically work just as quickly and, often, with a even greater degree of success than antidepressants.
- In addition, the correct homeopathic medicine addresses not only the psychological state of the patient, but all of the other physical complaints as well. In other words, if an individual suffers from depression, migraines, and asthma, the appropriate homeopathic medicine will address all three conditions rather than requiring an antidepressant, pain medication, and bronchodilator. In many cases, even if a person suffers primarily from mental and emotional problems, for example, depression, anxiety, and attention problems, he is likely to be taking three different psychiatric medications, rather than just an antidepressant.
- An additional complication of pharmaceutical drugs for the treatment of depression is the common difficulty of discontinuing the medications. Many of those on antidepressants, particularly You may find it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to discontinue the drugs.
- These do not cause any severe withdrawal symptoms if you stop them or miss a dose.
Good homeopathic remedies:
Arsenicum album: Anxious, insecure, and perfectionistic people who need this remedy may set high standards for themselves and others and become depressed if their expectations are not met. Worry about material security sometime s borders on despair. When feeling ill, these people can be demanding and dependent, even suspicious of others, fearing their condition could be serious.
Aurum metallicum: This remedy can be helpful to serious people, strongly focused on work and achievement, who become depressed if they feel they have failed in some way. Discouragement, self-reproach, humiliation, and anger can lead to feelings of emptiness and worthlessness. The person may feel worse at night, with nightmares or insomnia.
Calcarea carbonica: A dependable, industrious person who becomes overwhelmed from too much worry, work, or physical illness may benefit from this remedy. Anxiety, fatigue, confusion, discouragement, self-pity, and a dread of disaster may develop. A person who needs this remedy often feels chilly and sluggish and easily tires on exertion.
Causticum: A person who feels depressed because of grief and loss (either recent or over time) may benefit from this remedy. Frequent crying or a feeling of mental dullness and forgetfulness (with anxious checking to see if the door is locked, if the stove is off, etc.) are other indications. People who need this remedy are often deeply sympathetic toward others and, having a strong sense of justice, can be deeply discouraged or angry about the world.
Cimicifuga: A person who needs this remedy can be energetic and talkative when feeling well, but upset and gloomy when depressed—with exaggerated fears (of insanity, of being attacked, of disaster). Painful menstrual periods and headaches that involve the neck are often seen when this remedy is needed.
Ignatia amara: Sensitive people who suffer grief or disappointment and try to keep the hurt inside may benefit from this remedy. Wanting not to cry or appear too vulnerable to others, they may seem guarded, defensive, and moody. They may also burst out laughing, or into tears, for no apparent reason. A feeling of a lump in the throat and heaviness in the chest with frequent sighing or yawning are strong indications for Ignatia. Insomnia (or excessive sleeping), headaches, and cramping pains in the abdomen and back are also often seen.
Kali phosphoricum: If a person feels depressed after working too hard, being physically ill, or going through prolonged emotional stress or excitement, this remedy can be helpful. Exhausted, nervous, and jumpy, they may have difficulty working or concentrating—and become discouraged and lose confidence. Headaches from mental effort, easy perspiration, sensitivity to cold, anemia, insomnia, and indigestion are often seen when this remedy is needed.
Natrum carbonicum: Individuals who need this remedy are usually mild, gentle, and selfless—making an effort to be cheerful and helpful, and avoiding conflict whenever possible. After being hurt or disappointed, they can become depressed, but keep their feelings to themselves. Even when feeling lonely, they withdraw to rest or listen to sad music, which can isolate them even more. Nervous and physically sensitive (to sun, to weather changes, and to many foods, especially milk), they may also get depressed when feeling weak or ill.
Natrum muriaticum: People who need this remedy seem reserved, responsible, and private—yet have strong inner feelings (grief, romantic attachment, anger, or fear of misfortune) that they rarely show. Even though they want other people to feel for them, they can act affronted or angry if someone tries to console them, and need to be alone to cry. Anxiety, brooding about past grievances, migraines, back pain, and insomnia can also be experienced when the person is depressed. A craving for salt and tiredness from sun exposure are other indications for this remedy.
Pulsatilla: People who needs this remedy have a childlike softness and sensitivity—and can also be whiny, jealous, and moody. When depressed, they are sad and tearful, wanting a lot of attention and comforting. Crying, fresh air, and gentle exercise usually improve their mood. Getting too warm or being in a stuffy room can increase anxiety. Depression around the time of hormonal changes (puberty, menstrual periods, or menopause) can often be helped with Pulsatilla.
Sepia: People who feel weary, irritable, and indifferent to family members, and worn out by the demands of everyday life may respond to this remedy. They want to be left alone and may respond in an angry or cutting way if anyone bothers them. They often feel better from crying, but would rather have others keep their distance and not try to console them or cheer them up. Menstrual problems, a sagging feeling in internal organs, sluggish digestion, and improvement from vigorous exercise are other indications for this remedy.
Staphysagria: Quiet, sensitive, emotional people who have difficulty standing up for themselves may benefit from this remedy. Hurt feelings, shame, resentment, and suppressed emotions can lead them to depression. If under too much pressure, they can sometimes lose their natural inhibition and fly into rages or throw things. A person who needs this remedy may also have insomnia (feeling sleepy all day, but unable to sleep at night), toothaches, headaches, stomachaches, or bladder infections that are stress-related.
Life style or dietary Treatment:
- Light exercise (walking is good), balanced diet and stress free life style is helpful.
- Eat lots of fruit and green vegetables. Organic are best choice.
- Don’t use alcohol or any other triggering agents.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. NutraSweet is aspartame, contains methanol which is deadly poison.
- Avoid chemical load to the body.
- Avoid E.M.F s ( avoid or use less computers, less hours on TV or cell phone microwaves)
- Add plants to your house. They add oxygen to air, balance life energy and produce life enhancing negative ions which are beneficial to health.
- Give and receive hugs. Human contact provides sense of caring and helps to strengthen immune system.
- Foot massage: It does not help only the circulation to do functioning but also stimulates motor nervous system promoting sense of well being.
- Listening to music and praying helps to cancel negative energy around you.
Friday sundown to Saturday sun down: Each week the moon cycle is in a position to promote natural healing and rejuvenation in the body. Resting during this time promote optimal rejuvenation to your cells.
Supplement used to treat Depression:
- Folic acid / Folate (Vitamin B9): The synthetic form of folate, vitamin B9, is found in fruits, asparagus, leafy vegetables, and other foods. Most people with depression have low folate levels in their bodies; therefore, folates are one of the best supplements for depression and anxiety.
- Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids: Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 (found in fish such as salmon and tuna), and omega-6 fatty acids (found in corn and soybean oils) play a crucial role in the function of serotonin and dopamine. Regularly eating foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can be the best supplements for depression.
- Vitamin B1: Vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamine, converts glucose into energy. Deficiency of this natural supplement can cause depression, anxiety, and fatigue.
- Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacin, is another good natural supplement that helps fight depression. Deficiency in niacin produces anxiety along with fatigue and overall slowness.
- Vitamin B5: Vitamin B5, otherwise known as pantothenic acid, is considered to be a good supplement for depression. Deficiency in pantothenic acid may cause fatigue and depression.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6, otherwise known as pyridoxine, is a source of serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Its deficiency can cause mental confusion. Many dieticians believe that most diets do not provide sufficient amounts of this vitamin.
- St. John’s wort: St. John’s wort has consistently been considered a good herbal supplement for depression.
- Saffron: Saffron is a spice that is used in cooking and also in traditional Persian medicine as a natural supplement for depression. However, it has only been effective in mild cases of depression
- Vitamin D: Supplementation may be helpful in easing depressive symptoms during the winter months. Older people with low levels of vitamin D and high levels of parathyroid hormone are more likely to suffer from low mood. You may consider supplementing with 1000 to 2000 units of cholecalciferol (D3)each day.
- 5_HTP: 5_HTP : starts working within hours. 5-HTP converts into serotonin , an important brain chemical involved in mood, appetite, and impulse control. 5HTP suits those whose depression is associated with anxiety, restlessness, or racing thoughts. Only disadvantage is that it reduces sex drive.
Depression and suicide
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it’s a cry for help.
Warning signs of suicide include:
- Talking about killing or harming one’s self
- Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
- An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
- Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
- Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
- Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
- Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out.”
- A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy.
If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern .Take it serious and never leave the person alone.
DSM: Diagnostic Statistical Manual is the Manual of Mental Disorder guide book used by physicians in United States.