Tagged in: Depression

Grappling With Depression

People always confuse depression with sadness. They fail to realize that the intense sadness they feel, coupled with a loss of appetite, lack of interest in activities and lowered concentration levels is a mental disorder called depression. When you are sad or feeling blue, this emotion may last for a few days. Depression, however, is a more serious disorder and it can last for weeks, months, or even years. Depression tends to put you off the most mundane of everyday tasks, like dressing up, looking good, eating, socializing and working.
 
It gets difficult to recognize a person suffering from depression as the symptoms of this illness are not physically visible or obvious to the eye. The most reliable way to know that you are grappling with depression is self-awareness. Our body throws us warning signs that we need to pay close attention to. Depression can be cured, but it needs to be brought to the attention of a doctor or a mental health professional at the earliest sign of trouble.
 
Let us read through some important aspects that must be explored in order to understand depression.
 
Truths about Depression
 
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As depression is a growing concern in today’s society, you will find many people advising you on what depression actually is and how it must be treated. It’s not something that will go away by itself. A depressed individual must proactively work towards curing his/her depression. Talking about it, especially to a doctor or psychiatrist, is likely to help. If you feel depressed and talk it out with a friend or a family member, you are likely to receive advise such as getting yourself involved in other pleasurable activities. But doing this will seem like a herculean task. Depression makes you lose interest in almost all activities, so forcing yourself to do something may depress you even more instead of making you feel better.
 
Battle of the Sexes
 
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Depression is more obvious and noticeable in women compared to men. This is because men do not share their feelings the way women do. Women are easier to talk to and they tend to pour out their troubles to loved ones, family and friends. Men, on the other hand, either end up with displaying sudden bouts of anger, irritability and frustration. Depression may even lead to drug and alcohol abuse.
 
Depression Affects the Functioning of the Brain
 
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Our brain is the most active part of our body. There are constant signals being passed through the nerves that run through our entire body. When depression kicks in, the brain’s functions start to falter. Certain studies have proven that depression causes abnormal behavior in the brain. The brain is unable to function in a normal manner, thus resulting in lack of concentration, mood swings and provoked thoughts of committing suicide.
 
Antidepressants
 
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Depression is a mental illness – and it is curable. With the appropriate treatment solutions, an individual can be back to normal within a matter of a few weeks, but this depends on the level. Depression doesn’t only affect a certain category of people. Anyone can experience depression at any stage in their life. Right from young children, to teenagers, to adults and older individuals, everyone is susceptible to depression. The treatment for each situation and individual would be different. Various antidepressants are available in the market. Upon the health adviser’s prescription, these drugs must be taken regularly and as advised.
 
Also, you need not worry about having to take medications for your entire life. As mentioned earlier, depression is curable, so as soon as you show signs of improvement, your health advisor will alter the amount of medication or have you stop taking it completely.
 
Every cloud has a silver lining! Depression may lead you to believe that there is no hope left, but it’s important to remember that depression can be cured. All you need to do is accept the facts and then seek the right kind of help.
 

 

Depressed? Your Phone Says It All!

A smartphone is becoming the essential companion of almost everyone these days. This indicates that it’s quite probable your devices will be the one to diagnose whether you are depressed or not.
 
A recent study at Northwestern Medicine showed that those who had the signs of being depressed used their phones almost 300% more compared to those who weren’t depressed. Quantitatively, depressed people use their phones for 68 minutes daily as compared to about 17 minutes for healthy people.
 
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According to the author of this study, Stephen Schueller, using phones for activities like social media or surfing the Internet serves as a distraction from their present feelings. Stephen is a PhD and an assistant professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
 
The study lasted 2 weeks and had 28 participants. The study fitted each participant with a device to gauge the time they used their phones along with a GPS to see how much they moved around. Every participant also undertook a standard questionnaire to determine whether they were depressed. As the study ended, another result showed that the participant’s phone data was an 87% reliable indicator of whether he/she suffers from depression as compared to a standard test.
 
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But even more important than the apps and phone data of the participant was the information received from the GPS tracker. It was revealed that a person’s movements are a stronger indicator of their mental health.
 

Schueller says that the daily activities of people are a strong indication of their mental state. Factors such as how much they leave the house or what places they visit are important for this prediction.
 
Daily lifestyles of depressed people don’t show a lot of variation, Schueller says. Depressed people exhibit a routine of going back and forth between work and home only. Mentally fit people on the other hand, take part in a lot of different things with more frequency. They engage more with others socially and they place an emphasis on active work.
 
The researchers are hoping that this research will help others by implementing technology that can inform users and their doctors if a person begins to display unhealthy phone habits. It can also act as a test for doctors to see if their treatment for depression is being effective. And for the privacy minded folks out there, this technology respects the privacy of their users and that the GPS tracker never shows the exact location.
 
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Until that time comes, you can take your own steps by putting your phone away when you feel down. Go meet a friend instead.
 
For Schueller, kicking an addiction to phones can be achieved by removing your phone from your proximity most of the time. Walking even a few steps to pick up your phone can make it more probable that you won’t even use it.
 

 

8 Ways To Help You Ditch The Depression Drugs

Society today is fighting depression like never before. More people are experiencing depression everyday than in the past. This mental illness is caused by people having hormonal imbalances or from having experienced traumatic situations in the past. Some of the symptoms of depression include loss of feeling of self-worth, extreme sadness, hopelessness, and more. Only other depressed people can understand the struggle that depression puts upon these people every single day.
 
Medication such as antidepressants can be used to handle depression, but often these medications don’t cure the root cause of depression. They treat only the symptoms. This can be dangerous as it sets the possibility of a person falling back into depression again. Fortunately, there are ways to battle depression without resorting to drugs and risking dependency on those drugs.
 
1. Share Your Feelings With Those Close To You
 
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It takes strength to admit your weakness. Don’t shy away from sharing your troubles and feelings with someone you love or trust. Sharing always lightens the load on yourself, allowing you to eventually find the joy in life again. Spelling out your troubles lets you recognize what is bothering you, and then your listeners can really help you solve your problems. Your family and friends don’t need to be professional therapists, but they do have to listen to you carefully and treat you with love. That is the important thing.
 
2. Write A “Thought Journal”
 
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As you begin to experience negative emotions, start off your own depression therapy by writing down your feelings and state of mind in your thought journal as soon as possible. While you write, try to express yourself in your journal clearly and concisely. Write about what caused those sad feelings. Just writing down your problems can be helpful in itself. And if you’re up for it, read through your journal later on with a clear mind and judge yourself whether the unhappiness you felt before was worth it or not. You might find that what you were worried about before is simply something trivial now. But if you begin to identify patterns in your depression and causes of your unhappiness, then take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again in the future.
 
3. Stay Positive
 
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Studies have shown that if people pay increased attention towards positive things, then their serotonin level increases. An incorrect hormonal balance in your body can lead to bouts of depression. Meditation is a valid technique for trying to stay positive even if you are suffering from depression. It has been documented that meditation increases serotonin and dopamine levels which in turn leads to happier moods. Try to meditate when you feel you are in danger of falling into depression.
 
4. Breathe Fresh Air
 
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Regular sunshine and fresh air has an impressive effect in elevating moods. Exposure to bright light can increase your brain’s serotonin levels, removing depression while increasing your happiness and productivity. Just the feeling of sunshine and the fresh morning air cleaning your lungs is a powerful tool for people to start to becoming more active and happier. You should get a minimum of 15 minutes a day of sunshine to see some benefits. If you happen to reside somewhere with a low amount of sunshine, utilize halogen bulbs or a wakeup light as an adequate replacement.
 
5. Learn To Relax
 
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People with depression need to utilize consistent relaxation exercises and practices to combat depression. Such techniques can increase your body’s dopamine levels, producing feelings of happiness and contentment. Practicing relaxation techniques may act as a preventative shield to ward off depression in the future. Consider learning yoga or tai chi to supplement your relaxation practices. You can try to repeat a meditative phrase to motivate yourself during exercise.
 
6. Get Your Exercise
 
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Studies have proven repeatedly that exercise is a great method to stop depression. In fact, governmental agencies are planning to prescribe exercise as a substitute for antidepressants for depression by stating that the risk–benefit ratio is poor for antidepressant use in patients with mild depression. A half hour of exercise a day is a good start. Don’t think that you have to completely exhaust yourself either. Getting your blood pumping by doing continuous and rhythmic exercise instead of intermittent exercise is a great plan. This opens up doors to a lot of activities like cycling and swimming.
 
7. Change What You Eat
 
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They say, you are what you eat. Studies reveal that eating foods possessing omega-3 fatty acids and a balanced amount of animal protein can be beneficial in elevating your mood. A few proteins found in milk and whey can have immediate effects on removing your depression too. If you feel blue, then tryptophan can help in making you happier and more agreeable, even if you are not necessarily depressed.
 
8. Get a Pet
 
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Human connection is one of life’s greatest joys, but pets are not far behind either. The presence of a pet and it’s constant affection can stop you from feeling lonely or troubled, and when you start to take care of your pet by taking it out on walks, you’ll naturally feel better about the present situation of your life by caring for something else and engaging in exercise.
 
If you can’t control your depression, seek help from a professional. If someone close to you is suffering, do your part to make them feel better. Together, we can fight and beat depression.
 

 

Have Depression In Your Life? It Could Be Your Diet

Have you been feeling down lately? Depressed and sad for no reason at all? Well, there could be a reason – in fact, a variety of reasons behind such blues, but the main one could be your diet. There’s a lot to explore about what’s going on inside your body to make you feel the way you do, but there are things you can do to get rid of this depression.
 
Depression is a disease that takes life away from us slowly and gradually. It’s a painful experience for those undergoing stress and depression, but rest assured, it can be alleviated (some more easily than others, of course).
 
Even if you think you are on a healthy diet, there are various nutrients that could be missing from the food that you eat which then make you feel depressed. The reason behind low nutritional value in food is depleted soil.
 
It has been found through a survey that women suffer from anxiety and stress more than men. Another study has found that an average American now weighs 26 pounds more than he did about 60 years ago.
 
The Centers for Disease Control Second Nutrition Report identified 11 main nutrients that are not consumed enough – making one feel lazy, de-motivated, tired, prone to stress, and hence, depressed.
 
Before you diagnose yourself with depression, take a look at these vital nutrients and see if you need to intake more.
 
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Vitamin D
 
This is the most widespread deficiency around that is associated with autism, dementia, cancer, and depression. Vitamin D is naturally made by sunlight being absorbed through your skin, but in some areas where there isn’t enough sunlight, especially during winter months, people become more prone to developing depression. The National Institutes for Health shows that a minimum of 600 IUs of vitamin D are required each day. However, a more accurate amount is around 5,000 IUs for supreme mental health.
 
Iron
 
There is an estimate that about 20% of women suffer iron deficiency. If you feel you are depressed, fatigued, irritated easily and are unable to concentrate, then be assured that your iron levels are low. You must make sure to take in 8 to 18 mg of iron on a daily basis. For women who are in their child-bearing age, a maximum amount of iron is advised.
 
Vitamin C
 
Animals are able to synthesize this vitamin, but we humans are not, and even though we think we get enough of it, the truth is we don’t. It’s better to consume citrus fruits, green peppers, cantaloupe, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, and kiwi fruit, in order to obtain vitamin C.
 
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
 
The general misconception is that omega-3s are only required if you are taking care of your heart. Truth is that the body requires ample amounts of these fatty acids in order to function normally. Two or three portions of fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, and halibut or some walnuts are advised.
 
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B-Complex Vitamins
 
A survey showed that a quarter of women diagnosed with depression lacked one or more types of vitamin B. These important vitamins can be found in eggs, milk, seafood, chicken, and fish. It is advised to take all types of vitamin Bs rather than focusing on one type as they work best in a combination. A high quality B complex supplement can also be taken.
 
Amino Acids
 
These are the essential building blocks for protein and they ensure a proper functioning of the brain. A lack of amino acids can lead to feeling depressed, lethargic, and finding it hard to concentrate. Amino acids can be consumed by increasing the intake of seeds, nuts, beans, and red meat in your diet.
 
Zinc
 
This mineral is responsible for proper digestion as well as for repairing proteins reproducing DNA. It also helps develop a better immune function and control against inflammation.
 
Selenium
 
It is required to ensure optimum thyroid function in adults. It is a vital antioxidant that helps in keeping polyunsaturated acids from getting oxidized within the membranes of cells. 55mg of selenium are advised for adults to maintain proper functioning organs.
 
Magnesium
 

This is another nutrient with a high amount of deficiency in people. It is hard for the body to absorb, and a diet full of sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol makes it harder to maintain the body’s natural reserve. Therefore, it is ideal for fighting damage caused by chronic stress. The required daily intake for men and women is 400 mg and 320 mg respectively.
 
Iodine
 
With insufficient amounts of iodine, your body is likely to function abnormally and lead you into feeling depressed along with other symptoms. Iodine is vital for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. It is therefore responsible for maintaining temperature, energy levels, immune system function, brain function, and metabolism.
 
Folate  
 
Lack of folates in your diet can make your intake of antidepressants go to waste, so if you are feeding yourself antidepressants and it seems to not work, then you need to increase your intake of folates in your diet. A shortage of folates will also make you feel depressed. It is naturally found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, beans, legumes, and even in citrus fruits. 400mg is required on a daily basis for normal functioning.
 
It is noted however that some of these nutrients have limits. Some of the supplements may interfere the normal working of prescription drugs so before starting the consumption of any of these supplements, make sure to consult with your doctor about the amount and effects with your current pills.
 
So before diagnosing yourself with depression and visiting your doctor, make sure your diet is rich in the above-discussed nutrients and minerals. However, if that doesn’t work, then it must be the time to consult a doctor.