Managing Depression

Depression is one of the most common illnesses in the world. The Centers for Disease Control say that 5.4 percent of Americans 12 years of age and older experience depression, rates of depression has tripled for teenage girls in particular, and 80 percent of adults experience some form of depression in their lifetime. Depression is manageable. Learning about depression symptoms, getting the appropriate treatments, and applying the practical information to your daily routine will produce measurable, positive results.

According to the National Institutes of Health, it is a debilitating disease that “interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you.” It is a complex disorder that is caused by genetic as well as environmental factors.

SYMPTOMS

Depression has many forms. Dysthymic Depression can persist for two years or longer and it affects normal functioning. Minor Depression usually lasts two weeks or longer, but it does not have all of the depression symptoms of Major Depression. When sufferers do not seek treatment, this milder form can increase in intensity and become a major disorder.

Other forms of it can manifest due to a stressful time or event. The psychotic form occurs when a person has a severe depression plus some form of psychosis, e.g., delusions or hallucinations. The postpartum type occurs after child birth due to hormonal and physical changes. Estimates are 10 to 15 percent of new moms will experience this disorder. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by a lack of natural sunlight during the winter months. Predictably, this illness gets better in the spring. It can also be treated with artificial light. Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) is characterized by dramatic mood swings.

Symptoms of depression are physical and mental. Patients can experience either increased appetite or a loss of appetite, excessive sleeping or insomnia, lethargy and sexual dysfunction. Emotional issues manifest as a lack of pleasure derived from normal activities, withdrawal from family and friends, a persistent sadness, irritability and anger.

TREATMENT

The easiest treatment is exercise. Walking or jogging releases serotonin, the feel-good hormone.

Herbal antidepressants aid serotonin circulation. The most popular herbs are Siberian ginseng, licorice, and Saint-John’s-wort. Basil, thyme, and peppermint are beneficial as well.

Other non-prescription depression treatments are found in certain foods. Trytophan is an essential amino acid that regulates serotonin. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, whole wheat bread, eggs, and bananas. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, legumes, and nuts help treat depression by making the brain’s cell membranes more receptive to serotonin. Folic acid from leafy green vegetables stave off a low acid level which can worsen the effects of depression.

Pharmacalogical depression treatments include Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Common prescriptions include Prozac, Abilify, Zoloft, and Cymbalta.

COUNSELING

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is the evidence-based psychological treatment of choice for depression. Depending on the rigidity of the depression, an average of 12 counseling sessions usually helps sufferers to learn how to analyze their unhealthy thinking, challenge it, and replace it with thoughts that are more positive and adaptive. Together with that, changes in habits and solution -focused techniques are taught. When equipped with these tools, you will be equipped to manage the disease and take control of your life.