Depression is one of the fastest-growing mental problems. Many studies have revealed that more people around the world are suffering from depression – unfortunately, most of them in silence. The problem is especially prevalent in the U.S.
Depression should not be ignored. This guide will sensitize you on everything there is to know about depression: what it is, what causes it, its symptoms, treatment and recovery, and much more!
Demystifying Depression – What Is It?
Depression is a common mental illness that negatively affects how one thinks, feels, and behaves. In its clinical form, depression causes a loss of interest in all activities and significantly impairs one’s everyday life.
There are six variations of depression. The different types share some core similarities, but some aspects vary. Following is a brief overview of each type of depression:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
MDD is also dubbed the ‘Classic Type’ because it is the most common form of depression. It exhibits most of the condition’s general signs and symptoms.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia)
Dysthymia lasts for about two years. It only shows two symptoms: poor mood and low energy. The symptoms strike periodically for prolonged periods (ranging from several weeks to several months) over the two years.
- Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder exhibits symptoms of depression and mania concurrently, mostly characterized by high and low moods. Both sets of symptoms can be exhibited within minutes of hours of each other.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
As the title suggests, this type of depression is seasonal. It strikes in the winter season and is associated with the shorter days. The change in daylight hours alters the body’s natural rhythm and impedes the functioning of hormones such as melatonin and serotonin.
- Postpartum Depression (PDD)
Postpartum depression affects women during or shortly after pregnancy. Pregnancy disrupts the body’s release of hormones. This, in most cases, results in temporary mood swings. However, it can also turn into mild or severe cases of depression.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
PMDD is a more severe version of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It starts after ovulation and ends when menstruation begins again.
This is a complete guide that will inform you about the sure short methods, you can apply to recover from depression. This mental health problem should not be taken lightly as its prevalence is increasing day by day all over the world and especially in America.
So, let’s jump into the core of the action.
Chapter # 1. Alarming Sign And Symptoms
Chapter # 2. Professional Consultation
Chapter # 3. Antidepressant Medications
Chapter # 4. Emotional Support Animal (ESA)
Chapter # 5. Psychotherapy
Chapter # 6. Risk Reduction
Chapter # 7. Alternative Treatment Methods
Chapter 1: Causes, Signs & Symptoms of Depression
Depression has a variety of causes ranging from insufficient sleep to genetics. It also has many signs and symptoms, most of which tend to go unnoticed.
Depression has a variety of causes ranging from insufficient sleep to genetics. It also has many signs and symptoms, most of which tend to go unnoticed.
Common causes of depression include:
- Sleep Deprivation
The body needs sleep to rest and perform optimally. In extreme cases, insufficient sleep can lead to depression.
- Drugs and Medication
Some drugs have temporary depression as a side-effect. Common examples include corticosteroids and isotretinoin.
- Certain Illnesses
Certain illnesses also lead to depression as a side-effect. It is a common occurrence with chronic conditions such as cancer.
- Trauma or Abuse
Traumatic experiences, such as witnessing death on the battlefield or falling victim to rape, often lead to depression.
- Hormonal Disruption
Hormones affect your emotions. Abnormal hormone levels often result in mild, temporary depression.
One of the interesting aspects of depression is that it can be inherited – inherited any of the other causes easily triggers depression.
Depression is a common symptom among many drug users. It is especially common among alcoholics.
- Sad Experiences
Depression makes you sad. Sad experiences, especially ones that leave lasting memories, often lead to depression.
Signs & Symptoms
The main reason why depression goes mostly ignored is that its signs and symptoms are common. They may be quickly passed off as just another ‘phase’ or ‘episode’ until it is too late.
Common signs and symptoms to look out for include:
- Lack of Drive to Do Your Chores
The lack of will to do your chores, including not getting out of bed in the morning, is one of the early symptoms.
- Feeling of Hopelessness
It is that constant feeling of lack of hope, even when there seems to be a simple solution to your problems.
- Loss of Appetite or Overeating
Depression can either suppress your appetite or increase it – you have heard the common expression among people who eat more when they are sad.
- Insufficient Sleep or Oversleeping
As mentioned, depression can make you feel like not getting out of bed. It can also keep you up all night, stressing and tossing.
- Feeling Fatigued
Depression will also make you feel tired all the time – this is also why it gets in the way of everyday chores.
Depression will make you frown and snap at everything that bothers you. It may, however, make you feel intimated in some cases.
Depression is also associated with anxiety, and both conditions share restlessness as a symptom.
- Feeling of Guilt
You will become your harshest critic. You will blame yourself for everything that goes wrong, even when it doesn’t involve you.
You will often be at a loss on what to do next when faced with two or more choices. You will also lack initiative.
- Poor Memory & Concentration
Depression messes with your brain. It often makes it hard to concentrate for longer than a few seconds. It also makes your memories foggy.
- More Physical Pain
Depression will magnify physical pain, especially if you are dealing with chronic conditions such as aching limbs. It can also lead to imaginary pain (that feels very real).
- Suicidal Thoughts
Depression is one of the common causes of suicide – studies show a parallel rise in cases of suicide in countries where depression is most prevalent.
Note: These are just the common signs and symptoms of depression. The fact that they are common means that suffering from one or two of them doesn’t prove that you are suffering from depression. Still, it is essential to take precautions if you note two or more of these signs and symptoms.
Chapter 2: Professional Consultation, Diagnosis & Treatment
There is an ongoing campaign to sensitize people on the prevalence and gravity of depression. Many organizations, volunteers, and government-run campaigns have set up channels where people suffering from depression can go and get help. In essence, there are many hotlines where people can call anonymously to get help.
It is essential to consult a professional to determine whether or not you are suffering from depression. As mentioned, the symptoms are common and may be mistaken for other conditions, such as:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
This is why you should consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis. If you are suffering from the condition, the physician will initiate a treatment plan.
Diagnosing depression is easier said than done since the symptoms are difficult to analyze. There is no standard test, but there is a standard procedure. Your doctor will do the following before making a final diagnosis:
- Listen to your signs and symptoms
- Ask you standard questions administered to depression patients
- Examine your overall wellbeing to rule out other conditions
- Order routine blood samples to rule out any underlying pathological issues
- Make a final decision on the definite diagnosis
Diagnosis is not always definite owing to the symptoms’ generic nature. As such, patients are advised to be cooperative during diagnosis. Following are some tips to help your doctor make the correct diagnosis:
- Be honest, clear, and thorough about your signs and symptoms
- Open up about any underlying mental health issues that may be confused for depression
- Open up about any known triggers that may cause depression
- Be frank with the doctor and answer all questions
Tip: Depression can make you feel like you don’t want to talk to anyone, which often is a problem during diagnosis. However, it is advisable to push yourself as far as you can – diagnosis checkups take minutes, and you have nothing to lose.
Chapter # 3: Treatment – The Age-Old Formula
Depression is a killer if left untreated. It puts the mind and body under high levels of stress, all of which eventually lead to chronic illnesses and death in severe cases. Fortunately, it is curable.
Depression should never go untreated. Without treatment, this condition can lead to a variety of other conditions, including:
Insomnia is a chronic lack of sleep. Depression disrupts sleep patterns, thus causing insomnia.
The following symptoms characterize it:
- Trouble going to sleep at night
- Fatigue in the morning
- Waking up suddenly in the middle of the night
- Trouble going to sleep after waking up
- Unsatisfactory sleep when you do manage to fall asleep
Insomnia will disrupt your everyday life. Long-term insomnia may also contribute to other chronic conditions.
- Abusing Alcohol and Drugs
Many of the people suffering from depression often turn to alcohol and drug abuse to escape the dullness.
Associated symptoms include:
- Memory loss
- Reluctance talking about problems
- Feeling melancholy
- Difficulty maintaining relationships
Drug abuse also comes with many other negative side-effects. The symptoms of depression also get worse as you become more and more dependent on drugs.
- Financial Challenges
Depression, as mentioned, disrupts your everyday life. It gets between you and your professional life. For instance, you may experience difficulty associating with your colleagues or clients. It may get you fired, thus putting a dent on your finances.
- Disruption of Social Life
Depression will make you feel like running away and hiding from the world. It will limit contact with friends, colleagues, and even close family members.
- Higher Risk of Suicide
As mentioned, depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. The feeling of hopelessness can push you over the edge and make death seem like the only way out. This is why depression should be treated with the urgency shown with other clinical ailments.
There are many ways to treat depression, fortunately. Mild cases often go away without much intervention if the underlying situation gets better. However, more serious cases require intervention and the use of anti-depression medicine. This section is a brief guide to everything there is to know about anti-depression medication.
A Brief History of Anti-Depressants
Anti-depressants have been around since the 1950s. They came by as a positive mistake when scientists in Switzerland were experimenting on a drug to treat schizophrenia. The experiment revealed that the drug had a positive effect on hormones associated with depression – hormonal imbalance is one of the causes of depression, as mentioned earlier. Scientists modified the drug to enhance their anti-depressant capabilities. Since then, there have emerged many variants of anti-depression medicine.
Some of the most common and effective anti-depressants include:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs)
- Tetracyclic Anti-depressants
- Tricyclic Anti-depressants (TCAs)
- Serotonin Antagonist and Reuptake Inhibitors (SARIs)
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Nutraceuticals or Medical Food
Following is a more in-depth overview of the various types of anti-depressants, their properties, and the depression conditions they are best suited to treat.
Reuptake Inhibitors: SSRIs, SNRIs, and NDRIs
Reuptake inhibitors work by tweaking specific hormonal levels. They inhibit the reuptake of three neurotransmitters associated with happiness: adrenaline, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The hormones stay in the brain longer and elevate the patient’s mood, albeit temporarily.
There are many variations of reuptake inhibitors. They include:
- SSRIs: paroxetine, olanzapine, citalopram, escitalopram, sertraline, and fluvoxamine
- SNRIs: venlafaxine, duloxetine, levomilnacipran, and desvenlafaxine
- NDRIs: bupropion
These are the most prescribed anti-depressants. They are the latest and most advanced versions of reuptake inhibitors. They are more effective than other options.
Side-effects of reuptake inhibitors include:
- Dry mouth
- Sexual problems
- Weight gain/loss
Tetracyclic and Tricyclic Anti-depressants
These anti-depressants also work by tweaking neurotransmitters in the brain. They block the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters in the brain cells with the eventual effect of elevating the patient’s mood.
Variations of tricyclic and tetracyclic anti-depressants include:
- Tricyclic Anti-depressants: imipramine, amitriptyline, nortriptyline, and desipramine
- Tetracyclic Anti-depressants: mirtazapine and maprotiline
These anti-depressants have several side-effects, some of which tend to become adverse.
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain/loss
- Dry mouth
- Increased heart rate
- Blood pressure abnormalities
These drugs are not commonly prescribed owing to their adverse side-effects; their use is exclusive only for dire cases of clinical depression.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
These drugs inhibit one enzyme: the monoamine oxidase enzyme. The enzyme breaks down monoamine neurotransmitters, a process which has the side-effect of elevating one’s mood. Variations of MAOIs include selegiline, phenelzine, isocarboxazid, and tranylcypromine.
Side-effects of MAOIs include:
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain
- Erectile dysfunction
- Involuntary, abnormal body movements
- Abnormal blood pressure
Nutraceuticals or Medicine Food
Folate is essential in the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Low levels of folate are linked to poor mood and depression. Medicine food contains nutrients essential in the production of folate. The most reliable drug in this class is I-methyl folate, which contains essential B vitamins (B9). These nutrients increase the production of folate, which in turn increases the production of neurotransmitters associated with happiness.
How Doctors Prescribe Anti-Depressants
The varying types of anti-depressants are designed for different types of depression. So, how does the doctor know which drug is right for your case? Answer: a comprehensive evaluation.
The following factors come into play when a doctor is prescribing an anti-depressant:
The varying symptoms of depression are associated with different types of depression. A certain combination of symptoms may indicate one type of depression, while another combination indicates another type of depression. This is the first consideration that doctors review when making a prescription.
One of the common causes of depression is genetics, as highlighted earlier. The inherited type of depression may share certain similarities with your relatives’ case. If your depression is inherited, the doctor may check your family’s history to see which drugs worked.
Intensity of Side-Effects
Every anti-depressant has side-effects. TCAs, for example, are not popular prescriptions because of their severe side-effects. In some cases, the side-effects may be worse than the condition, depending on your body’s tolerance level. Your doctor will also take this into consideration before making the prescription.
Interaction with Other Medications
Every drug affects your body’s physiology. Some drugs complement each other, but others mix with negative side-effects. Your doctor will check your medical history and ask about drugs that you may have used recently before making the prescription.
Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
Pregnancy, as mentioned, is one of the causes of depression. Some anti-depressants reach the fetus and cause severe congenital disabilities. Some of the properties of anti-depressants can also be transmitted via breast milk.
Related Health Problems
Underlying illnesses, such as cancer, may cause depression. If this is the case, your doctor will put more energy into treating the root cause of the condition. Any anti-depressants that may interfere with the main treatment will be ruled out.
Some anti-depressants are expensive, and it takes some time and several doses to cure the condition. If you cannot afford one type of anti-depressant, the doctor will prescribe another one that can safely get the job done.
How to Make Anti-Depressants Work
Anti-depressants are more efficient in some people than they are in others because bodies respond differently to medication. If your body type fits into the latter category, you must make certain changes to improve your response to medication. Following are some tested and proven tips on how to make anti-depressants work for you:
Take the Right Dosage
Follow your doctor’s dosage to the letter. Take the prescribed amount of the drug at the right time. The drug may either work or make things worse, depending on your body’s tolerance to its properties. Don’t reduce your dosage or stop taking the drug for any reason without consulting with your doctor first.
Be Patient and Wait
It takes at least six weeks for anti-depressants to start having a positive effect on your condition. Be patient and stick to the prescribed dosage for the next six weeks or more. Check with your doctor within the next six or more weeks to check whether the drugs are working.
Ask the Doctor to Adjust Dosage
Monitor yourself closely within six weeks of using the prescribed anti-depressant. Consult your doctor if your condition doesn’t improve. The doctor will either adjust the dosage or recommend a new class of anti-depressants.
Every anti-depressant has side-effects. The side-effects can be mild or severe, depending on the drug and your body’s tolerance capacity. The side-effects can become more severe than the condition if not managed properly. As such, monitor your progress and regularly check in with your doctor.
Make the Necessary Changes
Your doctor will recommend a different anti-depressant if the prescribed one does not work within the recommended six-week period.
Chapter 4: Treating Depression Using Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)
People form strong, positive relationships with their pets. These positive relationships can be exploited to manage and treat depression.
An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet whose main work is to make you feel happy. An ESA provides mental relief and emotional support. He/she will keep you company everywhere you go – ESAs can even be allowed on planes when necessary to soothe and calm people afraid of flying.
ESAs are given more preference over ordinary pets. They are protected under law. For example, an ESA can be allowed on a plane or in other settings where ordinary pets are banned.
Getting an Emotional Support Animal
An emotional support animal is not special or different from any other pet – it is your relationship with the animal that should be special. Getting an ESA is just like adopting a pet. You take them in, feed and shelter them, and show them some love – soon enough, your new furry friend will reciprocate the love your show on him/her, and your world will feel less dull and lonely with a new loyal companion.
Emotional support animals come in all shapes and sizes. Most people get dogs – dogs are intelligent and can relate to and interact with their owners on a deeper level. Other options include cuts, birds, miniature horses, fish, and more. Any animal that makes you feel better about yourself and can be kept as a pet qualifies as an emotional support animal.
It is also recommended to get an ESA letter if you need to take your new pet everywhere you go. The authorities issue an ESA letter as proof that you are suffering from depression and need the pet for your wellbeing. ESA letters are issued by physicians, psychiatrists, and other qualified mental health professionals. You can get a valid ESA letter from your doctor. You can also get one online from one of the hundreds of online clinics that issue them – be careful not to fall prey to cons!
Hormones, as mentioned, may cause or alleviate depression, depending on their concentration in the body. Your relationship with others may trigger the release of certain hormones and neurotransmitters. A positive relationship will trigger the release of hormones that make you feel happy. This is what happens when you form a bond to your emotional support animal.
ESAs trigger the release of hormones associated with feeling happy. These hormones are:
1. Oxytocin: The Love Hormone
Your ESA may feel like the only friend you have left. The love that ensues will lead to the release of oxytocin, popularly known as the love hormone. Oxytocin is synthesized in the hypothalamus and released in the brain by the pituitary gland. It has a range of benefits that counter symptoms of depression, including:
- Stress Reduction
Oxytocin is a natural stress reliever. It relieves stress by counteracting cortisol, which is dubbed a stress hormone. Stress is one of the main symptoms of depression.
- Improved Social Skills
People suffering from depression have difficulty socializing with other people, including close friends and relatives. By relieving stress, oxytocin makes it easier to go out and socialize. Socializing is good because it provides an avenue to talk about your problems, which is one of the first steps towards treating depression.
- Better Sleep
Lack of sleep is another common symptom of depression. It intensifies other symptoms over time. Oxytocin supports standard sleep patterns, thus making it easier to fall asleep for longer periods.
- Improved Libido
One of the main benefits of the love hormone is that it makes it easier to make love. It will improve your libido and promote intimacy with your lover. Sex also has various benefits that help counter the symptoms of depression.
2. Serotonin: The Happy Chemical
Serotonin is a chemical messenger in the brain. It helps keep you calm and comfortable when released in normal amounts. It also has the effect of elevating your mood when released at higher levels. This is why most anti-depressants are designed to increase the production of serotonin to higher levels.
3. Dopamine: The Feel-Good Neurotransmitter
Dopamine will make you feel better about yourself. It is released when partaking in enjoyable experiences, and it helps magnify the feeling of pleasure. It also makes you acknowledge your achievements, no matter how little, and functions as a mental reward. It is one of the primary hormonal targets for most anti-depressants.
Emotional support animals trigger the release of these hormones in standard or higher-than-average levels. Their combined effects have the overall effect of alleviating most of the symptoms of depression.
Using Emotional Support Animals to Manage Depression – A Step-by-Step Guide
It takes a pro-active relationship with your emotional support animal to manage and eventually cure depression. Here is a guide on what you have to do on your part:
Step 1: Assess Your Symptoms
Start with taking a close, hard look at your symptoms. Do they necessitate the use of an emotional support animal?
Step 2: Consult Your Doctor
Next, consult with your doctor about your condition’s diagnosis and treatment options. Get the doctor to verify whether or not you need an ESA. If an ESA is recommended, ask the doctor about how the animals work as well as their impacts on your condition and everyday routine.
Step 3: Get an ESA Letter
Get an ESA letter to acknowledge your need for an emotional support animal to use as proof when going about your everyday public life. You can get the ESA letter from your doctor or any other qualified medical professional. You can also get one online, but be sure to check that it is from a trusted and authorized channel to avoid cons.
Step 4: Get an Emotional Support Animal
Now you can go ahead and get a new furry friend. You get to choose your preferred ESA: cats, dogs, and all other animals that qualify as pets also qualify as emotional support animals. It is advisable to get one that is already trained as a pet and take over from there.
Step 5: Engage and Interact
It takes two to tangle when using an emotional support animal. As such, interact with your new pet whenever you need to. Talk to him/her and share your deepest secrets – talking helps relieve stress and ease other symptoms, and, besides, your pet will not tell anyone! Play with your pet occasionally and take him/her out for walks as you get some fresh air and sunshine, too. Cuddle your pet and make use of every moment you have together.
Step 6: Enjoy
Your emotional support animal will reciprocate all the love you show him/her, and add some more! You will enjoy his/her loyal companionship as he/she will follow everywhere you go. You will also enjoy the warmth and comfort that comes cuddling. Most importantly, you will enjoy a happier life free of the various symptoms of depression as the ‘happy’ hormones kick in. Immerse yourself in every enjoyable moment with your emotional support animal and kick your worries and stress away!
Chapter 5: Talk Your Depression Away With Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression. It involves talking to a qualified and certified psychologist. The talks revolve around a variety of topics, including your professional and personal life. By talking, psychotherapy helps uncover any underlying emotional or mental issues that may be causing depression.
The psychologist identifies any underlying problems while you ease the pressure on your mind by opening up and talking. The talks become more profound and open with time, and most of your symptoms become less severe or disappear as a result.
Types of Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy sessions vary in nature. They are classified into several types, which are primarily determined by the patient’s type of depression.
The different types of psychotherapy are:
Certain behaviors, such as drug abuse and isolation, cause depression. Behavioral therapy seeks to turn patients away from such negative behavior. It encourages engaging in positive activities associated with happiness.
Cognitive therapy seeks to change your perspective. People suffering from depression tend to have a negative perspective of everything; it is a constant feeling of hopelessness. Cognitive therapy paints your situation in a brighter light and gets you to see your strengths. Sessions last for between 6 and 18 weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.
Negative thoughts and behaviors are complementary – negative thoughts lead to negative behavior. Many psychologists pair both types of psychotherapy to address the problem’s root as addressing one issue whilst ignoring the other is futile. This combination is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy as its effects are long-lasting.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical behavior therapy is a variation of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Its purpose is to educate people suffering from depression about the condition. You will get to learn about the different causes of depression. Most importantly, you will get simple tips on how to control your emotions, manage your stress, and eventually come out of depression.
Your unconscious thoughts, memories, and emotions can also cause depression. Psychoanalytic therapy seeks to uncover these hidden elements and address them. It is a long-term treatment plan mostly used for chronic depression.
The focus here is on interpersonal relationships, as the title suggests. It puts great emphasis on social and interpersonal interaction. The goal is to get the patient to socialize and open up, which is the first step of healing from depression. It is a short-term treatment plan mostly used for temporary depression.
Formats of Psychotherapy Sessions
Every psychotherapy session is unique and tailored to suit your specific needs. However, all sessions come in one of four standard formats:
Individual therapy involves only the patient and therapist. It guarantees complete privacy so that you can open up.
This therapy is designed for couples. The patients’ spouses accompany them to lend support and learn how they can be a part of the solution.
This format involves the whole family. The patient’s parents, siblings, and other close family members are allowed to sit in and lend their support.
There are a handful of types of depression and millions of cases. People suffering similar symptoms can relate to each other and get the support they need to recover. Group therapy works based on this concept. The therapist brings together a group of people suffering from depression and tries to get them to open up.
How Does Therapy Treat Depression?
Therapy does not have a standard MO. It, however, has several definite effects that have the eventual impact of overcoming depression. Therapy seeks to explore your mind and heart, and by doing that, he/she the root of the problem.
Following are some of how therapy works to treat depression:
- By eliminating negative thoughts and behaviors, and then replacing them with positive ones
- By tackling each issue individually
- By making you feel (and be) in control again
- By enabling you to enjoy life and join the human race once more
- By teaching you how to cope with depression and what to do to avoid falling victim again
These are just some of the common techniques of therapy. There is a lot more than therapy has to offer, and there is something new to be gained with each session.
Making the Most of Psychotherapy – Tips
People suffering from depression are often their worst enemies. Many see therapy as some sort of punishment and cannot wait for the session to conclude. However, therapy is proven to work, so it is important to accept the help and make the most of it. Here are some tips to try:
- Keep an open mind – the therapist may ask a lot of questions and make comments or suggestions that may not sit right with you
- Be punctual – attend all the scheduled sessions and always be on time
- Be prudent – but the therapist’s advice into practical use to start seeing changes
- Be open – be honest with your therapists and let your relatives and friends help
- Take notes – write down important comments from the therapist to ponder over later
- Be patient – dedicate the therapy time to therapy until the last minute and don’t quit halfway
Chapter 6: Tips to Prevent Depression
Anyone can suffer from depression. Many people experience episodes of temporary depression and don’t know it. This is because there are many potential causes of depression. The various causes of depression are documented here, and avoiding them, in addition to taking other measures, will help you reduce the risk of depression. We will cover all about this here.
Identify Your Risk Factors
The risk factors for depression are unique for each person. They depend on the various factors that make up your life: work, family, friends, relationships, and more. The most important risk factors to consider include:
- Family History
Some cases of depression are hereditary. Look out for cases of depression in your immediate relatives, especially your parents.
- Psychological Factors
What do you think about yourself? What is your personality? Are you worried that you are not good enough for the world? What you think about yourself matters, so watch out.
- Lack of Social Support
Human beings are social creatures. You need other people to survive, and you need to interact with other people to stay sane. You are at a high risk of suffering from depression if you don’t socialize enough.
- Hormonal Changes
Hormones control your mood. If you are going through a phase that involves hormonal change, such as pregnancy, then you are likely to suffer from depression.
- Susceptibility to Depression
You are likely to suffer from depression again if you have suffered it in the past. Look out for the past case’s triggers.
- Chronic Illnesses
Chronic illnesses like cancer may cause depression. Avoid worrying too much if you are sick – stay positive and hold on to hope!
- Life-Changing Experiences
A sudden and significant life-changing experience, such as the death of a loved one, may also cause depression.
Tips to Prevent Depression
Depression is preventable. We have covered its various causes and risk factors. Preventing depression entails avoiding the said causes and risk factors. There is nothing special to it. Here are several tips to help you prevent depression and live a happier and more fulfilling life:
- Don’t Overwork Yourself
Working is good because it keeps the brain occupied. However, there is a limit to how much you can work without burning out. Work will become the central part of your life, and you will easily get depressed whenever anything goes wrong. Strike a balance between your work and personal lives, and take some time off to rest and rejuvenate your body.
- Make Wise Decisions
Think twice before making major life-changing decisions, such as changing careers or getting a divorce. A sudden change to your daily routine will disrupt your comfort and can trigger depression. Make decisions that will leave you better off than you are now.
- Be Prepared for Difficult Situations
Life has its ups and downs. You may get laid off work without notice, fall ill and get hospitalized, or just fall into some bad luck. It is important to be mentally prepared to prevent getting depressed.
- Tread Carefully on Social Media
Social media is addictive, and too much social media is not good for you. Several studies show that social media is fueling depression among the younger generations. Seeing pictures of your friends doing awesome things while you hide from the world will only fuel your depression. As such, avoid getting sucked into the virtual world – besides, most people cheat on social media.
- Build Healthy Relationships
People are social creatures. You need to talk to other people to keep your brain healthy. Isolation is a common trait among most people suffering from depression, so take the initiative to build healthy relationships. Surround yourself with positive-minded people, people who will support and uplift you instead of leading you astray.
- Manage Underlying Chronic Illnesses
Some chronic conditions, such as cancer, are often considered death sentences. The thought of dying often causes depression. People suffering from chronic conditions should take heart and hope they will get better – there are breakthroughs every other day! It is also important to manage the disease instead of resigning yourself to misery.
Positive Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Depression
A negative lifestyle has negative consequences, including a higher risk of susceptibility to depressions. Alcoholics, for example, get depressed when drinking ruins their lives. A positive lifestyle, on the other hand, has its rewards, one of which is a happy life free of depression.
So, what entails positive living? Following are some lifestyle changes you should consider adopting:
Sleep 6-8 Hours Daily
Insufficient sleep is one of the listed causes of depression. The recommended sleeping period is six to eight hours every day. As such, get enough sleep and avoid any distractions.
Try the following if you cannot sleep:
- Take a warm shower before jumping into bed
- Read a bedtime story instead of watching TV
- Put your phone and other devices away
- Try relaxation techniques
Make a sleeping timetable schedule and stick to it. Your body will learn and adapt, and it will become easier to fall asleep.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet means getting adequate amounts of all essential nutrients: protein, vitamin, fats, and carbohydrates. Your body needs enough of these nutrients to function well. Lack of these nutrients will disrupt the internal cycle and trigger depression.
Drink 7-8 Glasses of Water Daily
Dehydration is one of the many causes of depression – most people are easily irritated when they are thirsty. As such, make sure that you drink the recommended 7-8 glasses of clean water throughout the day.
The human body needs regular exercise to stay fit and healthy. Many studies support this and affirm that lack of regular exercise leads to an early death. Exercising relaxes the mind and helps you assume a positive outlook of life.
Drug abuse is one of the leading causes of depression. Most drug users get depressed when they realize that they are dependent on drugs, and their lives start deteriorating. Drug abuse also causes a myriad of other problems. As such, avoid drugs and distance yourself from friends who may get you hooked on drugs. Alcoholism is also just as bad as drug abuse, so avoid drinking too much or quit altogether.
Chapter 7: Alternative Treatment Options for Depression
Each case of depression is unique, as explained earlier. Some cases of depression don’t always respond to these standard treatment plans. Fortunately, there are many alternative treatment options. Here is an overview of some that may succeed where others have failed:
1. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was shunned in the past because of its adverse effects on patients’ memories. It has, however, been refined using modern technology and is now considered safe and effective.
ECT uses charged electrodes to shock the patient’s brain. The electrodes are placed on strategic parts of the patient’s head, and then safe levels of electric current passed through them. The patient is put under anesthesia to numb any pain and discomfort during the therapy.
How It Works
The science behind how ECT works is still inconclusive. Current studies suggest that shocking the brain using electricity triggers a temporary seizure. The effects include alleviating stress and other symptoms of depression.
The results of ECT are not immediate. It takes several sessions, depending on the patient’s unique condition, to see tangible, long-term benefits.
ECT necessitates the patient’s hospitalization. It also requires the use of anesthesia. To this end, it is recommended for patients suffering from chronic depression. It is used as a last resort where other treatment options have failed.
2. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
Vagus nerve stimulation also uses electric shock to treat depression. However, it targets the vagus nerve instead of the head.
How It Works
VNS is surgical. A doctor makes an incision under the collar bone and inserts a pulse generator to deliver the electric current. The electric current travels through the collar brain to the vagus nerve. The electric shock stimulates the nerve, which in turn stimulates the brain to restore normal mental activity. The stimulation affects the mood centers to make the patient feel calm and happy.
VNS is recommended for patients suffering from chronic clinical depression. It involves surgery, as mentioned, and is best used as a last resort.
3. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
This technique’s working mechanism is similar to that of electroconvulsive therapy. The only difference is that it uses strong magnetic currents instead of electricity. However, it should be noted that this technique is not as effective as ECT.
4. Herbal Medications
It is believed that some herbal medications are effective against depression. One good example is the s-adenosyl-methionine (SAM-e) herbal anti-depressant.
However, scientists believe that herbal medications mostly have a placebo effect, whereby the patient believes that he/she is cured and starts acting like it. It is also a fact that these medications have certain properties that may interfere with other anti-depressants or interrupt the body’s hormonal cycle.
5. Massage Therapy
Massage is known to suppress anxiety. It also helps to lower and balance the body’s hormone levels. It has the overall effect of making one feel calm and relaxed. It also suppresses some of the symptoms of depression, and the best thing about it is that it doesn’t have any known side-effects. However, massage therapy is mostly recommended for mild cases of depression.
Acupuncture may look painful, but it is surprisingly enjoyable. It is also effective against depression, a fact that has been acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO). It works by inserting many small needles gently into your skin at strategic points.
Depression should not be ignored. It is a severe mental illness that may give rise to other serious illnesses. It is also one of the leading causes of suicide. As such, make sure that you seek professional help if you know or suspect that you are suffering from depression. You will get the help you need, including anti-depressant medications, lifestyle advice, and alternative medications – everything has been covered in this guide.
Are you feeling depressed? Don’t suffer in silence – Mango Clinic is here to help. We offer a wide range of personalized remedies against depression. Visit our website to learn more about our services and set an appointment today.