Many people use the term “depressed” to describe their occasional bouts of sadness or disappointment. However, clinical depression, which causes significant impairment in daily functioning and is caused by a brain disorder, is a markedly different condition. According to the World Health Organisation, depression affects approximately 280 million people throughout the world, and affects about 50% more women than men. The number of people suffering from this disease tops cardiovascular disease (244 million), cancer (18 million) and AIDS (44 million), worldwide. Perhaps most alarmingly is the relatively high percentage of depressed individuals that end their own lives. Unfortunately, misconceptions abound concerning the nature of depression; Mary Rappaport, a spokesperson for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, notes that many people still consider depression to be a character flaw or the result of poor parenting. However, depression- which encompasses major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar depression- can have a variety of symptoms such as depressed mood, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, fatigue, and trouble concentrating. If you are wondering whether you or somebody you know is dealing with depression, then consider some of these symptoms:

  1. Depressed mood;
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities;
  3. Changes in appetite or weight;
  4. Disturbed sleeping patterns;
  5. Slowed or restless movements;
  6. Fatigue, loss of energy;
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt;
  8. Trouble in thinking, concentrating or making decisions;
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

Although willpower alone cannot overcome depression, current medical treatment options include:

  • Medication (tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibiors) – work by altering chemicals in the brain such as serotonin (also known as the happy hormone) and helping with the symptoms of depression.
  • Psychotherapy – counselling, hypnotherapy or CBT can all help with depression.

If you are dealing with clinical depression then there is most likely a chemical component to it and therefore reaching out to your medical practitioner to find out your options is a great idea and also contacting a naturopath to find out what you can do nutritionally and holistically to help might be of benefit. Most of all, remember, you are not alone so finding a support group can be a massive help.

If you are just dealing with the everyday stressors of life and are feeling a little melancholy, then take some time out for yourself and remember tomorrow is a brand new day.

Please note that the information given here is for educational purposes only and not in place of medical advice. Please see your medical practitioner should something be of concern to you.

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