Recession, inflation, climate change, natural calamities, and terrorism--the combination of these global problems may just be the reason for the increase in the number of people suffering from depression. Add to that advances in technology that have virtually made real-world social interactions obsolete, and we get the modern-world’s depression equation.
Depression is a disease that remains to baffle scientists and researchers. There are countless theories that hope to explain this phenomenon of the human mind and all of them give plausible explanations.
Medically, depression is considered a disease, reasoning that it is due to an imbalance in neurotransmitters (substances that transmit signals from the body to the brain) or because of a poor diet leading to an imbalance in vitamins and minerals.
Psychologically, depression is a result of traumatic events that may come in the form of a loss in the family or the presence of a serious disease or illness.
The good news is, many health professionals assert that depression as a disease is treatable.
Untreated depression can lead to many undesirable behaviors -- from oversleeping and over-eating to self-flagellation and even suicide. Even minor depression could affect one’s productivity at work and relationships, that is why once identified, depression must be treated with professional help.
However, there are ways that could help one cope with depression and a strong support group, family and peers, plays and integral part in this.
Keeping a positive outlook on life’s events would also help minimize the occurrence of depression. This can be accomplished by understanding one’s mind and realizing one’s purpose and goals. Yoga and meditation helps promote positive thinking.
A balanced vegetarian diet can also help battle depression. Meat eaters consume large amounts of protein, which is found to prevent the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, known as the body’s “good mood hormone.” It should be noted that of all the essential amino acids, only tryptophan can be converted into serotonin. Because of the low amount of serotonin in the body, there is an increased likelihood that one would easily experience depression.
Ironically, tryptophan is present in high-protein food including red meat. However, it should not be misconstrued that because of the high levels of tryptophan in meat it follows that serotonin levels would be elevated. On the contrary, studies show that consumption of too much protein decreases the level of conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
In addition, there are also countless procedures used in the treatment of depression, although medical professionals would agree that the disease can be treated by complementing anti-depressant medication with psychotherapy sessions and family counseling.
However, before any treatment can be made, the patient must first be able to accept and recognize his condition.
The National Institute of Mental Health has identified the following to be symptoms of depression: Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities; decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”; difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions; difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping; appetite and/or weight changes; thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts; restlessness, irritability; and persistent physical symptoms.
These symptoms may not necessarily be experienced as a whole. Some would experience just a few while others suffer several of these symptoms. The NIMH advices that should these symptoms be observed, a professional healthcare provider should be sought.