Sadness is a natural feeling that passes with time, but when gloomy feelings won’t go away, something could be seriously wrong.
In most cases, instances of feeling down in the dumps are transitory and a normal outlook soon returns. Depression, however, remains with a person, often haunting them for weeks or months and affecting normal life activities, including sleep, work and interacting with others.
Depression isn’t simply one ailment, either. It can be broken down into several different categories:
- Seasonal depression occurs during a particular time of the year, often during the winter when light levels are low.
- Postpartum depression happens to about ¾ of women following childbirth.
- Major depressive disorder is the most serious and long-lasting, interfering with every aspect of life.
- Dysthymia, or mild chronic depression, does not really cause any interruption of activities, but it does cast a bit of gloom over everything.
While everyone has “off days” when nothing seems to be going right, when depression takes hold, a number of fairly reliable symptoms are appear. They include feeling worthless, having no hope, irritability, insomnia, body pains that have no physical source, and either overeating or not eating enough.
Anyone who becomes depressed should see a physician. In some cases the depression may be tied in with a serious medical condition such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
Depression can also occur as the result of a traumatic event, regardless of whether it actually caused physical or mental harm, such as the loss of a loved one or a divorce. Even being injured in a serious automotive accident can cause depression, whether or not any lasting disability occurs.
No one wants to live with depression, and there are several approaches to treating this debilitating condition. If you have been checked out and have no medical problems, your doctor may want to prescribe one of the many antidepressants on the market.
While such drugs have proven beneficial to many people, they can also have serious side effects, both mental and physical:
- Some people become psychotic while taking these drugs and will commit suicide or even harm others.
- Liver damage is a serious side effect of these medications, proving fatal in some cases.
- Elevated blood pressure may occur, with an increased chance of stroke.
- Some of these drugs cause weight gain.
- Bladder problems can occur, such as not being able to pass water.
- Bottoming out of the sex drive.
As can be seen, using prescription drugs to treat depression can sometimes do more harm than good. The side effects are why so many people often stop taking their medication.
Before the pharmaceutical companies existed, people devised various ways to deal with depression. In the Paleolithic period, stressful situations came and went quickly – either you outran the lion or you didn’t. There wasn’t the constant stress of modern life.
Another factor is that the clans in which people lived were made up mostly of supportive relatives – fragmentation of families erodes the mental safety net that the more “primitive” societies provide to their members.
However, there are still several strategies that depressed folks can use to get out of their rut and begin to enjoy life again.
- Exercise helps beat depression. Our natural “feel good” hormones, endorphins, which will combat the negative chemicals, are produced during physical activity. It is also thought that regular exercise can help the brain retrain itself to overcome depression.
- Dietary changes may also help to alleviate depression. The consumption of too many carbohydrates from bread, pastries and other grain products can cause negative mood changes. Reducing carb intake can have a positive effect.
- Eliminate alcohol from your life. Alcohol is actually a depressant, not a stimulant.
- Make sure you are taking a good vitamin supplement. It’s impossible to get all the vitamins we need from most diet plans, but a good multivitamin, or a supplement of B vitamins, can often get rid of depression.
Starting to take more control of your life, getting out more, and actively fighting depressive feelings can all help you to overcome this problem.
Since you’re here …
… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading CAVEMENWORLD than ever, but few are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike some othe organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our articles open to all. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. CAVEMENWORLD’s independent, investigative journalism and graphics take a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.