Our psychological health and well being is just as important as our physical and emotional well being. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions and psychiatric disorders in our world today. Contrary to popular belief, a simple chemical brain imbalance is not what causes depression. Mood regulation, genetic traits, stress/trauma, medications and other medical conditions are all factors that could cause depression in combination. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that are found to be lower in people facing depression.
Symptoms of depression include: self blame, difficulty focusing on tasks, forgetfulness, recurring suicidal thoughts, unexplained chronic pain/back pain, headaches, appetite changes, anxiety, irritability, lower interest in sex or hobbies, emotional feelings of sadness, insomnia or sleeping difficulty and a decrease in thinking abilities.
On average 50% of people are diagnosed with depression and a lot of people can go undiagnosed for years. Some people may not discuss mood changes with their doctor due to stigmatization fear. However, it is important to have the discussion with either your medical provider, family member, a loved one or a friend, about any changes you notice in your psychological, physical and emotional health. Having the conversation with another person about your symptoms is one of the best ways to start to address your symptoms and enable a medical professional to screen you for depression.
Some simple natural ways to improve depression symptoms and boost your endorphins or feel good hormones, include: exercising outdoors, spending time with other people in a social setting, going for walks, listening to relaxing music, taking a swim, playing a sport, visiting a new place, doing things you enjoy and working in a job you love or working towards creating the life you would love.
When speaking with a health professional they would screen and assess you to decide preferred treatments. Medical doctors could recommend a drug in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist.
Depression medications exist in different classes of drugs including: serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors including: SSRI’s, SNRI’s, NDRI”s, or atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants, or MAOI’s, mood stabilizers/antipsychotics. When you are prescribed antidepressants, a combination of drugs or a drug by itself may work, medical professionals do a trial and error to see the effects of the medications. It is important to recognize that you can become dependent on antidepressants, and antidepressants should not be stopped without medical supervision. You could experience withdrawal symptoms and it is recommended to work with a professional if you are on antidepressants.
In cognitive behavioral therapy, doctors refer you to see a psychotherapist or mental health provider for one on one counseling or a group session. Therapy sessions would help you to identify what is causing your depression, how to replace negative thoughts/emotions with positive ones, how to tolerate stress or be in control of your life with realistic life goals.
Should medications be unsuccessful, medical providers may suggest electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial medical stimulation (TMS). These alternative treatments use electrical currents on the brain to change the effects of neurotransmitters and require ongoing treatments.
Stay tuned into how your body signals to identify if you may have depression and take a moment to reach out to someone if your not sure about your symptoms. Untreated depression could lead to other medical conditions, a higher risk for suicide, and a lower quality of life.
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