- You’re feeling kind of down. You’re not exactly certain why you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning and after all, that’s a fairly common feeling isn’t it? The desire to ignore the alarm clock when it goes off and pull the covers over your head and sleep the day away is something everyone experiences at some point in their life. It doesn’t mean you’re depressed or that there’s something wrong in your head, does it?
If the feeling of sadness, inability to engage in your usual activities, desire to sleep more than usual or not sleep at all, loss of appetite or increased desire to eat and these symptoms last more than two weeks, then yes—you may be suffering a major depressive episode.
The following symptoms of depression include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
Depression can be triggered by many things. Situations, hormonal imbalances and chemical imbalance in the brain. The exact chemical imbalances and their relationship to depression are not fully understood, but great strides have been made in the past few years.
People who are suffering from anxiety and depression all seem to have a root or reason for their depression. At times, it can be situational depression due to difficult life circumstances or previous history of trauma. If neither current situation or past circumstance explains the symptoms of depression, then it is possibly that there are physiologic reasons for the current depressive symptoms including the possibility of the following:
- Low levels of some neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA and acetylcholine.
- An increase of inflammatory neurochemicals like homocysteine.
- Low levels of serum magnesium, zinc or potassium.
- Low levels of essential vitamins like B6, B9, B12 and vitamin C.
- Deficiency of some key cofactors such as amino acids that aid in transporting neurotransmitter precursors into the blood-brain barrier (such as tyrosine and tryptophan).
- Stress hormone levels (cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine) are off the charts.
- Bodily inflammation (infections, allergies and sensitivities)
- Thyroid dysregulation
- Sex hormone dysregulation
Most medical professionals will tell you that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain but they cannot give you a definitive explanation beyond that simple fact. Most doctors prescribe SSRI’s of MAOI’s which are similar in that they are chemical balancers that treat the chemical imbalance in the brain.
Depression, whether caused by situations in life, by a chemical imbalance in the brain or other bodily processes, are deeply disturbing episodes that can have a debilitating effect on a person. Always seek the help of a professional if you feel down and the feeling persists for longer than two weeks.