Photo by George Hodan at Public Domain Pictures.

Depression, also called clinical depression, is a whole body illness that involves the nervous system, moods, thoughts, and behavior. It affects the way you eat and asleep, the way you feel about yourself and the way you react to and think about people, things and. Symptoms can last for weeks, months or even years. There are many types of depression characterized by symptoms that vary in their number severity and persistence.Throughout the course of our lives, we all experience episodes of unhappiness, sadness, or grief. Often, when a loved one dies or we suffer a personal tragedy or difficulty such as divorce or loss of a job, we may feel depressed (some people call this “the blues”). Most of us are able to cope with these and other types of stressful events.

Over a period of days or weeks, the majority of us are able to return to our normal activities after having a period of grief, unhappiness and sadness. However when these symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks and we are having trouble getting through the day, we we may be developing clinical depression. When these feelings of sadness and other symptoms last for more than a couple of weeks, we may have what is called clinical depression.

Clinical depression is challenges your ability to perform even routine daily activities. At the very worst, clinical depression may lead you to contemplate or commit suicide.

There are several different types of depression –

Major depression is a change in mood that lasts for weeks or months. It is one of the most severe types of depression. It causes irritability and a loss of pleasure in life.

Dysthymia is less severe than major depression but lasts for a longer period, often several years. There are usually periods of feeling fairly normal between episodes of feeling blue or sad.

Bipolar disorder is a disorder that features episodes of depression, usually severe, alternating with episodes of extreme elation called mania. This condition is sometimes called by its older name, manic depression. The depression that is associated with bipolar disorder is often referred to as bipolar depression.

Seasonal depression, which medical professionals call seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, typically only occurs during the winter months. It is sometimes called “winter blues.” It is caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight.

Adjustment disorder is distress caused difficult life event such as the death of a child, parent or partner. It is usually an isolated reaction and the depression disappears once the person learns to accept the event.

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Clinical depression is not something you feel for a day or two before feeling better. In true depression, symptoms last weeks or months, sometimes years if you don’t seek treatment.

Depressed people are usually unable to perform daily activities or go to work. Many cannot get out of bed in the morning or get dressed.

There are criteria for being diagnosed with depression. You must be suffering from at least five of the following symptoms for more than two weeks. This includes

• Feeling sad or blue
• Crying spells
• Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
• Significant increase or decrease in appetite
• Significant weight loss or weight gain
• Insomnia or excessive sleeping
• Agitation or irritability
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and
• Thoughts of death or suicide

Other symptoms, particularly in the elderly, may include an inability to concentrate, unexplained physical complaints such as stomach pain or muscle aches) and memory impairment.

Causes of Depression

Every case of depression is unique to that individual and there is no one cause for the condition. Naturopathic medicine does not offer a cure for the condition, which in some people, for genetic or traumatic reasons may have it for a lifetime, but it may help a sufferer cope with the symptoms

  • Genetic, biological, sociological and environmental factors can all contribute to the development of depression. Studies show that there are biochemical causes for the condition that occur as the result of chemical imbalances in the brain.
  • Certain types of personalities are prone to depression including those that don’t handle stress well tend towards pessimism, excess worry, guilt and blaming others.
  • Depression is also a symptom of many diseases and condition including stroke, diabetes, cancer, hormonal disorders, Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease.
  • Some medications used for long periods, such as prednisone, certain blood pressure medicines, sleeping pills, and even birth control pills in some cases, can cause depression.
  • Nutritional deficiencies such as a lack of magnesium, folic acid or B12 might also be responsible for depression.

Treatment for depression may include supportive therapy, such as changes in lifestyle and behavior, psychotherapy, complementary therapies, and may often include medication.

Once you are being treated for depression, you can make lifestyle changes and choices that help the condition known as “The Black Dog” stay at bay.

Naturopathic services provided at the Pinewood Natural Health clinic that may help you cope with depression include acupuncture, herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies and dietary counseling and homeopathy. Our integrated practice has a special focus on anti-aging therapies, weight loss, therapeutic massage and cancer support. Feel free to contact us online. You can also call us at our Toronto Clinic at (416) 556-8100 or at the Pickering Clinic (905) 427-0057.

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