==== ====Can you overcome depression without drugs? Find out more here:http://tinyurl.com/8xg8ey5==== ====The first thing to know about depression is that it is not just in your head. Depression is, in fact, awhole body disease that affects multiple systems.In addition to feeling sad, hopeless, or helpless, a person may suffer from extreme fatigue,decreased motor (muscle) coordination, changes in appetite and weight, and a loss of interest inactivities that are usually pleasurable--just to name a few of the more common symptoms.Anxiety, which is commonly understood to consist of fear without any direct cause, is highlycorrelated with depression. Anxiety is an imbalance not just of brain chemicals, but of the entirenervous system, which is over-responding throughout the body as if a physical threat isimpending. This can often cause the depressed person to feel very jittery, and some peopleexperience extra clumsiness as they go about their day.Only a doctor can diagnose depression, and if you are suffering from what you believe to bedepression, you should make an appointment immediately. (If you need help sooner, please dial9-1-1.) When you speak to a doctor during a formal assessment, he/she will ask you questionslike the following, which are adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of MentalDisorders IV:1. Are you experiencing a depressed mood?2. Have you lost interest in most or all of your normal activities, including normally pleasurableones?3. Have you experienced a dramatic change in your appetite, leading to noticeable weight gain orweight loss in the last month?4. Have your sleep habits changed? Do you sleep much more or much less than normal, or do youhave trouble getting to sleep or waking up?5. Do you feel agitated or jumpy, or have others noticed that you are more irritable than normal?6. Have you had trouble concentrating or thinking clearly?7. Do you feel abnormally tired throughout the day?8. Do you have overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness that thingswont improve?
9. Have you been thinking about death or suicide more than usual, or have you tried to commitsuicide?If you answered yes to questions 1 and/or 2, plus any four of the other questions,and these symptoms have persisted for at least two weeks with little change, you may be sufferingfrom clinical depression.Your doctor will also want to make sure that these symptoms are not due to what would beconsidered a normal reaction to a life situation, like a death in the family. It is completely normal tofeel those things after a traumatic life event, unless those feelings persist for longer than twomonths without seeming to become easier to handle.Additionally, the doctor will want to know whether these symptoms are causing you great difficultyin completing your normal daily activities. Depression is serious enough that it can cause aperson to miss work and be unable to fulfill family obligations.Risk FactorsPeople who suffer from depression are much more likely to suffer from other life threateningdiseases, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Much focus has been put on discoveringwhy depressed patients are about four times as likely as their peers to suffer a heart attack within14 years of their first depressive episode.Underscoring the whole body effect of depression is the research finding that depressed patientshave lower heart rate variability (HRV) than normal. HRV is lowered when the parasympatheticbranch of the nervous system is not fully functioning, and people with low HRH are at high risk forsuffering heart attacks.The malfunctioning of the parasympathetic branch may be a key in understanding how mentalperception of events that lead to depression affect the entire body.Causes of DepressionDepression can be caused by any number of circumstances. For some, genetics may play a role(this is especially true for bipolar disorder, or manic depression, which is not covered in thisarticle). For others, it could be the result of their life situation, such as an overly stressful stretch oftime or a disease.Many times, depression can be caused by uncontrollable stress. In this case, aperson is going through a negative event in which they perceive their efforts will not affect theoutcome. Caregivers are especially prone to this. With the advent of disease such asAlzheimers, a patient may need constant attention from a family member for years, causinggreat disruption in the caregivers life.In cases of stress, it should be repeated that the effects will be on the whole body, not just themind. Stress can cause the secretion of excess cortisol, which in turn can damage tissues in thebrain and body. Stress hormones can also cause the nervous system to become overworked intrying to maintain balance, eventually causing it to shut down due to exhaustion.
Depression Treatment OptionsAnti-DepressantsOne of the great advances in pharmaceutical medicine was the advent of the SSRI class of anti-depressants. Depression can cause an imbalance in the brain chemical called serotonin.Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm and relaxed with a sense of wellbeing.In people who are depressed, serotonin production may be lowered, or it may not be utilized mosteffectively in the brain.Neurotransmitters are secreted into the spaces between the brain cells. SSRIs, or SelectiveSerotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, prevent the serotonin from being absorbed back into brain cells asquickly, and brain researchers believe that leaving more of the serotonin in between the cells hasa mood-enhancing effect.Examples of SSRI class anti-depressant drugs include Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil. They have beenshown to be highly effective for alleviating depression and anxiety in a wide range of people,though their safety in children has recently been questioned.CounselingIn addition to medication, patients are usually also referred to a counselor for what is often referredto as talk therapy, or more formally as cognitive behavior therapy. With this type ofcounseling, the depressed person learns to notice their negative thinking patterns and challengethem. Over time, patients are able to prevent negative moods by intervening in their own to reflecta more positive outlook.ExerciseResearch has shown that consistent aerobic exercise in a specific heart rate zone has verybeneficial effects in fighting depression in both the short- and long-term.While it may be difficult for someone experiencing a major depressive episode to rally the energynecessary to exercise, most people who do experience at least some relief from depression withinjust 10 minutes of starting.Though not widely publicized, the effects of exercise have been repeatedly shown to result indecreases in depression that are on par with both drug and counseling therapies. For moreinformation on an exercise program that may help alleviate depression symptoms, please go tohttp://www.hrh-for-depression.com.Herbal TherapiesInterest in herbal therapies for depression has always been high, and in some countries, such asGermany, herbal therapies are preferred over medicinal therapies, according to the NationalInstitute of Mental Health. Many people prefer herbal therapies in general, because they believe
the side effects of anti-depressants may affect them negatively.Herbs such as ginseng and gingko biloba have been used to treat depression, but the only herb tobe tested in a large scale study is St. Johns wort. Patients who were followed for 26 weeksof St. Johns Wort use did experience a reduction in depression that was nearly comparableto sertraline, an SSRI.Researchers warned, however, that St. Johns wort may utilize the same metabolicpathways as other drugs for depression, heart disease, seizures, and some cancers. As a result,patients need to be certain to consult their doctors on the use of St. Johns wort with othermedications.Getting HelpNearly 10% of Americans will experience a depressive illness in any given year. If you feel youare in the throes of depression, please understand that there are very effective treatmentsavailable to you. Modern SSRI medications, which are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants, can start working within 2 weeks of taking the first dose. By engaging in somemoderate exercise, you might even feel somewhat better by the end of today.Though doing anything while suffering from depression is difficult, please do make it a priority toseek some sort of help. If you need others to intervene on your behalf, please communicate thatto them.If you are feeling depressed, chances are that people around you have noticed, but they may notwant to say anything about it to you. With a small overture on your part, they will likely jump at theopportunity to help you seek treatment.If you would like more information on depression, you can go to the National Institute of MentalHealth web site at [http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm]. There you can downloadinformation about depression and search for topics related to depression and depressiontreatment.Craig D. Wilcox is the author of The Heart Rate Health Program, which could help people sufferingfrom depression ease their symptoms. Information about the Heart Rate Health Program fordepression can be found at http://www.hrh-for-depression.com He also maintains the siteshttp://www.heartratehealth.com and [http://www.hrhprogram.com].Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Craig_Wilcox
==== ====Can you overcome depression without drugs? Find out more here:http://tinyurl.com/8xg8ey5==== ====