Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with depression. Major depressive disorder can affect everyone, no matter what your age or gender.
One thing is certain, depression does usually run in families- if you have a parent or sibling who suffers from depression, then your chances for developing this mental health condition are increased.
If you start noticing some of the symptoms in yourself, don’t ignore them- visit your physician if the symptoms last for longer than a week.
Tips to Tell if You Are Suffering from Depression
Pay attention to increases/decreased in your appetite. Often, individuals who are suffering from depression will either over-eat or under-eat.
This mental disorder is one of extremes, which means that individuals suffering from it will engage in polar extremes that are not their typical behavior.
Appetite changes often bring with them weight gain or loss. This is one of the most common symptoms of major depressive disorder.
Pay attention to increases/decreases in sleep habits. If you find yourself sleeping more or less than usual and basically not enjoying life- pulling away from those activities you used to enjoy, you may be suffering from major depressive disorder.
Pay attention to lowered energy levels. Often, depression will bring with it constant mental/physical fatigue/lethargy. Often, depression also brings helpless/hopeless feelings.
You may have feelings of self-hatred or guilt. If you notice you’re experiencing these feelings, see your physician immediately.
Treatments for Depression
Often, if your physician diagnoses you with depression, the “go-to” treatment is therapy and/or medications. However, often, the medications bring with them lots of unpleasant side effects.
If you’re one that prefers to treat your medical conditions naturally, know that there are other options besides medications when it comes to treating your depression- it can be done naturally.
Treating Depression Naturally
First of all, you’ll want to think about the possible causes of your depression. In some cases, your depression could be circumstantial, not a biochemical imbalance.
Think about what is going on in your life and be honest with yourself about what could be causing you to feel off balance. Get to the bottom of what is causing your depression and work on fixing that.
Get some exercise. Studies have proven that exercise causes your body to release endorphins, which are your body’s natural anti-depressant. Exercise definitely will help to decrease your feelings of depression.
When you skip a meal, your blood sugar could possibly crash and cause you to feel sad, lethargic, and even depressed. Make it a point to never skip a meal.
You may even want to consider eating five or six small meals instead of three big ones. This will keep your blood sugar at a stable level.
Choose foods that will boost serotonin in your body. Most of the depression medications stop the serotonin from being reabsorbed into your system, which keeps you feeling pretty good.
However, you can do this naturally by choosing foods from the following list- these keep the serotonin levels stable in your system:
a) Coconut oil and other healthy fats
b) Omega-3 fatty acids (sardines, mackerel, wild salmon, anchovies, and sardines)
c) Foods high in protein
Something you may not realize is that caffeine actually reduces your levels of serotonin. Sure, you may feel good after you drink a soda or an energy drink.
However, you will have a crash after that “sugar high” is over, which will cause you to experience feelings of depression. Consider using a natural supplement such as L-Tyrosine.
Get some sunlight, which will help to boost your mood and also increases the levels of Vitamin D in your system. If you’re currently living in an area that gets very little sunlight, consider investing in a light box for some light therapy.
Consider taking natural, mood-enhancing supplements. However, even though you can get these over the counter, you should consult with your physician if you plan on taking these, since even the natural supplements can bring some negative side effects and have interactions with other medications.
a) 5-HPT- this supplement turns into serotonin once it enters your system. However, if you’re taking too much, you’ll have runny stools and may feel sleepy.
Additionally, it can soothe anxiety- but it can also increase anxiety. If you’re taking an anti-depressant medication, you must exercise caution when using this supplement.
b) St. John’s Wort- start out with a low dose and if you’re not feeling better in about a week, you can slowly increase your dosage until you reach the max dosage. However, this could possibly decrease effectiveness of birth control pills.
c) SAMe- this can be effective in treating your feelings of depression, but can be quite expensive. Additionally, if can cause agitation, insomnia, nausea, and GI upset.
d) L-Theanine- this is found naturally in green tea. However, it can cause sleepiness. If you are using this supplement and experiencing sleepiness, you should decrease your dosage.
Use meditation or guided imagery, which has been proven to work with treating depression. When you take some time to quiet your mind, you lift your mood. Meditation can bring with it lots of other health benefits as well.
Check with your physician about balancing your hormones. If your hormones are out of balance, your mood can be affected. Have your physician perform a few tests, including tests on thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and sex hormones.
Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not, just to please other people. Faking who you are can cause you to feel bad about yourself, which can cause you to feel depressed. Try to show your true colors and watch how your mood begins to lift and your depression begins to fade.
Talk to a therapist or life coach. Sometimes, finding someone that you can express your feelings to without fear of judgement can make a big difference.
If you try some or all of these and you are still experiencing feelings of depression, you may need to consider using medications. In some cases, the issue could be biochemical and you need the medications to balance things out.
However, if you do use the drugs, you still need to take care of yourself- get plenty of exercise and sunlight and find someone you can talk to about your feelings. Work to improve your life in all aspects. Don’t forget to let your true self shine through!