Have you ever suffered from depression? If so, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide and that it is a leading cause of disability. Fifteen percent of adults will experience depression at least once in their lifetime.
Depression knows no bounds. It can impact anyone at any point in their life, regardless of age, gender, medical history, or socioeconomic status. While depression may seem like an invisible condition, there are warning signs to look for.
Signs of Depression
So, how can you tell if you or someone you know might be experiencing a major depressive episode?
A major depressive episode is defined as a depressed mood lasting at least two weeks or more. Life seems filled with darkness or heaviness, and there is a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Depression also comes with the baggage of other symptoms that can interfere with your work, school or social life. These symptoms include:
- Sleep issues — either sleeping too much or having difficulty falling asleep
- Low energy or feeling fatigued almost every day for no reason
- Inability to focus, make decisions or think clearly
- Moving slower than usual or making unintentional motions to a degree that is noticeable by others
- Changes in weight and appetite, with an increase or decrease of more than five percent in body weight a month
- Recurring thoughts about death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan in place for suicide
If you are or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to start a conversation right away, get professional help to identify the cause, and find some appropriate solutions.
What Causes Depression?
What makes depression so elusive is that there is no one single cause. Hormones, brain chemistry, family genetics, life experiences and physical health are all possible factors that can trigger a depressive episode. While some types of depression can be attributed to conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or postpartum depression, for many the source might not be immediately apparent.
Unfortunately, in many situations, doctors prefer to medicate rather than investigate, prescribing antidepressants instead of exploring the cause of the condition. Antidepressants may have their time and place, but with a myriad of possible side-effects, they are not always an option for everyone. Also, a lifetime prescription to antidepressants is only a Band-aid solution that never really addresses the underlying problem.
Research shows that high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammatory disease, have been documented in subjects with depression. In fact, results from a national health and nutrition examination survey showed that subjects with depressive symptoms had CRP levels that were 46 percent higher than those of non-depressed subjects. Studies also suggest that subjects with a depressed mood have low levels of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), which is an indication of airway inflammation.
Over time, depression can also lead to significantly more inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is our body’s response to injury or illness, and when left untreated, it can cause chronic illnesses like heart disease and potentially even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. So not only is identifying the cause of depression early on important for your mental health; it’s also for your long-term physical health!
This is why visiting a Naturopathic Doctor can be so crucial. Not only is depression a serious condition not to be taken lightly, but there are so many possible influences, that it requires a 360-degree assessment to determine what might be the cause. The first thing you need to ask yourself is “Why am I feeling depressed?”
If you think you are dealing with depression or can’t shake the blues, I invite you to reach out to experienced naturopathic doctors. Please feel free to book an appointment online or by calling 289-837-3377. You don’t have to battle depression alone. We can help you get your life back!