Depression has been labeled “a hush hush” diagnosis. The stigma of being called “depressed” has somehow placed a Scarlet Letter on those affected. Everyone reading this understands at some point what it feels like to be down. Let me tell you, we have ALL been there, continue to be there, or will be there. There is nothing wrong in admitting that we can’t do it all. It doesn’t make us weak. It makes us that much stronger for having the courage to say what everyone else may be thinking. I have talked about the effects of hormonal imbalances in my previous blogs. This month, I would like to focus on breaking through the silent conversations of depression.
While depression is known to have genetic links, it does not mean we are destined to that fate. With the convoluted ways of our world and the minute to minute emotional roller coaster we face from our home life, work place or just by turning on the news, there is no doubt we have all been plagued on some spectrum of depressive symptoms.
So why am I writing on this topic? I am writing because it is time to start having REAL conversations on what is happening within our psyche.
While depression has earned its own DSM code, all depression is not treated equally. Each degree of symptoms is just as important as the other. It must be acknowledged and accepted so that healing may begin.
How does depression affect the physical body beyond the obvious?
“The most frequently occurring endocrine abnormality in depressed subjects is hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Depression also affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-GH (HPGH) and -thyroid (HPT) axes. Alterations in the reproductive system may also play a role in the pathology of depression. In addition, there is increasing evidence that leptin and neurosteroids, such as DHEA, are implicated in mood disorders.” J Endocrinol Invest. 2005 Jan;28(1):89-99.
So what does this mean? Exactly what we think it means. When neurotransmitters are imbalanced or depleted, it drives cortisol into over production to compensate for the deficit. This puts an extra burden on the organ systems leading to the development of diseases we are too often familiar with.
What are causes of depressive symptoms?
- Hormonal imbalances
- Decreased levels of neurotransmitters
- Endocrine disorders (Hypothyroidism,Hyperthyroidism, Diabetes etc)
- Autoimmune disease (Thyroid, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus etc)
- Food or environmental allergies
- Environmental stressors or trauma
- Medication side effects
By no means is this a complete list, but it is evident most anything can cause symptoms.
How many of these sound familiar?
- Physical pain
- Hair loss
- Decreased concentration
- Fleeting thoughts
- Weight changes
- GI disturbances
- Sleep disturbances (too little or too much)
- Increase in alcohol consumption
- Spending increased time on social media or online (who would have thought?)
- Not keeping up with grooming or hygiene
Don’t give up!! There are many ways to treat these symptoms and come out on top!
How can I get well?
- Therapists/Healers. They are your BEST and #1 resource. There is nothing like being able to sit in a room for an hour talking about yourself with someone listening to your every word. They are trained to listen and they are trained to help. No, they can’t change the situation, but they do know how to give objective insight and perspective. We all at some point should experience the awesomeness of seeing a therapist.
- Breathe. If we block oxygen from entering our cells, then nothing can heal, including our emotions. Pick your favorite breathing technique and start inhaling power and exhaling doubt.
- Stay present. Easier said than done, I know! Learn to control your mind from re- visiting the past or jumping to the future. Both are out of your control, so begin accepting the gift of the present.
- Mindful eating. YES, everything comes back to the GI tract! When we eat clean, the body stays clean. Don’t hoard toxins that only spin you further out of control. Hydrate – 90 oz water/day. Even if you have to force yourself to get the water down, it is worth it.
- Exercise. Moving the body has been proven to release endorphins that stimulate release of neurotransmitters. Higher levels of hormones means happy you. Move, move, move.
- Buddy up. Nothing like being in the company of friends whose energy can give you a boost. Relish and cherish the bonds of friendships. BFF’s are the best antidepressant in the world.
- Explore your creativity. Color, paint, write, choreograph a dance, compose music, cook, sew….whatever brings out the Martha Stewart in you, do it. Stimulating our creative forces causes increase blood flow to different parts of the brain thereby increasing levels of the neurotransmitters.
- Get a pet. Now, I know this maybe a little bit of work so don’t panic on me. Just think of the love, energy, unconditional compassion they bring into the home. That is enough to take away anybody’s down days. Just consider it.
- Herbal supplements. I have included this on the list, but I am not a strong advocate of herbs. There is some evidence that certain natural supplements help lift minor depressive symptoms, but it has not been evaluated in long term studies. Be cautious! It is only a temporary solution.
- Antidepressants. Let me clear up one thing. Antidepressants are very effective in treatment of depressive symptoms and I am in favor of using them, BUT only in conjunction with other treatment modalities. Think of antidepressants as a crutch to help you walk on this rocky road. It doesn’t mean you are unable to handle the situation without the use of meds. It only means they help protect your physical body from the effects of depression. It doesn’t have to be a permanent treatment, but only to be used only until the storm passes. Whatever your reason may be for resisting them, don’t. They truly can help ease the passage into brighter days.
There are many more advanced treatments, remedies and therapy techniques on the treatment of depression and its associated symptoms.
The courage must lie within you to find the voice of your feelings. Sweeping things under the rug doesn’t make them go away. It only makes the magnitude of the situation seem worse.
We are all human beings. And part of being human is the glory of having feelings. Some feelings make us feel good and others don’t. It is about identifying those that don’t and making things alright. Because at the end of the day, it will be alright!
“People cry not because they are weak. It’s because they have been strong for so long.” — Johnny Depp
You are not alone!!
Dr. Raman’s Concierge Medical Practice is focused on holistic care and good health maintenance. For more information on healthy eating habits and achieveing and maintaining OPTIMAL health, CONTACT our office today to schedule your appointment. You can also learn more by following Dr. Raman on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.