Depression: Finding the Root Cause
When depression hits it can feel as though you've always been depressed and that the feelings are never going to go away. Depression is a debilitating mood disorder that can make it difficult to perform the basic activities of daily living. There are many different causes for depression and if you or someone you love is suffering from the disorder, you'll want to explore various treatment options until you find one that works for you.
It’s not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable admitting that they feel depressed. The negative mood rarely makes any sense, often rearing its ugly head without any commonly upsetting life events. Because of this, victims of depression are often hard on themselves. Loved ones often don’t understand and simply want the depressed individual to just “snap out of it”. Unfortunately, in actual cases of depression, snapping out of it is simply not an option. In reality, depression has many potential causes that are often physiologically based. Knowing the underlying cause or source of depression symptoms can be the key to finding the best treatment.
If your mood gets dark and bleak primarily in the winter months, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. This seasonal form of depression is caused by low levels of serotonin in the brain brought on by lessened exposure to sunlight during the winter months. Serotonin is a “feel-good” neurotransmitter that's released in larger quantities when there is prolific sunlight and also during exercise that involves repetitive movements of the arms and legs (like walking or running). Symptoms of SAD can sometimes be managed by visiting a tanning salon on a regular basis to expose your eyes to wavelengths of light that mimic the sun's warming rays.
Depression Related to Hormone Imbalances
A lot of people are familiar with Post Partum Depression or PPD, but the fact that PPD is caused by hormones is not well known. Hormone imbalances can play a role in non-pregnancy related depression. Imbalanced hormone levels have also been implicated as an underlying cause of other major diseases like atherosclerosis and arthritis. Scientists have recently discovered that some forms of depression may actually be caused by inflammation at the molecular-level brought on by hormone levels that are askew. Depression that is related to imbalanced hormones can be remedied by hormone replacement therapy by a qualified physician.
Believe it or not, negative thinking can actually bring on some forms of depression; however, in many circumstances it’s hard to know which comes first – the depression or the toxic thoughts. Targeting those negative, toxic thoughts with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or similar forms of counseling can sometimes help people overcome this type of depression.
Biochemical Imbalances in the Brain
There are some forms of depression that require medical treatment in the form of anti-depressant medication. Anti-depressants like Prozac and Paxil are relatively well-known and many people are prescribed these and other drugs to treat the condition. Unfortunately, anti-depressant medications do have their drawbacks. They don't work for everyone, or for every type of depression. Relief of symptoms isn’t usually instantaneous, and anti-depressants aren't a desirable form of medication for women who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant.
Anti-depressants may be a quick fix for some individuals, but not everyone will respond to drug treatment. It's important to keep in mind that there are many causes for depression and a number of proven treatment approaches that can help. Don't give up if one treatment approach doesn't produce the results you were hoping for. Treating depression sometimes takes time and patience and a commitment to finding something that works.