- Mental Health
What is Depression
What Is Depression?
Depression is the leading mental health problem in America today. In the United States, over 10% of the population suffers from severe depression and even more people suffer with the more mild forms of it.
Depression causes the sufferer to experience a constant looming feeling of sadness that they just can't seem to 'shake.' It is not to be mistaken for the normal sadness we all feel from time to time, when bad things happen. For those of you who have never suffered from depression, the best way to describe it would be this constant feeling of sadness that comes for no reason and will not go away no matter how hard you yourself or others try to cheer you up. Normal sadness requires a reason to trigger it, whereas clinical depression can hit you out of nowhere.
People who suffer from depression find that they no longer enjoy or are even interested in things they used to love doing. They find it hard to enjoy movies, TV, video games, books or friendship, because they are constantly overwhelmed by this deep sense of hopelessness and sadness they feel inside.
Causes of Depression
The causes of clinical depression are many, but the top three are below. For yourself or another person who may be suffering from depression, it may be just one of the below or it maybe be a combination of all three.
The number one reason for clinical depression is genetics. Basically, your brain doesn't develop properly and it is naturally deficient in producing and transferring serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for happiness and feeling good. What happens in the brain of someone who suffers from depression is that their brain already produces extremely low levels of serotonin and, to make matters worse, the neural pathways that the serotonin travels through are damaged and or blocked, making it nearly impossible for the serotonin to reach the neural receptors. When little to no serotonin reaches these neural receptors, the brain cannot register feeling happy.
It doesn't matter if you just won the lottery that day or if you just got promoted at work or if your boyfriend or girlfriend proposed to you -- you just can't feel completely happy inside until this problem is fixed.
If you were severely abused as a child or if you had other traumatic experiences, chances are the way your brain was developing could have been hampered. When a young child whose brain is still developing neural pathways experiences severe trauma, the brain naturally does its best to block that from the child's memory. This results in physical damage to the neural pathways in the child's brain, which later can result in severe depression for the same reason as described in the section about 'genetics.' The combination of childhood trauma and genetic predisposition to depression produces the worse kind of depression possible and results in a very high suicide rate later down the road in life.
If you are already genetically predisposed to depression, eating large amounts of chemically processed food will only aggravate your condition. The chemicals in the foods throw off your hormone levels which makes it even more difficult for your brain to process serotonin than it already was. If you take a look at the molecular shape of processed sugar, you will see that it is jagged in sharp around it's edges. This is why it gives you a 'buzz' when this travels through the neural pathways of the brain. At the same time of giving you this buzz, it is also scraping and damaging the walls of the neural pathways. If they were already genetically weak, this can trigger serious depression and do permanent damage over time.
How to Naturally Cure Depression
If you are currently contemplating suicide, my advice is that you contact a professional psychiatrist immediately. Yes, the information below will still help you, but suicidal thoughts are nothing to mess around with. Get professional help immediately.
If you are suffering from mild to severe depression that is ruining your happiness, but NOT on the verge of suicide, the below information is exactly what you need.
Below are 6 steps you can take to improve the chemical production of serotonin in the brain as well as help to allow the brain to start repairing your neural pathways:
- Sleep - Be sure you're getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night. When you get into the deep sleep phase, you begin to naturally re-balance the hormones in your brain and body. You also strengthen and develop your neural pathways during this time, given you haven't been damaging them with chemically processed foods.
- Cut Chemically Processed Foods - I know. It probably feels like I just told you that you can't be happy any more, but the truth is you'll be a LOT more happy when you stop putting all that crap in your body. As mentioned above, chemically processed foods hamper the hormonal balance in your brain and body. When your hormones are out of whack, your brain can't efficiently and correctly produce the levels of serotonin you need to feel good throughout the day.
- Exercise - Regular exercise helps to produce LARGE amounts of feel-good and pleasure hormones in the brain such as dopamine and, you guessed it, serotonin. It also helps strengthen circulation in your entire body, including the brain. The better the circulation is there, the stronger the neural pathways become and the more efficient your brain is at working. A nice side bonus of exercise is that it will make you look great and give you an extra reason to feel happy, if you don't already.
- Finding a Hobby - This one isn't exactly related to the chemicals or hormones in your brain, but let's face it -- doing something you enjoy makes you feel good. If you're severely depressed, you probably don't ever feel like doing anything fun, but just try it and see what happens.
- Taking Multivitamins - Multivitamins contain a lot of things your body needs for your brain's health -- especially Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in the production of serotonin, so you may want to even consider purchasing a bottle of plain Vitamin D to take daily in addition to your multivitamins. This step alone makes a big difference.
- Get Plenty of Sun - Being in the sun causes you to feel better, because it is the only natural source of Vitamin D. I recommend spending at least an our a day outside, breathing fresh air, if your schedule permits it. The more time the better. As a bonus to this step, you may get a nice tan which will make you look better and ultimately feel better about yourself.
Doing the above steps will help to ensure natural recovery of damaged neural pathways as well as promote an increase in the amount of serotonin produced in the brain. In turn, this will cause you to feel much better on a normal basis and your depression will become a thing of the past.
If you incorporate the above steps into your schedule and you find that they don't completely abolish your depression, may wish to consult a professional psychiatrist who will be able to help you further. Just be careful and thoroughly research any prescription drugs they may recommend, because faulty pharmaceuticals result in over 100,000 American deaths per year.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comment section below and I will do my best to answer them as timely as possible.