- Mental Health
Why Am I So Depressed?
Children Are Frequently Depressed
What are the symptoms of clinical depression?
There is a difference between being depressed and having clinical depression. All of us have our 'down' days. If you pay attention to your feelings, you will notice that some days are difficult and some days are truly wonderful. Most days are somewhere in between.
Our moods appear in cycles. This is true for everyone (unless there is a diagnosed mental malady). Normal people have manic days and sad days. Sometimes there are concrete reasons for sadness and depression and sometimes we seem to feel depressed for no reason at all.
Symptoms of depression include lethargy, feelings of worthlessness, crying and inability to eat or eating too much (comfort food). You may have a 'headache'. You may not feel like talking to your family or friends. You may want to be left alone.
In clinical depression, these feelings do not go away. They hang around like a dense fog. You may feel numb or uncaring. Things that interested you before no longer hold any attraction. Concentration becomes difficult. Some people say that it 'hurts' to think.
FeelingsClick thumbnail to view full-size
What causes depression?
There are surprising reasons for depression, other than the usual ones. Of course you will feel depressed if a loved one dies or comes to harm. Depression is one stage of grieving.
The loss of a job is depressing. Unemployment and financial troubles are clearly a reason for depression. There are physical, mental and emotional causes for depression.
Let's take a look at some other causes of depression:
- Smoking and Tobacco use. Nicotine is a drug that causes brain chemical changes. Even in very tiny doses, nicotine is a potent poison. One teaspoonful of pure nicotine can kill an entire army. The lack of the micro doses ingested from tobacco use makes people very depressed when they try to quit smoking. It also seems to cause depression in addicted smokers.
- Sleep deprivation. Even a small lack of sleep can alter the serotonin levels in the brain. Your brain tries to repair itself when you sleep. If insomnia persists, your brain cannot function well.
- Internet addiction. Believe it or not, FaceBook and addictive internet use can cause depression. This is easily seen in teenagers and young adults that use the internet constantly. Perhaps it has to do with information overload or cyber bullying or another cause.
- The high stress of living in a city. Stress causes depression. This is well documented. Stress affects the whole body including the brain. People that live in small communities do not have as much depression as city dwellers.
- Thyroid disease. The thyroid regulates hormones in the body. These hormones affect mood swings. If the thyroid is damaged, depression may be a direct result.
- The end of a series. This one is surprising. Apparently, quite a few young people became depressed after the last movie in the Harry Potter series. People live vicariously through their heroes. They adopt a persona and when it ends, it leaves an empty spot that causes mild depression.
- Lack of Omega 3 or Fish Oil. Some nutritionists and psychologists believe that these supplements will cure depression on their own. They are powerful anti-oxidants and can help regulate the thyroid.
- Birth control pills and other medical prescriptions. Any drug or chemical has the potential to alter brain chemistry. Read the side effects section of almost every drug and you will find depression listed.
- Indecision. When confronted with hundreds or even thousands of choices daily, the brain will attempt to compensate by shutting down. The brain needs rest, yet on a daily basis we are faced with multiple choices that must be made from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. What's for breakfast? What should I buy at the grocery store, which brand? How do I react to everyone I meet?
- Bad relationships. No doubt living with an abusive spouse will make you depressed, but living with anyone you can't get along with can cause depression.
- Lack of Exercise. Doctors now know that exercise promotes feelings of well being. Exercise produces good chemicals for the brain and being in good shape helps to circulate those chemicals. It doesn't have to be training style exercise, gentle movements also create good feelings.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some, if not all, people are affected by the change in seasons. Winters make people feel gloomy. It may be due to lack of sunshine. Summers make some people feel too warm and lethargic. It may be due to too much sunshine. The seasons affect different people differently.
Science of Depression
What can I do to feel less depressed?
Once you understand the causes of depression and that they are usually temporary, you can begin to find ways to feel less depressed.
Good nutrition and exercise will go a long way to relieve symptoms of depression. Quitting smoking or drug use will reduce the stress on your body. Get up and away from the computer from time to time, go outside and walk a bit.
Spend time with upbeat people. It's hard to feel depressed when your friends are having fun and you are with them. Be happy for the accomplishments of your friends. Remember your past accomplishments and how you felt then.
Don't let yourself get bored. Challenge yourself to learn something new or do something you have never done before. Go to a class. Get out and about.
Think about how the journey of a thousand steps begins with the first step. Break large tasks down into little tasks and celebrate each step. If it is depressing to have to clean the house, just do one room at a time and take breaks between each task.
How about you?
Are you depressed?
© 2012 Lela