What is Depression?
Depression is, unfortunately, a very common illness that manifests itself in individuals of different ages. It is a state of feeling upset, lonely, and isolated when the world is still the same. It is a rapidly growing plague affecting millions of humans worldwide. There seems to be a little more concentration in the northern hemisphere and among young adults. Among those affected with depression, the unemployed and recently divorced individuals lead the statistics.
This culminating trend of depression in recent years has attracted many researchers and studies to take place to determine the reasons behind the increase in the illness. Studies show that depression is increasing by 20% per year and what’s even more alarming is that 80% of depression cases aren’t getting any attention.
Experts, besides emphasizing immediate consulting, accentuate the need of a healthy lifestyle to thwart away symptoms of depression. A healthy lifestyle means a healthy workout regimen, a balanced diet and the recommended use of vitamins and supplements.
The Types of Depression
Depression takes on different forms. Depending on the severity of the trouble that an individual might be facing, it reveals its presence. However, experts classify depression as the following with each as a consequential level. They are stated linearly from milder to severe forms.
1. Dysthymia or Chronic Depression
2. Atypical depression
3. Postpartum Depression
4. Manic Depression
5. Psychotic Depression
The Causes of Depression
The causes of depression exceed those that we will mention, but here are some mainstream causes that are diagnosed among the majority of individuals suffering from depression.
Your brain and body work with certain chemical regulations. If due to any change, the chemical balance is disturbed, a person may develop symptoms of depression.
Depression transmits from genes as well. A child is likely to develop a case of persistent depression if his/her parents or blood relatives experience it.
Hormones change on many occasions in an individual’s life. This occurs more to women for they menstruate, conceive, and reach menopause. Hormonal imbalances among males also take place as a result of thyroid problems and other medical conditions. When the hormones are altered, people are prone to have changes in mood.
Unfavorable or unwanted life events are the prime reason for people to experience depression. Unemployment, break ups, divorces, poor grades, unwanted pregnancies etc, are among the leading reasons to depression.
The Symptoms of Depression
Initial stages of depression including dysthymia and atypical depression are common among individuals of all ages. They come and go as circumstances tilt in favor and they include the following symptoms.
- Inability to concentrate
- Diminished will power and energy
- Mood swings
- Parting with close associates
- Not enjoying routine activities
- Reliance on intoxicants
- Sleeping disorders
Severe forms of depression continue for a longer period of time and may lead to serious medical conditions. Several diseases are likely to follow. The following are the most common symptoms found in acutely depressed individuals.
- Noticeable weight alterations (loss or gain)
- Drastic hair loss
- All-time high intoxication
- Misanthropic behavior and frustration
Cure and Prevention
Depression is curable under all conditions, though it is easier said than done. The remedies to treat different types of depression can be as simple as incorporating a healthy lifestyle into the routine to as complex as undergoing critical therapies — several sessions a month and prescription medication.
With a busy schedule, it can be difficult to incorporate a healthy lifestyle. Vitamins and supplements are quick substitutes to help the body fight depression.
The following vitamins and compounds are medically proven for their efficacy to deal with depressive disorders.
Fish oil is a good choice to make if you are suffering from mild to moderate depression. It has been proven to balance the chemicals in the brain. Fish oil is found in fishes namely salmon, tuna, trout, canned white, and herring.
Intake of fish once or twice every week is recommended. Fish oil supplements are easily available and they should be consumed in correct portions with the doctors’ advise. National Institute of Health recommends 3 grams of fish oil supplements every day.
B-complex vitamins are widely available as supplements. B-vitamins are often used as a replacement to antidepressants.
These vitamins are known for their substantial role in brain functions. They trigger the production of brain chemicals that helps maintain a happy mood. Vitamin B6 and B12 are particularly crucial in this regard and reduced levels of these vitamins may lead to depression.
So to have the brain working right, intake of B-complex vitamins must be ensured according to the RDI. National Institute of Health recommends 1-25 grams of B-vitamins daily to improve mood.
Vitamin D and depression are also related. Individuals who are diagnosed for depression have lower levels of vitamin D. Given this finding, practitioners prescribe adequate exposure to the sun and oral intake of vitamin D supplements.
DHA short for docosahexaenoic acid is a substance found in Omega 3 fatty acids. It is crucial for neurological development and growth.
Many pieces of research support the intake of omega 3 fatty acid for depression. A study carried out in 2008 at the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey concludes, “Any EPA+DHA intake was significantly associated with fewer symptoms.”
DHA is naturally found in fish and DHA supplements are also readily available in the market.
EPA short for eicosapentaenoic acid is another integral component of Omega 3 fatty acid — derived out of fish oil. EPA is found to be more helpful than DHA to treat depression.
According to the Inflammation Research Foundation, the eicosanoids — derivatives of EPA in the brain reduce inflammation. This support is considered as an indirect mechanism to help with major depressive disorders.
5 HTP is a chemical compound that the body makes through tryptophan. It catalyzes the production of serotonin — a mood hormone. Increased levels of serotonin in the brain help develop and sustain a better mood and leave little or no room for depression.
5 HTP is naturally obtained from the seeds of an African plant called Griffonia simplicifolia. It is also available in supplements. 100-300 milligrams of 5 HTP should be taken depending on condition.
Saffron is a spice largely grown, found, and used in South Asia. Saffron has been used to improve mood, increase relaxation, smoothen menstruation and digestion processes.
Saffron shows impressive results in healing that have begun to be studied thoroughly across the globe. Studies have confirmed its results in the maintenance of brain chemicals and healthy mood. Given these findings, experts have publicized the supportive role of saffron in MDD.
Today, saffron supplements are being used to treat depression of mild to moderate nature. 30 milligrams per day in the concerned regard is the recommended intake.
The above vitamins, compounds, herbs and supplements are helpful to improve mood. But first, talk to your medical consultant in detail. You need to know all about your state of depression to follow the path that’s right for you.
Dr. Dina Khairie is a medical specialist who has spent nearly a decade in key positions at NoorVitamins. After receiving her doctorate in pharmacy from St. John’s University in New York, she began her career working as a supervising clinical pharmacist in the community pharmacy arena.