is a state of feeling ‘down’ which lasts for a long but
indefinite period of time
What to look for
For major depression, you may
experience four or more of the following:
feelings of guilt,
worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness.
loss of interest or
enjoyment in nearly every aspect of life.
lack of concentrating.
weight gain or loss.
fatigue, lack of energy.
loss of interest in sex
physical symptoms such as headaches,
and blurred vision
thoughts of suicide or
slow speech; slow
a drop in school performance, difficulty concentrating (In children and
We all feel down at times for
different reasons. But ongoing depression is another matter.
Depression can last from a few
weeks to 6 months or more.
Major depression, or depressive
illness, is a serious condition that can lead to an inability to function or
even to suicide. Sufferers experience not only a depressed mood but also
more harmful symptoms such as those listed above. It is a cyclical illness,
so though most patients recover from their first depressive episode, the
recurrence rate is high.
Major depression often appears
unexpectedly, is seemingly unprovoked, and often disappears unexpectedly as
well, usually in 6 to 12 months. Because of its disabling effects or the
possibility of suicide, major depression needs treatment.
There are many cause of
depression. Depressive reaction, or "normal depression," occurs as a result of a
particular event for example, when a family member dies.
Depressed moods can also be a
side effect of medication, hormonal changes (such as before menstrual periods or after
childbirth), or a physical illness, such as the
flu or a
Although the exact causes of
major depression are unknown, researchers currently believe that both forms are caused by
a malfunction in the brain chemical (these chemicals help monitor and regulate moods).
The elderly who suffer from
depression are often misdiagnosed as having senile dementia which is incurable. This is
unfortunate as depression is treatable and there is a high success rate once properly
You should consult a
psychiatrist in order to be properly diagnosed if you have any of the above symptoms.
There are many therapies,
both conventional and alternative, that are available for depression. Treatments may vary
according to the cause of the depression and its severity. Conventional methods include
psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
(ECT) or electric shock treatment is still rather controversial but has been refined over
the last 20 years. This form of therapy should only be considered once all other options
have been explored.
Many alternative therapies
are effective but should only ever be thought of as complementary to conventional medical
In addition to your
conventional therapies you might want to investigate yoga and acupuncture both having had
some success with other people suffering from depression.
Aromatherapy may ease mental fatigue and help with sleep. The essential oils that may
benefit depression are
recutita). The oil
may be inhaled, put in a bath, or on the edge of your pillow (1 or 2 drops). (see aromatherapy for more information.)
Chinese Herbs -
are a number of Chinese Remedies for depression - see a Proffesional for advice on the one
that will suit you.
Exercise should be a part of any therapy for depression; it improves blood flow to the
brain, elevates mood, and relieves stress.
Herbal Therapies -
An experienced herbalist will recommend a particular combination of herbs tailored to
your specific symptoms.
St Johns Wort is a popular
choice for depression.
Bach Flower Remedies -
for those of you who are easily discouraged, gorse for feelings of hopelessness and
despair, wild rose for apathy and mustard for depression for unknown reasons. (see our
section on Bach Flower Remedies)
Because depressive symptoms
are exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies, good nutrition is important.
Try supplements such as
B complex, potassium,
L-tryptophan, L- tyrosine, Lecithin,
Proper diet, exercise,
vacations, no overwork and stress, doing things you enjoy all help keep the blues at bay.
When to seek further
There is a
distinct difference between feeling "depressed" and having a depressive
illness. If you have low spirits for a while, don't be concerned. However, if you feel you
can't lift yourself out of your misery, seek help.