Newswire » Useful Info » Depression – What you need to know

Depression – What you need to know



Depression – What you need to know

Depression is a severe mental health illness which affects over 450,000 people in Ireland according to Aware.  It affects how a person sees themselves, other people and the world around them. It can feel as though a black cloud is hanging over you and you are totally detached from the world around you.  The depressed person feels guilty all of the time because they feel they should be happy but can’t seem to muster up the enthusiasm or energy to do anything or to see anybody.  Depression grips the person with a paralysing fear and prevents them from seeing light at the end of the tunnel.  However, thankfully there are very effective treatments now, which have proven to help to alleviate the severity of the symptoms.

MRI scans show how the images of a depressed person’s brain are different to that of a non depressed person.  This is due to a chemical imbalance of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, causing the miscommunications of brain signals.

Symptoms of Depression

low mood and suicidal thoughts

low self esteem and confidence

feeling guilty and anxious

irritability and fatigue

low motivation and interest in things

inability to make decisions

uncontrollable crying or lack of emotion

reduced or increased appetite

sleep disturbance, over sleeping or under sleeping

aches and pains in the body

What causes it?

Depression can be caused by many different things, including bereavement, after the birth of a baby, (post partum depression), genetic reasons, the termination of a relationship or job, being bullied, during or after experiencing physical, mental or sexual abuse, hypothyroidism etc.

Treatments for depression

Speak to your GP or health professional
When you first start to notice your symptoms of depression it is necessary for you to make an appointment to see your GP.  He will talk to you and might put you on an antidepressant or refer you to a psychiatrist. It is very important to comply with your health care professional and go to follow up appointments.

Cognitive Behaviour Treatment

CBT is a type of ‘talk therapy’ which has proven to be a very effective method for treating depression.  It works on the negative thought process affecting the person’s mood, behaviour patterns and sense of self worth.  CBT enables the person to identify when they are thinking negatively and it encourages the person to think in a more positive and healthier way.  The CBT therapist is goal oriented.

The therapists teaches the patient more effective means of coping with their emotions and being able to solve their problems without them impacting so heavily on their mood.

Antidepressants work on balancing the neurotransmitters in the brain.   Antidepressants can take between two and six weeks to work, depending upon the individual, and type of antidepressant being used. The most commonly used antidepressants in Ireland are called Selective Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors or (SSRI’s). SSRI’s work specifically on increasing the low levels of serotonin in the brain which results in relieving the symptoms of depression.

Good food for a positive mood

A nutritious diet is very important for maintaining a good mood.  It is advisable to decrease your sugar intake as this can lead to blood sugar drops after a few hours which results in a low and irritable mood.  Avoiding alcohol and reducing caffeine is important for maintaining a positive mood.

Omega-3 fats are Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) which are found in fish, seeds and nuts. Contrary to popular belief EFA’s don’t increase a person’s weight.  They are as the name suggests ‘essential’ for the brain and the body so the fat in them is not stored as fat because it is required by the body.  The body can’t produce essential fats by itself, which is why it is necessary to take it in a food or supplement form. Dr. Andrew Stoll from Harvard Medical School conducted an experiment on his patients who were suffering from severe depression.  He gave them omega 3 supplements and they began to experience an improved state of mood after a few weeks.

B vitamins are important for maintaining the nervous system.  People who are deficient in them often experience both anxiety and depression. Vitamin B12 and B6 are particularly linked to the brain chemicals affecting the mood.  Some people are not able to make B12 themselves, this is called the ‘intrinsic factor’ and they need an injection to supply them with it.  Meat, eggs, dairy and cereals, (particularly oats) are foods high in vitamin B12.  Sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, tuna, salmon, halibut, swordfish and herring are all good sources of vitamin B6.  Other foods which contain high levels of B6 are pork, dried fruit, beef, bananas, avocado, spinach and poultry.

Serotonin production is necessary for a positive mood.  It is made from an amino acid called 5 –Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP). Dr Poldinger at the Basel University of Psychiatry conducted an experiment involving 34 depressed patients.  He gave some of them SSRI’s and the others 5-HTP.  Both patients said they felt an improvement after taking the pills for a few weeks.  However the patient’s who were taking the 5-HTP supplements noticed a greater improvement than those who were given the anti-depressants.

Vitamin D also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ is necessary for our mood.  One of the reasons why there is a high incidence of depression in Ireland is due to our lack of sunshine.  Sunshine helps us to make vitamin D.  Vitamin D is absorbed through the skin from the ultraviolet B rays of the sun.

I believe happiness is something that most of us have to work on, but it can be achieved by having a healthy lifestyle, and talking about your problems to either a trusted friend, or an experienced therapist. There is light at the end of the tunnel and life can be wonderful as well.  I believe only when you have experienced intense pain, can you experience intense joy.

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design