Depression is no respecter of persons. Millions and millions of people worldwide are afflicted with this mental disease.
You must understand the complications and complexities of this as-old-as-age mental disorder. First and foremost, you must know the depression basics.
The Depression Basics
Depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 15 million American adults, and nearly twice as many women (6.7 million) as men (3.2 million) suffering from depressive episodes each year.
Depression can occur at any age, including childhood, the teenage years, and adulthood. This debilitating disorder is more than an abnormal emotional experience of sadness, loss, or hopelessness – it can interfere persistently and significantly with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, mood, activity, and physical health. We are living in a world of depression.
Depression may include anxiety attacks, panic attacks, mood disorders, such as bipolar depression. Different types may have different symptoms and varying degrees of severity, and there are significant individual differences in the symptoms and severity.
Some of the risk factors of mental depression may include:
- A life-changing event, such as the loss of a loved one or divorce.
- Chronic illness.
- Certain medications, including some high blood pressure drugs.
- Alcohol abuse.
- A history of child abuse.
- Sustained problems at home or at work.
- Physical trauma.
- Other family members with a prior history of depression.
- Chronic stress or anxiety.
Causes of depression
There is no single cause of mental depression. Psychological, biological, and environmental factors may all contribute to its development. Generally, depression may be caused by one or more of the following:
There is scientific evidence of a genetic predisposition to mental depression. When there is a family history of the illness, there is an increased risk for developing depression. However, not everyone with a genetic predisposition develops mental depression.
Brain chemical imbalance
Norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine are three neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that transmit electrical signals between brain cells) are implicated in the cause of mental depression.
According to a recent study, half of all people with advanced or terminal cancer suffer from some form of depression, anxiety or adjustment disorders. According to researchers, medical management of cancer has improved significantly over the past 10 years, but mental health care has not been fully integrated into cancer patients’ treatment plans. Research studies show that depression and anxiety can adversely affect a cancer patient’s quality of life and attitudes towards living and dying even more than physical pain.
Your mood, memory, and other cognitive functions depend on the efficiency of your neurotransmission, which is the communication between brain cells. Hormones in your body play a pivotal role in regulating chemicals in your neurotransmission —norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine — which in turn regulates your moods.
Your estrogen level has significant impact on your brain not only in enhancing the growth and survival of your brain cells, but also in regulating your emotional states, such as anxiety and depression.
As women age, their estrogen levels decline, and they are more vulnerable to depression. As men age, they, too, are at greater risk of major depression due to declining testosterone.
Your thyroid hormone regulates the metabolism of your entire body. Low thyroid hormone levels are both a cause and effect of low estrogen, thus leading to mental depression and mood disorders, such as bipolar depression.
Depression may be caused by nutritional deficiency. For example, magnesium deficiency is responsible for neurotransmission abnormalities. All chemical reactions in the body require an enzyme system to initiate the biochemical reaction, and magnesium is a critical co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body. In addition, magnesium is responsible for neurotransmission abnormalities — the precursors of different types of mental disorders.
Research studies have linked environmental toxins, such as chemicals, pesticides, pollutants, to depression.
Even some commonly prescribed drugs, such as sleeping pills, high-blood pressure drugs, antibiotisoics, and painkillers are implicated in neurotransmission abnormalities.
Is depression really a mental disorder? Are antidepressants the only solution to the disorder? Can one use the mind to control the disorder? According to Lao Tzu, one has to go "through" the depression in order to get out of the depression.
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau