Clinical Depression is the number 1 mental disorder in the world and the 2nd most disabling condition in the world behind heart disease.
A staggering 16% of the population will suffer from depression at some point in their lives.
Why should you be interested in this?
1. Because EVERYONE at some stage in their lives will be affected by depression, either their own or someone else’s.
(Source – Australian Government research)
2. Because only around 20% of those who develop depression will receive adequate treatment.
If you or someone you know suffers from depression it is essential to understand what depression is; what the causes are; what the symptoms are and what treatments are available, both conventional and complementary.
What is Depression?
Depression can be defined as a mental illness which causes feelings of sadness and loss of hope, changes in sleeping and eating habits, loss of interest in your usual activities, and pains which have no physical explanation.
What does this really mean?
Perhaps it is easier to have a look at how a doctor would diagnose a person as suffering from depression.
A person can be diagnosed as suffering from clinical depression if 5 or more of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2 week period and represent a change from previous functioning. At least one of the symptoms is either (a) depressed mood or (b) loss of interest or pleasure.
(a) Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either a subjective report or an observation made by others. In children and adolescents this can be an irritable mood.
(b) Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
(c) Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
(d) Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness or sleep) nearly every day.
(e) Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feeling of restlessness or being slowed down).
(f) Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
(g) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day.
(h) Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
(i) Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal thoughts or attempts.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Not all people suffering from depression will have the same symptoms.
In addition to the symptoms listed in the above definition of depression, people suffering from depression may report some of the following symptoms:
Exhaustion on waking
Disrupted sleep, sometimes through upsetting dreams
Early morning waking and difficulty getting back to sleep
Doing less of what they used to enjoy
Difficulty concentrating during the day
Improved energy as the day goes on
Anxious, worrying and intrusive upsetting thoughts
Becoming emotional or upset for no particular reason
Shortness of temper, or irritability
Feeling miserable and sad
A feeling that even the smallest of tasks is impossible
Don’t want to see people or are scared to be left alone
Loss of hope
Physical aches and pains with no physical cause
What are the Causes of Depression?
There is no single cause of depression.
In general, ‘causes’ can be categorised into 3 main points of view:
1. Depression is a medical disease caused by a neurochemical or hormonal imbalance.
2. Depression is caused by certain styles of thinking.
3. Depression is a result of unfortunate experiences.
There is a school of thought that believes that the chemical imbalance referred to above is actually a SYMPTOM of depression and not a cause and therefore anti-depressants which treat this imbalance can never cure a person of depression as at best they can only alleviate a symptom and will do nothing to find or cure the cause.
Conventional Treatments For Depression
Medication has some benefit to around a third of sufferers and as suggested above can only ever treat the symptoms not the cause.
Counselling can be of help to some but success is largely dependant upon the skill of the counsellor.
More and more people are now turning to Complementary Medicine and Self-Help in their battle with depression and finding amazing results with this approach.
To benefit from Complementary Medicine and Self-Help it is important to fully understand what depression is and how it is affecting the individual concerned.
This may be as simple as treating an underlying anxiety problem with self hypnosis CDs or by using aromatherapy to help promote relaxation.
Another great method of self-help to consider is modelling.
We can all learn from the experiences of others in many aspects of life and beating depression is no different. Simply find someone who has successfully beaten the condition, find out how they achieved their results and copy and adapt their methods to suit your own circumstances.
The benefit of this technique is that what took one person months or perhaps several years of trial and error to find the right results, can be modelled immediately and the results can be achieved so much quicker.
In order to free yourself from the shackles of depression I urge you to fully research the modern thinking relating to the condition, reach out to others who have gone through a similar experience and don’t be afraid to try a different approach – you may be surprised at the results.
By: Alan Hands