Depression
Wellness A to Z

Depression

Jun 09, 2022

What Is Depression?

At some point in life, everyone experiences some degree of sadness. It's a normal reaction to a loss, disappointment, overwhelming problems or other challenging situations. Phrases like 'feeling down, 'feeling blue,' or feeling low' may describe this type of sadness, but it is usually only temporary. The downcast mood typically fades and life goes on, but that’s not the case for people diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

HELP IS AVAILABLE: Please Call 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 in the US. It's free and confidential. On the other end of the line is support and resources for you or a loved one who is in distress or crisis and may be contemplating suicide.

The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a common yet serious mental illness that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act [1]. This mental disorder can cause you to lose interest in things you once loved and enjoyed. Focusing, concentration, and decision-making tend to be challenging, affecting your ability to work, obtain an education, or maintain relationships. Isolating yourself from friends and family is not unusual.

Depression is also called clinical depression, major depressive order or major depression. Anxiety often accompanies depression, but it can co-exist with other mental disorders such as eating disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, or PTSD. Depression sufferers experience thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness, failure and sometimes, unreasonable guilt. They may also experience moods such as anger, irritability or an unexplained emptiness [2]. 

What Can Cause Depression?

Depression has a variety of causes and many different triggers, such as a traumatic or stressful event. Certain personality traits like low self-esteem may make you more susceptible to experiencing that 'downward spiral.’ 

  • Brain chemistry - Some research shows that not having enough chemical messengers or neurotransmitters in the brain contributes to depression. These messages are critical to mood regulation. Low levels of any neurotransmitters such as Dopamine, Norepinephrine and Serotonin, or high amounts of the stress hormone cortisol can create a chemical imbalance leading to depression [3]. 
  • Biological differences - Many people with clinical depression have physical changes in their brains. The hope is that these changes can help identify the causes of depression in future research [4]. 
  • Hormones - Hormonal changes may be a cause or a trigger of depression. Pregnant women experience hormonal changes following delivery (postpartum), which in some new mothers results in postpartum depression. Thyroid issues and menopause are just a few of the hormonal conditions that can cause depression [4].
  • Genetics - When a family history of major depressive disorder exists, relatives are two to three times more likely to develop depression. Familial depression can also predispose family members to anxiety disorders and social phobias [5]. 
  • Substance abuse - Drugs and alcohol directly affect brain chemistry, resulting in depression [6]. Alcohol and drug abusers often find themselves experiencing a downward spiral into depression due to the changes in brain chemistry. They also may feel guilt or shame as their addiction disrupts their ability to function at work or school.  It becomes impossible to maintain a stable home life, handle money or deal with life's challenges. Without help, the result is depression.
  • Chronic health conditions - A serious, life-altering chronic illness or disease diagnosis can cause feelings of sadness and despair. Feeling downcast is a normal response; however, if those feelings don't subside, it can lead to depression. People diagnosed with incurable conditions like cancer, heart disease, Parkinson's, MS, diabetes and HIV/AIDS can trigger depression [7]. 

Symptoms Of Depression

If you experience some of the following symptoms almost every day for two weeks or more, you could be living with depression:

  • Feeling sad, anxious or empty
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless and negative
  • Crying more than normal
  • Feeling annoyed, irritable or angry without cause
  • Loss of pleasure in life
  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies or activities 
  • Chronic aches, pains, cramps, headaches or digestive issues that don't go away (even with treatment)
  • Lack of energy, constantly tired
  • Trouble concentrating, recalling or making decisions
  • Moving or talking slowly (feeling like you're in slow-motion)
  • Sleep issues
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, self-harm or suicide attempts [8]

Men, women, teenagers and children exhibit signs and symptoms of depression differently. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be depressed, please check this detailed symptoms list by gender or age. 

HELP IS AVAILABLE: Please Call 1-800-273-8255. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 in the US. It's free and confidential. On the other end of the line is support and resources for you or a loved one who is in distress or crisis and may be contemplating suicide.

Natural Ways To Reduce Depression Symptoms

Whether you are experiencing a depressive episode or have been diagnosed with major depression, there are natural remedies that may help support your mental health. 

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy with a licensed psychologist)
  • Physical activity & regular exercise
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Stress management 
  • Mindfulness & meditation
  • Spend time in the sunshine (natural source of vitamin D)
  • Enjoy your favorite tunes
  • Gardening & other outdoor hobbies
  • Animal-assisted activities (AAA) & animal-assisted therapy (AAT)
  • Socialize with positive people
  • Establish healthy sleep habits
  • Try mood-enhancing supplements
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Quit smoking, drinking or taking illegal drugs [9]

Even if your mental health relies on medication to improve your depression, some of these alternative treatments can help you feel better and support your mental health if you give them a chance.

Supplements That Can Help Lift Mood

If you are suffering from depression, you may have considered trying to manage it without medication. Along with lifestyle changes, some supplements help ease depression symptoms by improving concentration, enhancing moods and boosting energy levels. You may also choose to take a natural supplement with your antidepressant as additional support for your mental health. Discuss all changes to your treatment regimen with your doctor.

  • SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine)
  • Probiotics
  • Omega-Fatty Acids
  • St. John's Wort
  • Lion's Mane
  • Gingko biloba
  •  5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) [10]

Clear Probiotics Products For Mood

Recent studies show that there is a direct correlation between depressive disorders and gut health. If your gut biome is out of balance, it may negatively affect your mood, focus, digestion and overall health. Clear Brain & Mood Probiotic Blend can help alleviate symptoms of low mood and boost your cognitive health by restoring your gut-brain axis. Our ProbioticsPLUS™ blend contains brain-boosting probiotics and therapeutic ingredients like Lion's Mane mushroom and Ginkgo biloba to help rebalance your gut flora and improve your mood to feel energized, focused and mentally sharper. 

Resources:

  1. American Psychiatric Association (APA). (n.d.) What Is Depression? [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
  2. Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division. (n.d.) What’s the difference between sadness and depression? [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/q-and-a/whats-the-difference-between-sadness-and-depression 
  3. Schimelpfening, Nancy. (2021) The Chemistry of Depression: What Is the Biochemical Basis of Depression? [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-chemistry-of-depression-1065137
  4. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018) Diseases & Conditions: Depression (major depressive disorder). Mayo Clinic. [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
  5. Levinson, Douglas F. M.D., Nichols, Walter E. M.D. (n.d.) Genetics of Brain Function. Major Depression and Genetics. Stanford Medicine - Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. [Internet] March 29, 2022: https://med.stanford.edu/depressiongenetics/mddandgenes.html
  6. NHS Services. (n.d.) Mental Health Conditions: Causes - Clinical depression. [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/causes/ 
  7. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.) Health Library: Chronic Illness and Depression. [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9288-chronic-illness-and-depression
  8. Higuera, Valencia. (2021). Everything You Need to Know About Depression (Major Depressive Disorder). Healthline. [Internet] March 29, 2022: https://www.healthline.com/health/depression#symptoms 
  9. Flow Neuroscience. (n.d.) 12 natural treatments for depression: Science-based and medication-free depression treatments. [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://flowneuroscience.com/home/articles/12-natural-treatments-for-depression/ 
  10. Kroner, Arno, DAOM, LAc. (2020) 8 Natural Depression Remedies to Consider. Very Well Health. [Internet] Accessed March 29, 2022: https://www.verywellhealth.com/natural-treatments-for-depression-89243
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