Depression – Types, Causes, and Dietary Recommendations

Depression is more than just a low or bad mood, it is the most common problem which the world is facing today, from school-going children to housewives, from a high profile individual to a middle class man – everyone these days has gone through (or is going through) mild or severe depression.

I’m not reluctant to admit that I am also one of those who have faced this demon depression some 10 years back, when nothing seemed to be okay – I was scared, unhappy with life, despondent, and used to think that nothing good will ever happen with me. This was the time I was suffering from pregnancy related depression. About one fifth of all pregnant women experience this kind of depression.

Depression, therefore, is a very common mental illness, the symptoms of which include (but are not limited to) wanting to be alone, tendency towards emotional outbursts and weeping, irritability, mood swings, loss of appetite or increased appetite, etc.

TYPES OF DEPRESSION

There are many types of depression, but the commonest forms of depression are Major Depressive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder (Dysthymia). Here is a list of the different types of depression (clinical differentiation) –

  1. Major Depressive Disorder
  2. Dysthymia
  3. Psychotic Depression
  4. Postpartum Depression
  5. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
  6. Bipolar Disorder

 

CAUSES OF DEPRESSION

There are several factors which can lead to depression, but the following are some of the major causes –

  1. Side effects of certain medicines
  2. Sexual abuse
  3. Conflicts between family members or friends
  4. Hereditary Depression
  5. Sudden major loss in the family or in business
  6. Recurrent failures
  7. Serious illness

This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be any number of reasons which can cause depression in an individual.

COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

The signs and symptoms of depression vary from person to person and depend on their environment. The following are some of the common signs and symptoms of depression –

Mood swings between extreme emotions like excess happiness or sudden sadness, feeling of hopelessness,  gloomy outlook, habitual crying or rage, indifference towards family and friends, restlessness, sleeplessness (insomnia) or excessive sleep, excessive hunger or loss of appetite, lack of concentration, headaches, and sometimes even a suicidal tendency.

TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION

Most people suffering from depression are prescribed antidepressant drugs, and in the long run, these people get dependent on the drugs and find it difficult to leave them. While some people prefer medications and psychotherapy, many others consult psychiatrists, psychologists or other mental health professionals over several sessions.

ALTERNATE METHODS OF DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

  1. Eat right to boost mental health:  Some nutrients seem to boost brain health and help in combating and overcoming depression –

– Omega 3 fatty acids: these acts as the building block for brain development, food rich in omega 3 fatty acid like fish, flax seeds etc.Hepls in overcoming depression.

Vitamin B12: Some studies show that Vitamin B12 also helps in improving the symptoms of depression but the exact reason why it is beneficial is still not known. Meat, eggs, seafood, legumes, and wholegrains are good sources of Vitamin B12.

Vitamin D: Deficiency of Vitamin D may increase the symptoms of depression, according to research. Exposure to sun is the best way of getting Vitamin D. It is an essential vitamin that is required for brain development.

Selenium: Selenium is another important mineral which has been found in managing or preventing the symptoms of depression but still the mechanism is unclear. Food rich in selenium like walnuts, cod, Brazil nuts must be incorporated in the diet of the patient.

Tryptophan: Low levels of tryptophan may sometime trigger depressive symptoms in people who have taken antidepressants. For increasing the levels of tryptophan one should incorporate protein sources like turkey, beef, eggs, some dairy products, and dark leafy vegetables in their diet.

  1. Avoid the depression promoting stuff like alcohol, caffeine, excess sugar, processed foods etc.: The effect of these things varies from person to person.
  2. Exercise daily:  Exercise helps in boosting the happy hormone Serotonin and thus helps in decreasing the symptoms of depression.
  3. Accept that you cannot control everything: Put your stress in perspective – is it really as bad as you think?
  4. Talk to some someone: Talking provides a great way of releasing repressed emotions. Talk to a close friend, or someone in the family. Let them know that you are feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or a therapist for further help.
  5. Get enough sleep: When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. It’s important to get 8 hours of sleep every night.
  6. Maintain a positive attitude: Start watching motivational videos, try to be in the company of positive and motivating people.

Finally, I would just like to say that never lose hope in your ability to fight depression. I know that it is easier said than done, but the truth is that it is not impossible. When I realized that I was falling into the clutches of depression, I pushed myself to come out of that situation, to fight the internal and external circumstances that were hindering my efforts at happiness.

Change is the thumb rule of life, and a positive attitude makes a lot of difference. Start with developing positivity in the little things you do, and sustain the effort. Slowly but steadily, it will build towards change. Today, looking back at how I was then, and looking at how I am now, I feel a sense of relief and pride for having waged the personal war on depression. Remember that ultimately, it’s you who can help yourself.

 

Article Credits – Dr. Sushma Pachouri

Dr. Sushma Pachouri

Dr. Sushma Pachouri

Hi All! I am Dr. Sushma Pachouri. I am primarily a general physician (B.H.M.S), but also an INFS certified expert consultant. I have helped a lot of people transform themselves - mind, body, and soul. I believe that change is the thumb rule of life and it should always be in a positive manner. My own fitness journey started with wanting to be strong and fit and to retain the energy of the 20s even when I was in my 40s. Fitness, for me, is a lifestyle habit that needs to be cultivated with patience and determination. And reading is the best way to stay aware and stay abreast of the latest trends. I am proud to be a Fitmag Author, because that makes me connect with people and help them transform themselves. When it comes to real fitness stories and truths, Fitmag is the best place you can turn to. So, read and enjoy, and educate others by sharing!