Health Ailments

Signs of Depression: Defeating Depression with Holistic Health

traditional chinese medicine

Depression is a common illness that affects the mind and the body. The signs of depression vary and can last from several days to several years depending upon the individual and various other factors. Statistics appear to suggest that depression affects women more so than men, but this may be due to the fact that women are more likely to seek medical attention for the signs of depression.

Fortunately, depression is a treatable illness and, with holistic health adjustments, most people are able to engage in healthy living even after experiencing an episode of major depression. Although some that are suffering from bi polar disorder or major depression may consider a depression treatment center.

Depression can be caused by a variety of issues such as a chemical imbalance in the brain, a hormonal imbalance, hereditary factors, seasonal changes, or depressive life situations.

The signs of depression include, but are not limited to:

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Indifference or pessimism
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintended changes in weight
  • Loss of interest in social and recreational activities
  • Poor sleep patterns or insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Crying without reason
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained chronic physical pain such as headaches and stomach aches

While most people will feel one or more of these symptoms from time to time, under normal circumstances, symptoms of depression will disappear within a short period of time. A person affected by a major depressive disorder, however, will experience signs of depression for a lot longer and, often, the symptoms will only worsen as time progresses.

The signs of depression are generally the same for most people, but may be harder to recognize within certain groups. For example, in an elderly person suffering from depression, it may be assumed that signs of depression are a natural part of aging. Physical pain, pessimism, and fatigue may be overlooked as signs of depression. However, in a younger adult or a child signs of depression are often recognized much earlier. Conversely, in very young children the signs of depression, such as irritability and complaints of stomachaches, may appear to be common situations and not be realized as depression. It’s important for caretakers and loved ones to note how often symptoms like these are reported or observed and how long they last. If depression is suspected or if symptoms worsen, a medical professional can evaluate whether or not the symptoms are caused by depression.

To determine if a person is suffering from depression, most doctors will use psychological tests to assess a person’s mood, and their thoughts about life and death. A depression test may also include a full physical exam in order to gauge a person’s vital signs and lab tests to closely examine thyroid levels or the presence of drugs or alcohol.

If it is determined that a person is suffering from depression, a doctor will most likely recommend one or more of the following:

  • Anti-depressant medications – Medications that will adjust chemical imbalances in the brain and decrease the symptoms of depression. (While medications are helpful, some can be addictive and often are associated with side effects that may require other medications to correct. A patient who is prescribed an anti-depressant medication should research the drug prescribed, be educated on possible side effects, and thoroughly discuss this information with a doctor.)
  • A psychotherapist – Trained to treat major depression through regular counseling sessions, a psychotherapist can often help patients learn to cope with and manage symptoms of depression.
  • Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) – Sends electric currents into the brain in order to stimulate a seizure. ECT is generally only prescribed in the most severe cases of depression or when a person is unable to take anti-depressant medications due to another illness such as heart disease.

People who exhibit the signs of depression may also find relief through holistic health treatments such as:

  • Light therapy – Reported as useful in patients suffering from seasonal depression, light therapy is intended to simulate sunlight and, thus, helps ease the glum moods of some who suffer from seasonal depression during dark winter months.
  • Increasing Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in flaxseed, flax oil, walnuts, seafood and other natural food sources, some who are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids experience depression as a side effect of the deficiency.
  • St. John’s Wort – Widely used in Europe to treat depression, St. John’s Wort is a natural herb many find useful in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

5 Superfoods To Ward Off Depression and Enhance Your Mood

1. Seafood

This family of food, including oysters, crabs, lobsters, and shrimp, contains large amounts of zinc, which is a mineral necessary to support the adrenal gland, fight infections, and enhance immunity. Chronic stress or disease can increase the requirements for zinc.

Other good sources of zinc include beef, pork, and chicken. Include these healthy seafoods to get rid of stress in an easier and healthier way.

2. Ginseng tea

Ginseng is an herbal root plant. It has been used for centuries as an “adaptogen,” meaning that it has been used to manage stress. Herbal adaptogens function to allow you to cope with the stress, fight fatigue, and improve energy, endurance, and concentration. There are several different types of ginseng tea; however, I think the Panax variety is the best choice.

To get rid of stress, drink tea two to three times per day during periods of high stress.

3. Bright-colored vegetables and fruit

Eating healthy foods, such as those in the citrus family, bell peppers, kiwi, sweet potatoes, and strawberries can help you get rid of stress. These healthy foods contain generous amounts of vitamin C, which can be quickly depleted when you are under stress. The organ responsible for your stress response is the adrenal gland, and it requires a continual supply of this vitamin to manufacture stress hormones, which allow your body to adapt to stressful events. Vitamin C is also required for the proper functioning of the immune response, which is often challenged during periods of chronic stress.

When you are asking yourself how to get rid of stress, take a bite out of these healthy foods! I recommend consuming two to three servings of these foods on a daily basis.

4. Tryptophan

This is an essential amino acid that is also important for producing serotonin. Studies have shown it’s not effective to consume foods with serotonin, since serotonin cannot pass through barriers to get to the brain. Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin, meaning that it can turn into serotonin. It is able to cross the barrier into the brain and, in combination with vitamin B6, it produces serotonin. The combination of these two nutrients is important for an antidepressant effect. Low levels of tryptophan have been shown to induce depression.

Food Sources: Tryptophan is found in many protein-rich foods, though much smaller amounts compared to other amino acids. You can find tryptophan in lamb, fish, poultry, cheese, milk, eggs, potatoes, and bananas.

5. Selenium

This is another mineral that can have an effect on decreasing depressive symptoms. One of the reasons why is that selenium plays a role in producing thyroid hormones—decreased thyroid functioning has been shown to be associated with depressive symptoms. Studies have reported that those on a very-low-selenium diet, compared to a higher selenium diet, have shown more symptoms of depression and hostility.

Food Sources: Selenium can be found in foods such as mushrooms, pasta, rice, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, eggs, beans, tofu, oysters, fish, liver poultry, beef, pork, and lamb.

Dealing with depression is never easy, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. You can turn to therapy, medications, and diet and exercise changes to make a difference.

Other holistic health practices, such as meditation, yoga, and other forms of exercise as well as consuming a healthy sans caffeine and alcohol, can also work to defeat the signs of depression and even prevent the onset of depression altogether.

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