Depression is a medical condition characterised by feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in many activities, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or self-blame. It is a complicated illness caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors. These factors include genes, environment, lifestyle, brain activity, psychology and personality, which can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain.
Depression not only affects thinking by having negative thoughts, but affects the body as a whole.
It can cause symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and body aches and pains; and behaviour such as social withdrawal and reducing a range of activities. People with depression nearly always have some of the following symptoms – sleep disturbance, chronic tiredness, lack of interest, reduced libido, change in appetite, lack of self-esteem, irritability and a bad temper.
If you experience some or most of the symptoms of depression, it is important to see a doctor or counsellor. Careful medical and psychological evaluation is needed to determine the best treatment. Treatment may include:
- Drug therapy - Sometimes antidepressants may be needed to help overcome depression. Different types are available and they often take several weeks to take effect.
- Psychological therapies - Counselling treatments allow you to talk about and evaluate the problems in your life that may be causing the depression. They can include cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy.
- Education and counselling
- Lifestyle changes
There are also a number of self-help treatments that can be adopted to help in treating and managing depression. Talking with someone you trust and cares stimulates the production of “happy” chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin. Hence, talking to friends or joining a support group can be helpful. Sleeping allows the brain to slow down and the muscles to relax. When we sleep our bodies produce melatonin, a deficiency of which has been directly linked to depression. So make sure to get a good night rest. Exercise is also a wonderful aid in the treatment of depression, working by releasing feel-good endorphins into the body.
Further, B-complex vitamins have shown to play a key role in breaking down the production of neuro chemicals which helps create serotonin. Folic acid and vitamin B6, in particular, help support the clearing of stress hormones by the liver. Supplements which include these key vitamins include Bio Organics Vitamin B Complex, VitaScience Folic Acid Complex and Nature’s Way Mini B Complex.