Depression is a common medical condition that affects as many as 350 million people all over the world. Caused by changing chemistry, nerve cell connections, and the function of nerve circuits in the brain, this condition is a serious threat. In fact, the World Health Organization characterizes depression as leading cause of disability and a major contributor to the global burden of disease, affecting roughly 20% of women and 12% of men in the United States alone.
While some people are naturally predisposed to depression due to their genetic makeup, others find themselves fighting depression without understanding the cause. Unlike the emotional fluctuations many people experience while overcoming the challenges of daily life, depression is often a debilitating experience that prevents people from leading a normal life.
Perhaps worse than the global rise of depression and other mental illnesses is the lack of valuable treatments worldwide. While there are known treatments, less than 10% of people in need receive them. Effective care is often unavailable due to a lack of resources and qualified healthcare providers, which is also compounded by the negative stigma associated with mental disorders.
While a lack of resources is a problem in many countries, others may suffer when they are misdiagnosed and prescribed with adverse medications. The information in this article is intended to educate readers about the various causes of depression and discuss possible solutions.
Health Conditions and Medications
Many conditions—such as Graves’ disease, chronic pain, and heart disease—affect the chemical stability of the brain. While the conditions themselves may cause a proliferation of hormones associated with depression, the treatments for many of these conditions are also common causes of depression.
Drug-induced depression has garnered worldwide attention because of its growing effect on the population. Asthma medication, smoking cessation drugs, and even acne treatments all warn of possible side effects that change the balance of chemicals in the brain. In fact, a study published in 2014 by the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol found that 110 common prescription medications have been associated with significant mental disorders.
Conflict and Stress
Nearly everyone finds themselves in a highly stressful situation at some point in time. Usually, after the stress has subsided, side effects would concurrently dissipate from a person’s life as well. Unfortunately, in many cases, prolonged stress can have lifelong side effects.
Many of the physiological changes in your body caused by stress are due to a hormone called cortisol. The release of cortisol is triggered by corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which originate in the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The effects of prolonged cortisol exposure include elevated heart rate and blood pressure, irritation in skin cells, and imbalance of the neural pathways and neurotransmitters that control your emotion and behavior.
Healthy coping methods, like deep breathing exercises, meditation, and therapy can help control situational depression and prevent long-term side effects.
When one’s body is in a state of nutrient deficiency, or even suffering from an imbalance of nutrients, one becomes more likely to suffer from depression. Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, iron, iodine, and other vitamins and minerals can affect the functions of your brain. Additionally, there are nutrients your body produces naturally, like magnesium, whose production is often halted for various reasons including, stress, poor nutrient absorption, and low intake of vitamins.
In fact, according to the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Innsbruck, low magnesium levels are known to induce anxiety, stress, and depression. To treat these symptoms, the National Institutes of Health recommend ingesting 300 to 400 mg of magnesium per day to promote regular sleep, regulate nerve function, and support cellular energy.
Natural herbs and supplements are an easy and accessible way to maintain healthy nutrient levels and decrease the risk of depression.
Help Yourself Feel Better
People everywhere are affected by depression, and many don’t realize that their negative emotions, unpredictable mood swings, and lack of energy are related to a clinical disease. Getting a diagnosis is the first step towards a life of balance and contentment.
While some people experiencing depression find it hard to implement possible solutions for depression, talking to a doctor about avoiding detrimental medications and maintaining high nutrient levels are actionable methods to help you deal with depression.
Author Bio: Andrej Sarevski is an expert nutritionist and freelance lifestyle writer from Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of professional experience, he treats many of his patients for nutritional deficiencies, and is a champion of herbal supplements that are known to boost the body’s nerve receptors. During his free time, he likes to hike the Santa Monica Mountains.