Pratt: What is depression and how can you deal with its effects?

Depression is a mental condition characterized by low mood, sadness, pessimism and other negative emotions.

What is depression? Depression is a mental condition characterized by low mood, sadness, pessimism, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, thoughts of suicide, and other negative emotions.

There can also be physical symptoms of depression like headaches, body pains, muscle weakness and fatigue. Most people can experience bouts of mild depression that usually last no more than a few days, but when a depressed mood lasts for longer periods of time, it may indicate a more serious mood disorder that needs professional attention.

Rates of depression have significantly increased in the past 15 years.

Recent surveys of Canadians indicate that one in five Canadians will suffer from depression at some in their life either due to stress, heredity, gender, age or other unknown reasons.

What causes depression?

Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it is not simply treated with medication.

Researchers believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.

In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much, if not more so, than genetics.

However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression, such as: stress (career, financial, family), recent loss, loneliness, family history of depression, gender, previous history of depression, chronic disease and/or pain, history of abuse or a lack of support.

How is depression treated?

Conventional treatments for depression include counseling and pharmaceutical treatment.

These therapies are depression can also be treated by a number of alternative and complementary therapies, including naturopathic medicine.

Naturopathic treatments for depression include lifestyle counseling (sleep hygiene, stress management, exercise therapy), nutritional advice, botanical medicine, acupuncture, emotional counseling and other remedies to support the physical and emotional aspects of your health.

However, if you are on any pharmaceutical treatments for depression, you do need to consult a physician before taking any herbal  supplements,such as St. Johns Wort or orthomoleculars such as 5-HTP because they can have significant interactions with your medications.

Some things you can do at home to help alleviate depressed feelings are: reach out to friends and family for support, exercise for 30 minutes a day, eat regular healthy meals high in protein, and go out doors in the sunshine to make vitamin D.

The most important thing to remember is that depression is not something to be ashamed of, and there are treatments, people and programs to support you through depression.

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