One in four Americans will experience some degree of depression or mood disorder during their lifetime, and each year over twenty-five million people will be diagnosed with a depressive illness. Two-thirds of those suffering from the disorder are women. Although, where men are concerned, the illness is noted as the “silent epidemic“ and the number is speculated to be much higher than what is actually diagnosed.
It is estimated that depression will cost our society more than forty billion dollars per year, and cause an annual loss of two hundred million work hours. Today over 17 million people, which includes 13% of our teenagers and 3% of children under thirteen, are currently on Prozac, the second most commonly prescribed drug in America. Childhood depression is hard to identify and diagnose and often ends up being labeled as moodiness, irritability, anger or rage.
The diagnosis of depression includes the presence, for at least 2 weeks, of at least four of the following signs and symptoms:
*Poor appetite or significant weight loss.*Either lack of sleep or abnormally long periods of sleep.
*Mental agitation or slowing of mental functioning.
*Loss of interest in usual activities, including decreased sex drive.*Loss of energy and fatigue.
*Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness.*Decreased ability to concentrate or think clearly.
*Recurrent thoughts of death, talk of suicide or actual suicidal attempts.
Depression can range from mild, situational depression to more serious states such as bi-polar or manic. From an overall systems perspective, depression can be viewed as a “warning sign” that the body-mind is out of balance in some way–whether it be biochemical, physiological, psychological, energetically or spiritually–and is signaling that there is a definite need to make some changes in ones life. There are many underlying causes of depression. Whether those changes be on an emotional, mental, physical or spiritual level due to a lack of vital energy, imbalances in brain chemistry, or stemming from negative life experiences or traumas, which may involve the loss of a loved one, loss of employment, a change of circumstances, divorce, long-term disappointments in life, chronic pain, physical trauma, or perhaps a spiritual disconnection or lack of soul awareness.
There are numerous factors that can lead one into depression. Depression may be a symptom of many underlying health conditions. These elements can include the following:
*Alcoholism: Depletes levels of many essential nutrients and amino acids which are necessary for proper brain function.
*Candidiasis: Chronic systemic overgrowth of yeast.
*Chronic pain: The experience of ongoing physical or emotional pain.
*Dietary Imbalances: Excess sugar and caffeine consumption.
*Environmental factors: Toxic reactions to neurotoxins such as solvents and heavy metals–aluminum, cadmium and lead.
*Food and chemical sensitivities: Allergies to foods such as dairy and wheat as well as to chemicals such as aspartame.
* Heredity: Approximately 50% of those who suffer from depression also had at least one parent that also suffered.
*Hormonal imbalance: When the endocrine glands (thyroid, ovaries, testes, pituitary, and adrenal) are under stress or not functioning properly, hormone levels may fluctuate and profoundly effect mood.
*Hypoglycemia: A condition of low blood sugar which can lead to chronic mood swings and depression.
*Hypothyroidism: Low levels of thyroid hormone which can lead to exhaustion and depression.
*Infectious Diseases: Such as strep throat or mononucleosis, especially in children, affects the auto immune system.
*Intestinal parasites: Symptoms of parasitic infection include brain fog, depression and feelings of gloom.
*Lack of exercise: Non-exercisers are three times more likely to have depression as exercisers.
*Lack of sleep: Lack of the hormone melatonin that is naturally produced by the pineal gland can cause sleep disorders.
*Leaky Gut Syndrome: Caused by candida and intestinal parasites, leading to allergic reactions, poor absorption of food and nutrients, and malnourishment.
*Lifestyle: High stress levels, smoking and lack of exercise can lead to depression.
*Low levels of neurotransmitters: Low levels of serotonin and nor epinephrine.
*Malabsorption: Inability to properly absorb nutrients due to deficiency in stomach HCL, pancreatic enzymes or bile acids.
*Nutritional deficiencies: Deficiencies in vitamin B Complex, vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium.
*Pharmaceutical Drugs: Such as anti-psychotics, barbiturates, beta-blockers, corticosteroids, estrogens and contraceptives.
*PMS/Menopause: Often accompanied by mood swings, anxiety and depression.
*Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Caused by lack of exposure to sunlight.
Part II of this article will focus on how to use a natural approach for conquering depression and DISCOVERING WELLNESS.
*Always consult your natural health care practitioner or medical doctor before self-medicating*