By Debbie Allen, Aurora, ON
When we talk about depression it is a word with so many different symptoms attached to it. Symptoms might include feelings of helplessness, crying all the time, anxiety, low self esteem, lack of energy, sleeping difficulties, extreme fatigue, irritability and restlessness, chronic joint pain, gastrointestinal problems and appetite changes.
It is also known as the invisible illness because people around the patient find it difficult to understand, they can’t see it, some might even dismiss it all together and this makes the symptoms worse for the patient. Often the patient will say the hardest part of this illness is the stigma and discrimination because it creates isolation, exclusion from activities, loss of friends and family and difficulty getting and keeping a job.
Depression is very real and extremely difficult for the person experiencing it. Because the symptoms are both physical and emotional they share the same pathways, neuro-chemical pathways that are influenced by serotonin and norepinephrine. Often the worse the physical symptoms the more severe the depression. We always think of depression as affecting the mind but it goes far deeper then that.
Did you know:
· Depression can increase the risk of sudden death from a second heart attack among heart patients and it worsens outcomes of both coronary and ischemic heart disease.
· Depression is associated with complications of diabetes affecting eyesight and is significantly associated with death within the type II diabetes population.
· 65% of patients with depression have clinically-significant pain while 37–58% of patients with pain live with depression.
· Depression is highly concentrated among those being treated at the same time for stomach acid, high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Depression should not simply be described as a disorder of the brain but in fact a series of biological changes that span the brain and body, affecting both physical and emotional.
There are different forms of depression:
Major Depressive Disorder
Patients suffer from a combination of symptoms that undermine their ability to sleep, study, work, eat and enjoy life. Some people only experience one episode while others live with it on a daily basis
Dysthymin or Mild Chronic Depression
The symptoms are not as severe as in major depression, they do not disable the patient but it could last for years.
This severe depression includes hallucinations, delusions and withdrawal from reality.
This is not just the baby blues after birth it is a diagnosis of depression after the birth of their baby. It can develop with in the first year of birth. It can last months or even years.
SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
This is much more common for people who live further away from the equator. It is often developed during the winter months when there is less sunlight. The symptoms go away as soon as spring comes and it is lighter and warmer out. There is special light therapy available for these patients.
In February 2011 I had an 18 year old male named Jason come into my office seeking help for depression. He was on four different medications prescribed by his psychiatrist. Teva-Buspirone, Seroquel, Pristiq and Effexor were his cocktail for depression and insomnia. He had a very traumatic childhood with divorced parents, custody battles, kidnapping, bullying and verbal abuse. He was basically living in his basement most of the time, sleeping all day and awake gaming and watching movies all night. He was depressed, isolated from his friends, family and the outside world, had poor hygiene not showering or brushing his teeth and was stuck and not moving through life. As I spoke with Jason it was apparent how intelligent and well spoken he was. He hung his head low and kept his hair over his eyes. He suffered from low self esteem and the feeling that everyone was watching and criticizing him.
I did counseling, homeopathic medicine, diet and supplements with him. He desired to come off of his medication so I worked with his psychiatrist to lower the dose. I continued to give him homeopathic medicine while he was coming off of his prescription medication. Month by month as we talked about his past and worked through his thoughts his depression was improving.
I would say to him, “set yourself a blaze and others will be attracted to the warmth.”
That is exactly what he did. By December 11th 2012 this amazing young man was off all his prescription drugs. He finished high school and was attending college, got his drivers license, had a girl friend, was socializing and looking after his hygiene.
He was determined to not let his past affect his future. He worked hard to release the grief and sadness and the depression went right along with it.
Don’t let another day go by. If you are feeling depressed, reach out for help. If you want more information on my services please visit my website at www.healthonearth.ca
or email me at [email protected]