Browsing: Depression

Straight Depression or Bipolar Depression?

In the past, doctors were accused of being under-sensitive to the signs of bipolar disorder. More recently, the numbers of people diagnosed with bipolar have steadily climbed, leading to the accusation that doctors are now over-sensitized. There's a problem here and it is not just about diagnostic trends and bandwagons. Screening and diagnostic practices for bipolar disorder remain patchy and this is due, in part at least, to blurry boundaries that can exist between conditions.

Take a look at any forum relating to depression and / or bipolar disorder and a theme begins to emerge. First, there is the person who has been diagnosed with unipolar depression wonders if they actually have bipolar depression. Secondly, the reverse scenario, in which having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder the person wonders if they really should be considered as suffering with unipolar depression? How do these issues come about?

If we consider each in turn the cloud of confusion begins to dispel. Why might a person who can only ever recall being depressed being receiving medication normally usually prescribed for bipolar disorder? The answer should be fairly simple. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder can only be made if the person has experienced at least one episode of hypomania or mania. And this is where it gets messy. Diagnosing mania is far easier than its milder cousin hypomania (hypo meaning less than or under) and it is just possible that the extra energy and 'high' felt by someone emerging from a period of depression is actually what the rest of us might regard as normal. Then again, treatment with lithium, the standard medication for mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, can sometimes be prescribed as a catalyst for people who are unresponsive to standard antidepressants.

According to the definition of hypomania, which goes along the lines of, 'a distinct period of persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least four days, that is clearly different from the usual non depressed mood,' a distinguishing feature is that the mood does not change in the light of good or bad circumstances. Coach and horses come to mind with this concept. It seems to me that four days is a very narrow window in which to pass such a judgment. Add the issue of good or bad circumstances and I think we've got a bigger problem. Most people live rather predictable lives that rarely involve especially good or bad circumstances. Even if such circumstances were to occur, the idea that they would conveniently overlap a four-day period of expansive or irritable mood sees absurd. Establishing 'normal' when it comes to mood is a highly subjective issue at the best of times. Establishing what is 'elevated' compared to someone who is almost always depressed must be spectacularly difficult.

Let's now consider the issue of the person diagnosed with unipolar depression who wonders if they may actually have bipolar disorder? The same rules, or problems sometimes, apply. How do we know whenever the periods of relief from depression simply elevate the mood to a rare and unusual place? Happiness is normal after all so do not people starved of this most elemental quality have the right to immerse themselves in it when it comes their way.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder is a complex process that involves time and symptom elimination. Until recently, most people diagnosed with bipolar disorder waited an average of ten years before their symptoms were recognized for what they were. It's a process where patients and clinicians have to work together but being careful not to pathologize behavior simply because it is rare or unusual.

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Sleep Breathing Problems Associated With Symptoms of Depression

New research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that people who experience sleep disordered breathing – snorting, gasping and / or stopped breathing during sleep – are more likely to suffer symptoms of depression than people who do not have these sleep- related breathing problems.

Searching for a Link

For the CDC's National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers polled a national sample of 9,714 male and female adults, 18 years of age or older. The participants were asked how often they experience snoring, snorting, gasping for breath or stopped breathing while asleep. The participants were also asked to complete a nine-question “depression screener” on how often they experienced symptoms associated with “probable major depression.” The researchers also took into account variables such as a participant's race, ethnicity, age and education. It is important to note that participant's answers were based on self-reported symptoms, and that some people may not be aware that they are suffering from sleep disordered breathing symptoms.

Results of the Survey

According to the results of the study, which are published in the April Sleep journal, sleep apnea, snorting, gasping and / or stopped breathing while sleeping were all associated with symptoms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness and failure.

Other results of the survey:

  • Of the men polled, 6.0 percent reported physician-diagnosed sleep apnea, 37.2 percent snored greater than or equal to five nights a week, 7.1 percent snorted / stopped breathing greater than or equal to five nights a week, and 5.0 percent had depression symptom screener scores greater than or equal to 10.
  • Among the women, 3.1 percent reported physician-diagnosed sleep apnea, 22.4 percent snored greater than or equal to five nights a week, 4.3 percent snorted / stopped breathing greater than or equal to five nights a week, and 8.4 percent had depression symptom screener scores greater than or equal to 10.
  • Sleep apnea was associated with probable major depression.
  • Snorting / stopped breathing greater than or equal to 5 nights a week was strongly associated with probable major depression in men and women.
  • Snoring was not found to be associated with symptoms of depression in men or women.

The Researcher's Conclusion

Prior to the study, the researchers knew that depression and sleep disordered breathing are both common, but often misdiagnosed, medical conditions. They were also aware of previous studies on similar subjects. One study showed a link between the severity of breathing problems and the likelihood of later developing depression, and another indicated that people who were treated for their sleep apnea symptoms also showed improvement in their depression symptoms.

The researchers are hiring that the results of their CDC study encourage dialogue between mental health professionals and doctors – that both become more aware of the connection between sleep disordered breathing problems and symptoms of depression, and that sleep disordered breathing problems may also be an indicator of depression and vice versa.

Read the full study “Sleep Disordered Breathing and Depression among US Adults: National Health and Nutrition Survey, 2005-2008.”

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Understanding Depression and How It Affects Our Health: Part 1

Depression has become the third largest individual health problem in Australia – around one million of us will experience a depressive illness this year alone. What makes us depressed and how do we shore ourselves up? In this article series we'll look at how the paths of life can be debilitating or rebuilding and how to find the fuel to build again from where you are. This article is about depression, what it is and how depression can reach up and grab us as were we live.

The term depression is broad, we can use it here to refer to symptoms like low mood, low self esteem and a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. The DSM-IV, which stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition, is the manual that mental health professionals use to classify psychological disorders. In the DSM-4, depression is found under the category of mood disorders and is then broken down into subcategories of specific types of depression. Here, we're using a high level definition based on symptoms and we understand that depression tends to hang around, its onging, and these symptoms tend to effect how we function in our daily life.

These are some of the base line factors that are thought to contribute to depression:

1. Genetics – depression tends to run in families and in genes;

2. Brain chemistry – imbalances of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, which are brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, are thought to be involved with the development of depression;

3. Stressful events – the loss of a loved one, a major life change, or a serious illness, have been known to trigger depression. While some people have normal and temporary feelings of sadness and loss after a stressful event, others will experience clinical depression;

4. Gender – depression affects women more than men – at least two times more often -depression in women could be related to gender-specific factors, such as menstrual cycles, pregnancy or menopause.

As well as these factors, the way we live our modern lives make us particularly ripe for experiencing depression. Below is a list of some of the cultural and group functions that can help us feel good about ourselves or contribute to low self esteem and loss of interest and pleasure in the everyday.

I call these our Group Missing Pieces:

1. Lack of context – where am I? Without a strong connection with and identity in the land under our feet we can struggle to identify our Home. I was reading a piece of work about this by Glenys Livingstone, who was referred to her as “… one of earth's most alienated animals in that I did not sense belonging Here.”

2. Lack of rites – who am I? We are passing the miles in our lives often without conscious attention. Girls become women and boys became men, then parents, then grandsparents often without family or larger community celebration. This allows us to age without finding our newly grown selves in the context of global or even universal anchors.

3. Lack of fulfillment – what for? An overly mechanical environment can hinder our ability to follow our body's natural rhythms. Without the ability to be both passive and active in turn we can lose the chance to save the fruits of our labor.

Without the chance to follow our own growth, to share it with communities who can celebrate who we are and to explore where we're from and where we're going to we can open ourselves up to depression. When we address some of these Group Missing Pieces we build times and ways of reconnection with ourselves – where we are in our lives. Through that built connection to ourselves we can build communities that are growing stronger with every passing rite and we can create safe havens for individuals to dismantle what no longer is needed and grieve things that time has taken away.

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Understanding Depression and Finding New Ways to Overcome It: Part 2

Depression has become the third largest individual health problem in Australia – more women than men experience depression (almost twice as many) and around one million of us will experience a depressive illness this year alone. In this article we'll look at how the body can be used to create anchors for us and how we can make time in our everyday lives to debrief and prepare for our challenges.

Depression is a malady of our age and is part of our shared psyche – it could be called a spirit of our times. Wherever you are, whatever you do, the spirit of the age is present. Its important to know how you can assist yourself before, during or after depression visits yourself or someone you love. These principles are based on the running of the human body in synch with the energetic flow of life and draw from indigenous wisdom.

1. Principle one is context, context is the surrounding information that gives meaning to a certain event. Context can answer the question, “Where am I?” To build a connection with the land under our feet gives us both feelings of being grounded and centred- powerful wells to draw from when we feel lost or confused.

Shamanic context comes from the regular observation of changing seasons and tides of life. This could be walking daily and observing the change of the earth seasons, redecorating to change the colors or layout of your home, and consciously following the patterns of holiday times, a weekly day off, or a regular weekly event, like Friday date night etc . Our bodily patterns of eating, sleeping and creativity differ season to season, consciously marking the start and end of seasons helping us stay stay attuned to our body's wisdom and get in touch with what's happening here and in the now. To get in touch with the present moment is to build a sense of belonging that anchors us.

2. Principle two is rites, rites are a solemn ceremony that marks the changes in our lives. Rites can answer the question, “Who am I?”. When we celebrate the major passes of our life we ​​birth ourselves consciously. This conscious care and attention to what our bodies are experiencing can offset much of the grief and disillusionment of becoming something we are not ready for or welcomed into.

Shamanic rites mark the passage of girls becoming women then mothers then wise women, boys becoming men and fathers and elders, and communities becoming new expressions of their ancient ways. Acknowledgment and celebration of these transformations gives us anchors to go back to when we experience things falling away or falling down around us. Sharing our life changes with our families and our communities allows us to share the weight and the benefits of coming of age. This kind of community sharing helps us to feel welcomed and supported as we find our newly grown selves in the context of global or even universal anchors.

These two principles can be applied directly to balance and combat depression. Both of these methods hook us into the flow of energy in the world around us and the ebbs and flows of energy in the body that we live in. Happily, building context and honoring our rites can be very simple or as specifically organized as we would like to make them. The time we will invest in anchoring ourselves into our deeper wisdom will depend how much time we have to devote to our selves, how our communities are responsive to such activities and what suits our personalities. There is an spirit that combats the spirit of depression in our age and that spirit is harnessed through honoring our body, honoring our process and consciously marking the events that bring us into being.

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Teenage Depression: Self-Help and Wellness Tips

So many people live with a toxic, toxic level of depression turning each aspect of their daily lives into drab shades of gray. It becomes their way of being, making it difficult to excel at anything. They tend to attract negative attention and the cycle just builds up to despair, followed by defeat.

We are all seeds for growth and change at our core. According to Darwin, the ones best at surviving the challenges of the world survive and multiply. The seed of creation / creativity is our essence.

Every living organism creates waste . There is physical waste, emotional waste and spiritual waste. This waste comes into contact with our seed of creativity and covers it in waste. If you strip off the waste foisted onto you by yourself and others, you will return back to your creative seed, your essence.

Should these negative waste products be taken in to our psyches, they can be misinterpreted as our essence, leading to depression. By learning to cleanse ourselves of outer and inner detritus, we will be on our way to returning to our core state.

Here are some tips for helping yourself to overcome depression, despair and defeat:

  1. Washing Off The Waste. Water has amazing properties. Try washing your hands in cold water after a particularly challenging situation and say aloud your intention to be free from any negative energy. The very worst that will happen is you will have cold, clean hands.
  2. Walking. When the waste covers us, our essence becomes imprinted in our own body. The first remedy is to walk. Electronics-free walking is transformative. It becomes meditative; it frees up the body and allows the chemicals in the body to begin to transform us into well beings.
  3. Looking. As you begin to walk (preferably amongst trees), you will find your mind eventually begin to relax. Your shopping list of annoyances, fears and frustrations fade. The waste begins to melt away and you are ready to look around and search out simple pleasures: a bird, a tree, leaves, an ant doing its work, a lovely fragrance wafting in the breeze. As you begin to notice these things, you will find a smile lighting your lips. Give into it and let the feeling of that smile waft over you.
  4. Smiling. When we are in psychic of physical pain, we need all the positive energy we can gather. Smiling stimulates our brain-reward mechanism. It is more effective than chocolate (and no calories). It can reduce the effect of stress enhancing hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine, and increase the level of mood enhancing hormones, such as endorphins, while reducing blood pressure. Smile and if you do not feel like it, fake it! Pretty soon, it will be real.
  5. Eating. So much of what we eat today has been created for ease of storage and transportation. Going back to a simple diet with fruits, vegetables and protein used as a condiment will nourish your body and your mind. Minimizing processed foods will let your body reconstitute itself with the best cells it can use.
  6. Drinking. Water helps to get rid of waste in the body and allow our systems to operate efficiently. Our cells need refilling multiple times a day. Adding anything to water makes it non-water.
  7. Helping. When you find yourself overwhelmed by life's circumstances, go and help out someone else. Just focusing on someone else gets you out of the spiral of your own problems. It reminds you that we are all connected and lets that heart connection flow.
  8. To Thine Own Self. No one knows more clearly than you the words that can push you into a downward spiral and no one knows as well as you the words that will let your heart sing. Think of the most perfect words and actions to uplift yourself and then say them and do them as often as you can.

In Conclusion: So many people see the world as a scary, dangerous place. I see the world as a collection of shells hiding radiant, shining seeds filled with kindness and love. So on my bad days, I remember the radiant light and I'm ok for a little while longer.

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About Depression

Sometimes sadness and sorrow just rings the doorbell and waltzes right in with a hearty, “Honey, I'm home,” and you know depression has arrived. Other times, it grows slowly, silently, and insidiously. At some point (along time ago) everything seemed fine but then the days got heavier, then hopelessness and despair crept in. Over time, months, or years, like that famous frog that unknowing sets in the pot of water as it slowly heats to a boil, the sadness wears you down and you find that your enthusiasm for life has gone.

You feel miserable, discouraged, tired, broken, and hopeless but strangely this sounds “reasonable” and you might not notice there is a problem until you find your life in crisis with drugs or alcohol, problems at work or in your marriage, or you wake up one morning knowing that you just can not go through one more day.

You might even have success in your career, marriage, family, and finances, because you can pass yourself off as “normal”, but you're missing the joy, happiness, and that certain lightness that makes life worth living. There might be moments where you escape the dread but after awhile, you will find yourself miserable and despairing once again, having returned to your set point, as if you've signed a dark contract that requires you to give up your enjoyment of life.

We master the art of depression because we feel it's the only way possible to live life without completely going off the deep end. We build the skills that do not really bring us joy but do keep us going for one more day. We become master artisans in:

  • Blocking and repressing our unwanted feelings
  • Creating a façade where everything is alright
  • Self-blame
  • Procrastination
  • Work-aholism
  • Victimization
  • Co-dependency
  • Guilt
  • Low expectations
  • Putting our needs last
  • Isolating ourselves
  • Never saying “no”
  • Overindulging in comfort foods, alcohol, and TV

We keep it up until the alienation and sorrow has become too great and there is a suicide attempt, violent outburst, major panic attack, nervous breakdown, or hospitalization. The mind and body are crying out that there is something terribly wrong.

There is a wonderful quote from Dr. David Burns from his book Feeling Good in which he says:

Depression is one of the worst forms of suffering, because of the imminence feelings of shame, worthlessness, hopelessness, and demoralization. Depression can seem worse than terminal cancer, because most cancer patients feel loved and they have hope and self-esteem

You may be convinced that your own case is so bad, so overwhelming and hopeless, that you are the one person who will never get well, no matter what. But no matter how terrible your depression and anxiety may feel, the prognosis for recovery is excellent.

You deserve to live a life of happiness. You can beat depression.

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Clinical Depression Or Thyroid Problem

Your thyroid directs your metabolic action or the way your body breaks down food and transforms it into energy. One of it's tasks is absorbing amino acids, one of which, tyrosine, gets converted into dopamine, the supercharged, feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine then produces norepinephrein and adrenaline, which are famous for their instant energy giving abilities when you are under stress.

The American Thyroid Association states that:

  • More than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
  • An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.
  • Up to 60% of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.
  • Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
  • One woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime.

Hypothyroidism stems from an underproduction of thyroid hormones and fewer thyroid hormones will mean a drop in your body's energy production and lower energy levels, leaving you feeling lethargic, fatigued, tired, and depressed. A 1993 study found that 56% of women with sub-clinical hypothyroidism were depressed. Another found that 15 – 20% of depressed men and women showed some degree of sub-clinical hypothyroidism.

(In case you were wondering, hyperthyroidism is due to an overproduction of thyroid hormones, which can lead to insomnia, daytime fatigue, nervousness, muscle weakness, unexplained weight loss, vision problems, and eye irritation.)

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:

  • Depression
  • Tired, Sluggish, Lethargic, Lack of motivation
  • Trouble getting going in the morning
  • Exhausted even after 8-10 hours of sleep
  • Poor concentration and memory, Mental sluggishness
  • Can not lose weight even with exercise
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands
  • Require excessive amounts of sleep to function properly
  • Increase in weight gain even with low-calorie diet
  • Gain weight easily
  • Morning head that wear off as the day progresses
  • Outer third of the eyebrow thins
  • Thinning of the hair on scalp, face or genitals or excessive falling hair
  • Dryness of skin and / or scalp
  • Mental sluggishness
  • Nervous and emotional
  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Constipation, Difficult, infrequent bowel movements
  • Muscle and Joint Pains, Carpal Tunnel / Tendonitis Problems
  • Neck Discomfort / Enlargement
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Menstrual Irregularities (excessive bleeding, severe cramping, irregular cycle, severe PMS)
  • Fertility Problems
  • Chubby or overweight since childhood

For women the most common triggers are the start of menstruation, menopause, or pregnancy. Dieting can also indicate a thyroid problem. When you reduce your calories your body will automatically slow down your thyroid, which is a good move on your body's part, but over time, with frequent “yo-yo” dieting or skipped meals, your thyroid may forget to turn back on again.

Checking Your Thyroid At Home – If you suspect there is a problem with your thyroid try this home test before going to your doctor and getting blood work done. You will need to check your underarm, or basal, temperature first thing in the morning before you start moving around and raising your body temperature for 3 days. Your body temperature should hover around 98.6 degrees when taken orally but will be lower under the arm, between 98.4 and 97.8 degrees. If it's below 97.8 degrees for 3 days then you may have thyroid problems.


You will need to use a non-digital thermometer (digital is not as accurate under the arm).

  1. As soon as you wake up turn on bright lights, stay in bed, and keep your eyes open for 30 minutes (going to the bathroom is fine as is reading.)
  2. After 30 minutes place the thermometer under your armpit. Leave it there for 10 minutes. Stay quite in bed with your eyes open.
  3. Do this for at least 3 mornings to get your average temperature. You do not have to do the 3 mornings all in a row if you do not want to.

For Women: If you are a menstruating your basal temperature is most accurate days 1 through 4 of your period. Do not take your temperature around your ovulation or mid-cycle which causes your temperature to rise.

If you are male or a woman in menopause then any morning is fine. Hot flashes should not affect basal temperature.

If the temperature under your arm is less than 97.8 degrees for the 3 days that you check it then that's a good sign that you have a thyroid issue and you should seek out a thyroid specialist. After blood, urine, and saliva testing the doctor will recommend a course of action.

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Do Low Levels of Serotonin Cause Depression?

The conventional wisdom is that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin, the neurotransmitter in your brain that is responsible for memory, sleep, appetite, learning, and the regulation of your feelings including happiness and welling being. Therefore, if you have a chemical imbalance in the brain antidepressants, like Prozac or Zoloft, can alter your brain chemistry and fix the imbalance, as well as, strengthen the profits of the big pharmaceutical companies. Strange then that scientific research can not find any reliable flaws in the serotonin system of the depressed. (1) You see, even if antidepressant medications do increase serotonin levels in the brain and help some feel better, this does not mean that low levels of serotonin cause depression. Aspirin can cure a headache but that does not mean that low levels of aspirin in the brain cause your head to hurt.

The brain cells that deal in serotonin (called serotonergic neurons) have “arms” that reach out to all areas of the brain. The extensive connections and super pathways of serotonergic neurons complicate the single largest system in the brain. To transmit a message the sending neuron releases the chemical serotonin to be absorbed by the receiving neuron. However, more serotonin is released than is needed so the excess is either “vacuumed” back up into the sending neuron or metabolized by an enzyme and removed as waste. The enzyme metabolizes serotonin into 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid or 5-HIAA. Researchers can look at spinal fluid for 5-HIAA and gauge the level of serotonin in the brain. So if low-levels of serotonin cause depression, then all people suffering from depression will have low-levels of 5-HIAA in their spinal fluid. (2) Seems simple enough.

But there are two studies I'd like to bring to your attention that seem to debunk the chemical imbalance theory of depression. In one, researchers in Stockholm looked at the 5-HIAA levels in the spinal fluid of 68 depressed patients as assessed in nanograms per milliliter. 29% had low level counts below 15 nanograms, which would seem logical in depressed patients, but 47% had regular counts between 15 and 25 nanograms, and 24% of the depressed patients had HIGH LEVELS above 25 nanograms. What is interesting is that the control group of volunteers who were not depressed had almost the same exact bell curve of 5-HIAA levels. 25% of the control group had low counts below 15 nanograms, 50% had counts between 15 and 25 nanograms, and 25% of the non-depressed patients had high levels above 25 nanograms. (3)

To summarize this amazing research: 29% of the depressed patients had low levels of serotonin but so did 25% of the non-depressed “normal” control group patients. Plus 25% of the depressed patients had high-levels of serotonin. All in all, the median level of 5-HIAA in the spinal fluid of the non-depressed “normal” group was 20 nanograms but the research showed that 37 of the 68 depressed patients, more than half, had levels ABOVE that “normal, non-depressed “average. Kinda blows a hole into the low-serotonin causes depression theory. Oh, and this study was done in 1974, 14 years before Prozac, the first in a line of antidepressants that flood your brain with serotonin to “cure” depression.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1984, four years before Prozac, conducted the other study I wanted to mention. They were investigating the efficacy rates of a proposed antidepressant drug named Amitriptyline that, like Prozac, pretended neurons from vacuuming back up the excess serotonin, thus flooding the brain with extra serotonin. They also looked at depressed patients 5-HIAA levels and, surprise, surprise, found a wide variety, from low to high. The NIMH scientists concluded that, “Elevations or decrements in the functioning of serotonergic systems per se are not likely to be associated with depression.” (4) To say that in plain talk, there is no evidence that there is anything wrong with the serotonin brain system of depressed patients. There seems to be a huge disconnect between those pretty antidepressant commercials and the actual scientific research. (5)

Low Serotonin Level Problem 1 – If low levels serotonin was a major player in causing depression, then increasing serotonin should alleviate depression right away. Antidepressants raise serotonin levels within hours but it can take weeks for a depressed person to show signs of improvement. Also, after a few months, some people relapse into depression, even while still on antidepressants.

Low Serotonin Level Problem 2 – If low levels of serotonin cause depression, then all people with low levels of serotonin should be depressed, but this is not the case. Also, there are people who suffer from depression who have regular levels of serotonin in their brain and depressed people with high levels of serotonin.

Low Serotonin Level Problem 3 – There are drugs that do not work on the serotonin system in the brain yet also appear to relieve the symptoms of depression. Welbutrin is a very popular antidepressant but works on the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.

Studies indicate that serotonin seems to somehow play a role in depression but the question remains, does the lower levels of serotonin cause depression, or does a particular person's depression create those lower levels of serotonin?


1. Moncrieff, J., (2009). The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment . Palgrave Macmillan; Revised edition, 2009.

2. Whitaker, R. (2010). Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America . Crown Publishing.

3. Asbert, M. (1976). Serotonin depression: A biochemical subgroup with the affective disorders? Science, 191, 478-80; Asberg, M., (1976). 5-HIAA in the cerebrospinal fluid. Archives of General Psychiatry 33, 1193-97.

4. Maas, J. (1984). Pretreatment neurotransmitter metabolite levels and response to tricyclic antidepressant drugs. American Journal of Psychiatry 141, 1159-71.

5. Lacasse, J., Leo, J. (2005) Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature. PLoS Med 2 (12): e392. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pmed.0020392

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What Depression Is And What It Is Not

Inevitably you will experience disappointments and loss in your life. That's part of the fine print on the contract you signed when you joined the human race. But like a wave, emotions come and go. You will at some point in your life experience down days and hurt. What causes the imbalance in your life is when the emotions you feel stop moving like a wave and becomes a point stuck in time, keeping you in a constant state of low energy, negative feelings and despair. Here are some ways to find out if the emotional valley you're in is actually depression.

Sadness, Heartache & Despair

You will encounter setbacks and possibly failure in your life. Sadness, heartache, and despair are normal emotions to feel when reacting to bad news. These are realistic and valid ways to feel when life hands you a tragedy. However what keeps these emotions from being depression is that they are transient, and with time (a few hours, a few days, or even a week or two) you will return to your normal emotional set point.

These “negative” feelings are part of the body's natural emotional wave and should be expected when the circumstances are appropriate. These feelings are not fun but they do not interfere with the flow of your life or your self-esteem and are a healthy way of experiencing difficult times. Like an inconvenient rain that only lasts a short while then blows away, these emotions do not keep you from living your life.

The Grieving Process

Grief is also a very normal emotion but can be devastating. Losing a loved one or experiencing a significant loss hurts. There is no way around it. There is no “usual” time period for the grieving process. Grief can last months and in extreme cases years, particularly if the loss has been traumatic and unexpected. Mending a broken heart takes time.

Normally, the loss you are causing does not affect your self-esteem and this is why grief is also not depression. But say that the trial experienced is a divorce or job loss, or something else that might have been tied to your self-worth, then depression could rise. Finding that your partner does not want you anymore or that the job you loved is now gone can affect your self-esteem.

Studies have shown that 25% of people experiencing reasonable grief will develop depression.1 Depression, and the feelings of hopelessness and anxiety, may actually interfere with the ability to grieve. When dealing with this double curse the depression will need to be resolved first in order to get to a point where the grieving process can flow and eventually resolve.


You can distinguish depression from sadness and grief by the intensity, endurance, and persistence of the hurt and sadness. Despair and unhappiness has become your set point. There is often long-term, unresolved anger and emotional trauma, as well as, the feelings of hopelessness and loss of self-esteem that come along for the ride. Plus, there is the ever-present tense of the depressed to blame themselves for feeling that way.

Depression interferes with daily life in a major way. Concentration, eating, sex, and sleeping might be affected. It also may bring with it intense rage, extremely negative thoughts, persistent worry, restlessness, feelings of being overwhelmed, fatigue and low energy, chronic pain, headaches, or stomach aches. There is also a general boredom in all aspects of life and withdrawal from friends and family. The major problem is that these sounds “normal” so there is a tension to do nothing about it.

Symptoms of Depression

From the National Institute of Mental Health

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and / or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and / or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and reduced energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not even cure even


The elephant on the table of depression is suicide. 30% of clinically depressed people will attempt suicide. 15% will succeed.2 If you have suicidal thoughts or you know someone who seems suicidal you need to take them very seriously.

Suicidal Warning Signs

From the US Dept. of Health and Human Services

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill itself
  • Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means
  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped – like there's no way out
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
  • Feeling angry, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Experiencing dramatic mood changes
  • Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

If You Are In Crisis:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call toll-free



** Open 24 Hours A Day, Everyday

This service is available to anyone.

You may call for yourself or for someone you care about.

All calls are confidential.


Hope Community Crisis Centers



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Low Vitamin D and Depression

Three of every four Americans have either shortcomings or borderline vitamin D deficiencies. Yet, Dr. John J. Cannell, MD, head of the nonprofit Vitamin D Council contends that the situation is far worse, “95% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, that's how big the problem is. . “(1)

This vitamin is a suspect in Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD) as skin cells create D from reacting to the sun. If your low energy, depression, and insomnia are related to seasonal sunlight changes then you may need to boost your intake of vitamin D.

A 2010 national study found that the likelihood of having depression is higher in people with deficiency in vitamin D compared to people who are deficient in vitamin D. In another study, researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to improve as their levels of vitamin D in the body increased over the normal course of a year. (2) And vitamin D deficiencies may be a suspect in all sorts of illness. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that nearly 60% of patients in the hospital for various conditions had low levels of D in their blood, and almost 25% were severely deficient.

A simple blood test can determine if you're deficient. Have your doctor check your levels by doing a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.

There are two forms of Vitamin D: D2 (ergocalciferol), which is found in plants, and D3 (cholecalciferol), which the body makes from exposure to the sun and is substantially more potent. 20 to 30 minutes of full body exposure to natural sunlight will produce about 20,000 IU * of vitamin D in the blood stream in about 48 hours, depending on age, skin color, and sun exposure.

Healthy people use about 3,000-5,000 IU of Vitamin D a day so we can clearly get enough Vitamin D from the sun. However, the average person makes only 1,000 IU of Vitamin D as we spend most of our time indoors and slather on the sunscreen and put on sunglasses when we are outdoors.

Vitamin D2, known as vegetarian Vitamin D, is around 70% less effective than D3. You can find D3 in egg yolk, meat, sunflower seeds, and oily fish such as cod, tuna, and halibut, but you could never eat enough to keep up with your bodies needs. (By the way, Vitamin D fortified milk only has about 100 IU per 8-ounce glass.) If you can not get enough natural sunlight then taking a Vitamin D supplement may be your best option.

Suggested Daily Dose – There has been much confusion and misinformation on how much vitamin D one should take. The Endocrine Society, world's oldest and largest organization devoted to research on hormones, released what is being considered the gold standard of vitamin D recommendations: 400 to 1,000 IU for infants less than 1-year-old, 600 to 1,000 IU for older children and teens, and 1,500 to 2,000 IU for adults. (4)

If it's winter time, November through March, and you live north of the 33-degree latitude line, then you may need more – that's basically north of Los Angeles, CA; Dallas, TX; Atlanta, GA; Casablanca, Morocco; Sicily, Italy; Athens, Greece; and Kagoshima, Japan.

Vitamin D deficiencies can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, asthma, Alzheimer's disease, and even the common cold and influenza. Also, larger doses of Vitamin D appear to help allergies, back pain, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes multiple sclerosis, and vaginal infections.

* IU = International Unit. Where as a gram or ounce is a measurement of weight, IU is a measure of potency. For example, 1000 IU of Vitamin C has a different weight than 1000 IU of Vitamin D.


1. Challem, J. (2011). The Vitamin D Debate. Experience Life . December 2011.

2. Depression and Diet [WWW page]. WedMD . URL

3. Holick, M. (2007). Vitamin D Deficiency. N Engl J Med , 357: 266-281.

4. Chase, C. (2011). New Clinical Practice Guideline Recommends Dietary Intakes of Vitamin D for Children and Adults at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency [WWW page]. The Endocrine Society . URL

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What It Takes for a Treatment Plan for Depression To Be a Success

Worrying does not solve anything, but for some reason it does not stop us from doing it. The cost of worrying yourself constantly can be too high to pay, especially when you're battling anxiety depression. From a Christian perspective worrying is an insult to God, he expect us to have faith.

The causes of depression are not always something you have control over, research has shown many attributing factors that lead to depression and anxiety. Traumatic events or preexisting medical conditions can also provoke the signs and symptoms of depression. Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, this mental health disorder can have a devastating impact without developing an effective treatment plan for depression. Rather you choose to use depression treatment centers are natural alternative depression treatment is entirely up to you.

A depression treatment plan should be designed based on specific needs of an individual, because each patient has different needs. While in some cases major depression treatment will likely include prescription medication self-help and alternative depression treatment is still going to be needed. Depression is like cancer, without effective treatment it will continue to spread and affect other parts of your body.

My personal recommendation for self-help books about depression can be found online. A couple of years ago I had a real wake-up call in regards to depression. I used to think depression was just a feeling and for people who knew how to control their emotions, depression would not be a problem. However I've learned different, this is an illness that will not go away on its own, and getting help will be vital to living a healthy and productive life.

My treatment plan for depression was put together by myself, my primary physician, and therapist. But at the end of every day I was the one held responsible for the success of my treatment plan. If getting help for my depression was something I did not want to do, it would not have been done. Self awareness is a big part of this battle and although things will not always be clear, the desire to get clarity in your life is a must.

On my journey the thing I found most important was the self-help coping techniques used when my Doctor or therapist was not with me, which was over 90% of my daily life. Empowering myself with knowledge about my illness made all of the difference in my treatment plan for depression becoming a success. It is not going to all happen overnight but with due diligence and a tenacious spirit to make your treatment plan for depression work, you can and will beat the battle against depression.

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Effective Alternative Depression Treatment Techniques

If you or someone you care about is battling with depression, I'm sure you know by now this is a process that can take a lot of time. Over 20 million Americans suffer from depression and are currently receiving treatment for depression, and in most cases antidepressant medication is not enough. In order for treatment to be successful alternative depression treatment needs to be included. In this article I will include alternative depression treatment techniques that have been helpful to others.

Clear your mind, it is impossible to focus with a cluttered mind. This is also the time you should get rid of all negative thoughts, a good time to practice is coping technique is right before you go to bed at night and every morning at the start of your day. While some of us have a more active imagination that others, we all have the ability to use some level of imagination. Imagination will be needed for this technique, this will be like draining your mind.

Fill your mind with thoughts that are positive and powerful, uplift yourself without such faith and success. Your mom plays a big role in the treatment for this mental health disorder. You should identify things you thought about in a negative way before, and transform those thoughts into positive thoughts.

It is important to engage in interactions with others that have positive energy flowing, so avoid joining in on any conversation that is focused on a negative perspective about things. If there is the situation you have to be a part of, strive to be the one that continues to speak positively. Take each conversation opportunity to exercise your faith and encouraging nature.

The company you keep will play a major role in remaining positive. It is difficult to remain positive if you are surrounded by people with pessimistic attitudes. This is a fact that many people do not realize, because it's not easy to cut off friends and loved ones that you care about. However you have to do what is best for your health, and every chance you get sure to share these coping mechanisms with others you think we use them as well.

Anyone who has ever achieved believed in something, faith and meditation is what will keep you grounded. Physical activity and a healthy diet will make you feel better and improve your physical appearance. These techniques are all a part of alternative depression treatment and should be implemented over time as support for your original treatment plan for depression.

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Why Are You Depressed?

Statistics claim that as many as forty percent of Canadians will experience depression at some time in their life. This would likely be very hard to measure and might not actually account for the different types of depression that individuals can experience.

For example, some depression is temporary and can pass with time. You might be depressed about an examination you wrote only to find that you actually got a good mark which then greatly lifts your mood.

Grief can bring different reactions from different people. One person may be devastated by the loss of a pet while another person views this as something that would have been expected for an animal with a shorter life span than humans.

Many people have stated that it was much easier to lose a loved relative who had lived into his / her nineties than a young child who had their whole life ahead of them.

Chemical depression, however, is not something that one “gets over” quickly and can, in fact, take a toll not only on the individual who suffers from it but also the family and friends who feel helpless and do not know what to do to improve the situation.

Some theorists believe that anger turned inward becomes depression.

A while ago, I had been struggling in my attempts to figure out exactly what was slowing progress with a client. After about the third session, I asked “Is there anything that you are angry about that might be a factor in your depression?”

The client immediately began telling me about a situation that had been festering in her mind for several years. She was so angry about how her husband's employer had required him to be on a project while she was pregnant, on her own and without subsidies. While he was absent because of the employment demands, she felt full responsibility for their small child. She felt that no one understood how abandoned and helpless she was at that time.

Because the client had not shared these resentments with anyone other than her partner who could really do nothing about this after it occurred, the client allowed the anger to fester into a depression.

I will never forget how relieved I felt to have gained some understanding that day. And the client, before leaving my office, indicated that telling me had also bought her some relief also.

There are many different theories about depression but, in this case, it certainly was anger turned inward that was the cause of illness. Because the client was used to being “nice” and not asking others to help meet her needs, she had become so extremely vulnerable. She tried to bottle up the anger but ended up becoming depressed.

Are you angry with someone or something that is causing or fueling depression in you? Would you find it helpful to talk with someone about the situation?

Clinical psychologists are trained and experienced in helping individuals with mental health problems.

The first step to dealing with your depression is to book an appointment with someone who can help.

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Major Depression Treatment – Empowering Yourself Through Communication

Have you ever heard the saying “conversation rules a nation?” I find this statement to be true, most people do not realize the true power in effective communication. Becoming a better communicator can be a great part in your major depression treatment.

Learning is key to self-development, it's natural to be nervous about getting out of your comfort zone. However to achieve success you've never achieved before, you must be willing to do something you've never done. Major depression treatment often involves anxiety treatment as well, facing these fears and will allow you to become an effective communicator.

Listening is an important part of communicating, a conversation could not take place without it. Asking questions is a good practice it gives you an opportunity to establish clarity about the things you have trouble understanding. Learning is impossible without listening and comprehending the information that is being relayed. Do not make the mistake of only listening and not engaging in conversation. Listening is a skill that is more rare than you would expect, some people confuse listening with listening but they are not the same thing.

Be humble, one thing I learned while getting major depression treatment is that I have to forgive. It is not realistic to hold people to standards that are not achievable, we are all human and we all make mistakes. How can I expect someone to forgive me for my mistakes, if I am not willing to forgive others? It is also important to practice humility when speaking to others, confidence is a great attribute but arrogance is its ugly first cousin.

Credibility is established by your actions, words, and sub-conscious behaviors you are unaware of such as eye contact. Making eye contact or failing to make eye contact has different meanings around the world, but in America eye contact something we look for when we communicate with others. This is an effective form of communicating as some individuals have a very difficult time with it. The reason this communication practice is important to major depression treatment, is because many of these individuals have low self-esteem or lack of confidence. Succeeding in this can definitely improve your confidence when communicating with others.

Sense of humor, is one of the most noticeable personality traits. A laugh can always lighten the mood or set the stage for a tension free environment. An important thing to be mindful of is the kind of humor you choose to use, make sure that it is appropriate for the setting and will not be offensive to others.

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Manic Depressive Treatment Options

In today's modern world, a patient that has been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder has many more manic depressive treatment options than similar patients of years gone by. Fortunately enough, today's treatments are easier on the patient and produce better outcomes than their historical counterparts.

Treatments include both medications and cognitive therapy which work in conjunction with each other. As such, relief happens faster than if either modality was to be used alone. Patients are thought to rethink their way of thinking which prior to the initiation of therapy, was flawed. These remedies are much more comprehensive and effective than the self-help treatments of years gone by.

We also see the use of more modern medicines being used by manic depressive patients that are better tolerated by the body. The two most beneficial features are longer lasting medicines which decrees the daily pill burden for the patient and medications with fewer side effects. Side effects of past medicines were sometimes debilitating to the point of not improving the patient's quality of life. That's not to say that we do not see any unwanted side effects. They are just less taxing on the human element to the point that patients can now lead full and productive lives.

Medication therapy is usually a mixture of a few effective modern drugs. These medications are also known as mood stabilizers without the patient tends to have one phase of the bipolar state more than any other. In such a case, the medicine will be more targeted to the specific symptoms of the manic depressive patient.

Manic depressive treatment options also include psychotherapy which helps to control the depressive states. Very often, these patients have suicidal thoughts. Being able to control this aspect with psychotherapy goes a long way to producing positive outcomes. Of course if this does not work, psychiatric hospitalization is critical as these patients can be a danger to both themselves and the people around them. Until they can get their emotions under control, they may have to be monitored in a healthcare facility.

On a lighter note, very often the simple act of joining a support group is all that is needed for some manic depressive treatments. These like-minded organizations bring patients together who learn to trust one another. They also learn about living a healthy life style which includes a daily regimen of exercise and good eating habits.

Early detection relapse therapy is also a useful tool in combating this illness. Here, the therapist will basically teach several specific symptoms for the patient to take into consideration. These symptoms bought to signal a possibility of a relapse. By recognizing some of these symptoms early, it leads the way for faster medical intervention. In the end, the manic depressive patient can now enjoy a fuller, more active, socially acceptable lifestyle.

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