It’s a normal part of being human to feel sadness or grief from time to time, but major depression is something more. Classified as a mood disorder, depression is a very real health condition that can deeply impact your life and the life of those people who care about you. If you have depression, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization estimates that about 300 million people around the world suffer from depression, and they state that it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Many people believe that depression is only about feeling sad, however some people may experience depression without feeling sadness. There are a wide variety of symptoms of depression, and some of them are actually physical in nature. The symptoms of depression may include:
- Feeling sad, anxious, flat, or empty
- A sense of hopelessness or feeling that nothing will turn out right
- A decreased interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Low self-esteem, feeling worthless, guilty, or helpless
- Feeling tired, low energy, or lacking motivation
- Poor concentration, memory issues
- Sleep issues, insomnia, early waking, or oversleeping
- Changes in your appetite, weight loss, weight gain, food cravings
- Feeling impatient, irritable, or restless
- Suicide thoughts, attempts, or thinking about death
While depression is often referred to a single disorder, there are actually a number of different types of depression. Symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with your ability to function is considered major depression. In contrast, persistent depressive disorder is diagnosed if a person struggles with milder symptoms, but for a longer time—two years or more. It’s possible to have persistent depressive disorder interspersed with episodes of major depression.
Other types of depression include:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which occurs during the winter months, often due to the decrease in natural sunlight.
- Postpartum depression may be experienced after labor and delivery, often as a result of hormonal changes, fatigue, and the stress of caring for a new baby.
- Bipolar disorder is a condition in which a person experiences swings between periods of depression and periods of mania.
- Psychotic depression is a combination of severe depression and some type of psychosis. This may include delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, or false and disturbing thoughts.
There is no one single cause of depression, but there are a number of factors that may contribute to developing this condition. Trauma, grief or loss, childhood abuse, a challenging relationship, genetics, and brain biology may all contribute to developing depression. Some health conditions, medications, or a recent surgery can occur in conjunction with depression. This includes a major surgery, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
Anyone at any age can develop depression. Women are more likely to suffer from depression than men, and they also experience depression differently. In general, women tend to experience depression as sadness and feelings of worthlessness, while men tend to become irritable, lose interest or motivation for activities once enjoyed, experience insomnia, or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
Treating Depression at BodaHealth
Standard treatments for depression include medications and talk therapy. At BodaHealth, we believe that natural treatments can also be effective in treating depression, either as a complement to standard treatments or as an alternative. We also believe that depression is more than just a mental health condition—it affects your entire body and every aspect of your life. As such, our treatment strategy for you will involve addressing not only your emotional health, but also your physical health, nutrition, stress, and lifestyle. In working with patients who have depression, the following healing methods may be used:
-Acupuncture increases the circulation of feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. These endorphins help regulate your mood, produce a feeling of calm, and help to relieve stress. During your session, your acupuncture practitioner may include electro-acupuncture in your treatment. This involves attaching tiny clips to the needles that provide a painless current that enhances the effectiveness of the treatment. Research backs the use of electro-acupuncture, as scientists have found that it can be as effective as a common medication, amitriptyline, in treating patients with depression.
–Traditional Chinese Medicine may also be incorporated into your treatment in the form of an herbal formula. Chinese herbs can extend the effects of your acupuncture treatment and have a powerful ability to heal. In Chinese medicine, they are effectively used for mental health conditions. The herbal combination prescribed for you are based on your specific condition, health history, and accompanying symptoms.
–At BodaHealth, we have naturopathic physicians on our staff who are able to perform lab tests and health assessments to rule out physical causes of your depression, such as medication side-effects, a thyroid condition, or a virus. In addition, our naturopaths can assess your nutritional status, digestion, hormone levels, organ function, and exposure to environmental toxins. They may prescribe supplements in the form of herbs, vitamins, and other nutrients to help bring your body back into healthy functioning. Our naturopaths may also act as primary care providers, and when necessary can prescribe medications.
–While it may seem surprising, what you eat may have an impact on your mental health. At BodaHealth, we understand the importance of nutrition. Our acupuncturists, holistic nutritionists and naturopathic physicians offer nutrition therapy as a way to improve your health and decrease your symptoms of depression. More and more research is uncovering the link between a healthy diet and a decreased risk of depression. Scientists believe that proper nutrition can decrease inflammation and promote the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood. Our practitioners will work with you to develop a nutritional plan to promote your physical and emotional health, enhance your energy, and reduce food cravings.
At BodaHealth, we believe that many factors come together to cause depression. As a result, many treatments must also come together to provide an effective solution. Therapeutic treatments, diet, stress relief, and lifestyle modifications are all a part of treating your depression in a safe, natural, and gentle way. If you or someone you care about is struggling with depression, contact us today to find out more about how we can help.