Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and others can be obvious for some and quite subtle for others but the commonality among all sufferers is that they may not be getting the help that they need. There can be many underlying factors contributing to the symptoms of mood disorders and often these influences can be missed. Read on to find out more about the not so well-known causes of depression and what can be done to test and treat these factors.
Depression is becoming an increasing struggle for many people. Depression may be short lived due to some situational circumstance or develop into a chronic condition in which a variety of underlying factors are thought to be the cause. In affluent countries, depression is already the leading cause of disease burden for women. Studies have also shown that depression has become the second leading cause of death and disability worldwide by 2020. This is second only to ischemic heart disease and the greatest burden of depression occurs in North America! The Medical Outcome Study, a four-year longitudinal report, corroborates these projections and adds that depression is more debilitating than other chronic medical disorders such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Over the course of a year, 9.5% of the North American population suffer from depression and depression related mood disorders. During a lifetime, one out of every four women and one out of every ten men will develop depression.
The question then must be asked…. why? Let’s take a deeper look at some of the main symptoms and causes of depression to find out why and what can be done!
The official definition of clinical depression according to the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) is based on the following eight primary criteria:
- Poor appetite accompanied by weight loss, or increased appetite accompanied by weight gain
- Insomnia or excessive sleep habits (hypersomnia)
- Physical hyperactivity or inactivity
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities or decrease in sexual drive
- Loss of energy; feelings of fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or inappropriate guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
The presence of 5 of the 8 symptoms indicates clinical depression; an individual with 4 is likely depressed. According to the DSM-IV, the symptoms must be present for at least one month to be called depression. Clinical depression is also referred to as major depression or unipolar depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is manifested both physically and emotionally. The classic physical signs of depression are as follows:
- Fatigue, decreased energy or a feeling of being “slowed down”
- Digestive problems
- Chronic pain
- Hyperactivity, restlessness or irritability
- Sleeping disorders
- Loss of concentration, difficulty remembering or making decisions
- Distorted eating patterns-either the urge to consistently overeat of loss of appetite (a significant change in weight is often evident)
The emotional side of depression can include the following:
- Excessive crying
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Pessimism, hopelessness
- A sense of worthlessness
- Guilt or self-pity
- Loss of self-esteem
- Loss of enjoyment from normally pleasurable activities
- Decrease in sex drive
- Suicidal tendencies
Causes of Depression
Depression can often be due to an underlying organic (chemical) or physiological cause. Identification and elimination of the underlying cause should be the primary therapy. The following lists the organic and physiological causes of depression:
- Food allergies
- Heavy metals
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Environmental toxins (mold)
- Neurotransmitter imbalances
- Pre-existing physical conditions (cancer, chronic inflammation, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, lung disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Prescription medications (antihistamines, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory agents, birth control pills, corticosteroids, tranquilizers and sedatives)
- Sleep disturbances
- Digestive issues
- Chronic stress/low adrenal function
There are many steps that can be taken to determine the causative factors of depression and some specific lab tests can help to determine the imbalances.
- Food Allergy Testing
- Neurotransmitter Testing
- Hormone Testing Including Adrenal and Thyroid function
- Nutrient Deficiency Testing
- Heavy Metal Toxicity Testing
- Organic Acids Testing
- GI MAP Testing
Useful Natural Therapies for Depression
The treatment of depression should encompass the discovery and elimination of the underlying factors that are contributing to depression. There are also several well documented natural treatments to alleviate depression. Some of these remedies include 5-HTP, St. John’s wort, Valerian, Passionflower, L-tyrosine, SAMe, Vitamin B-complex and additional B12, Folic acid, Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D3.
One of my favourite products to support a healthy and balanced mood is Neurapas Balance from Pascoe. Neurapas influences both Gaba and Serotonin neurotransmission.
Neurapas is made with a triple herbal combination of naturally sourced medicinal ingredients (dry extract of):
- Valerian root
- St. John’s wort
Adults, children (>12 years): 2 tablets 2-3 times daily. Children (6-12 years): 1 tablet 1-3 times daily. Tablets should be swallowed whole with a little water. Take consistently for a minimum of 4 weeks for full results.
I favour this combination of 3 of the top herbal extracts because it is gentle and does not have any side effects, hangover symptoms or dependency concerns. When taken for 4 weeks, many of my patients have found a profound difference in their overall well-being and outlook. Neurapas is also a safe alternative for children ages 6 and over.
Give Neurapas a try and let me know how it works for you!