Common Symptoms of Clinical Depression | 12 Nondrug Remedies for Depression
Depression, if not taken care of, could lead to suicide, mental disorder, low esteem, and other unpalatable health disaster.
In this article, we’re combining three most informative depression write ups put together by authorities in the field.
Medical meaning of depression by psychiatry.org
Warning Signs You May Be Depressed by verywell.com
12 Nondrug Remedies for Depression by health.com
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Warning Signs You May Be Depressed
This second part, Warning Signs You May Be Depressed, is written by Nancy Schimelpfening
While only a qualified medical or psychological health provider can diagnose depression, there are certain warning signs that can help you identify whether you or someone you care about is suffering from the disorder.
In addition to the following symptoms, other factors that doctors will look at in diagnosing a person with major depressive disorder include whether the symptoms have lingered for at least two weeks, whether they have caused the person significant impairment in his or her life, and whether the symptoms might be better explained in some other way, such as substance abuse, medication side effects, a medical illness or another mental disorder.
In order to accomplish this, a doctor might ask you questions about your medical history, observe your appearance and behavior, and/or run certain laboratory tests. Work together to determine a diagnosis and find the best solution for lifting your spirits.
- Low Mood
A person with a depressed mood may report feeling “sad” or “empty,” or may cry frequently. Having a low mood is one of the two core symptoms which is used to diagnose depression.
- Decreased Interest or Pleasure
The second core symptom of depression is a decreased interest or pleasure in things that were once enjoyed. A person exhibiting this symptom will show markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, daily activities.
- Significant Weight Change
Significant changes in weight (a gain or loss of 5 percent or more in a month) while not attempting to gain or lose may be indicative of depression.
Sleep disturbances including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, feeling sleepy despite a full night’s rest, or daytime sleepiness can indicate depression.
- Psychomotor Agitation or Retardation
Depression can be the cause of agitation, restlessness, or lethargy that affects a person’s daily routine, behavior or appearance. These symptoms can be evident in body movements, speech, and reaction time. Some describe the diminished ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions as “brain fog.”
Deep fatigue or a loss of energy is a symptom of depression that can cause patients to struggle functioning as they previously did. This can manifest itself as feeling sleepy or having difficulty concentrating, as well as a lowered threshold for physical exertion.
- Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt
A depressed person may feel inappropriately guilty about things they have no control over. This feeling results from a sense of having betrayed one’s values, but in depressed patients is often distorted as a result of faulty thinking. Feelings of guilt can lead to shame and even self-harm.
- Thoughts of Death
A depressed person may have frequent thoughts of death and suicide, although they may or may not have an actual plan for carrying it out.
12 Nondrug Remedies for Depression
Lifting depression without an Rx
Depression affects nearly 16 million Americans annually, and a large portion of those people take antidepressant drugs.
Depression isn’t limited to the Americans; it’s a Global phenomenon, that’s why these remedies could applicable to anyone who feels depressed.
While antidepressants have been shown to help those with moderate to severe depression, they are usually less effective for those with mild depression.
If you don’t respond to antidepressants (or even if you do), you may want to explore nondrug remedies to lift your depression
Exercise can relieve depression, possibly by altering the mood-regulating brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin.
It may also release the endorphins responsible for the “runner’s high” that some experience.
P. Murali Doraiswamy, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C., recommends exercising three to five times a week for 20 to 30 minutes.
During the short, dark days of winter, some people are prone to a type of depression called seasonal affective disorder.
One way to ease symptoms may be light therapy, in which you sit near a brightly lit box that mimics outdoor light. The therapy generally starts with daily sessions of about 15 minutes and increases to up to two hours daily. The timing depends upon the severity of symptoms and the intensity of the light, which a doctor can determine. Although the therapy doesn’t cure depression, it can ease symptoms, sometimes after only a couple days.
Therapy that teaches people about positive thinking can relieve depression, research suggests.
Dr. Doraiswamy recommends keeping a mood diary. “This is a tool used to train someone to keep track of positive things that are happening in their lives and not let single negative events wear them down,” he says.
A mood diary keeps negative events in perspective and serves as a reminder that good days do happen.
Dr. Doraiswamy recommends not writing in a diary daily if it feels like too much work; once-a-week entries are easier to stick with.
As with many alternative therapies, there isn’t a heap of data that proves acupuncture relieves depression. But a handful of research suggests it might.
One small University of Arizona study of 33 women with depression found that 64% of participants went into remission after acupuncture, compared to 27% in the no-treatment group.
In a second study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, 70 patients with a major depressive disorder who were already taking an antidepressant seemed to show more improvement if they had acupuncture, compared to those who did not.
Support groups used to be standard in psychiatric settings, Dr. Doraiswamy says. But, he adds, they aren’t used as frequently today, although they are an excellent way to help treat mild forms of depression.
These groups provide education on depression, a community of support, and the opportunity to learn from people dealing with similar issues.
As an alternative for those not interested in talking about depression, Dr. Doraiswamy recommends just finding a group that shares your interests, whether it’s a book club or yoga.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Dr. Doraiswamy calls cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) “sophisticated education” for people with depression.
It is based on the fact that thoughts trigger feelings. Being aware of your thoughts and learning to change destructive patterns could alter the way your brain works and your reaction to situations.
CBT is considered short-term therapy, often lasting for 10 to 20 sessions. It has been shown to be as effective as medication in treating mild to moderate depression.
This supplement contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, including salmon, albacore tuna, and herring.
Studies on fish oil are inconclusive, but it is thought that being deficient in this fatty acid at certain times (like during the postpartum period) can cause mood swings and depression.
Promising research suggests that meditation may play a role in preventing depression relapse. The research focused on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which combines traditional meditation with cognitive behavioral approaches.
In two studies, people were treated with antidepressants until their symptoms subsided. Then one group continued taking the medication while another went on a regimen of meditation therapy.
Relapse rates for people using meditation were the same as those taking antidepressants (about 30%), and lower than those on a placebo (about 70%) in one study.
The second study found that 47% of the meditation group relapsed, compared to 60% of the people on antidepressants alone.
The Crocus sativus plant may be good for more than an expensive herb to season Middle Eastern food.
A study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggested that saffron might increase the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. The small study, which looked at 38 people over six weeks, found that saffron was as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in reducing symptoms of depression.
Participants taking saffron also reported fewer side effects, including sweating and sexual dysfunction, than those taking fluoxetine.
Striking a pose may alleviate stress and symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that in both people with emotional distress and major depression, practicing yoga reduces stress, hostility, anxiety, and depression, and improves energy, sleep quality, and well-being.
Although there aren’t too many studies on the topic, yoga may prove to be a simple, low-risk tool for improving depression.
S-adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, is a supplement thought to be involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Several clinical trials have shown it to be as effective as medication in treating depression, and better than placebo. It also has been shown to have fewer side effects than many antidepressants.
St. John’s wort
One of the most studied supplements for depression is St. John’s wort, a yellow-flowered plant used in teas, pills, and extracts.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine analyzed 37 studies and found it may be as beneficial as antidepressants for mild depression (without the side effects of some medications).
One caveat: St. John’s wort can diminish the effectiveness of some prescription medications, including birth control pills, HIV drugs, blood thinners, and some anticancer medications, among others.