For DepressionFor Depression
What is depression?
It is a disease that affects the mood, the way we think, and our self-esteem.
It produces several symptoms:
- Psychic: appetite changes, anxiety and insomnia, apathy, inability to experience pleasure, excessive guilt, bad mood, etc.
- Physical: Episodes of respiratory, digestive, and/or hormonal alterations, pain, night sweating, fatigue, tiredness, etc.
- Social: A negative event, like losing a loved one, losing a job, suffering a serious medical condition, hormonal changes, or undergoing stress for long periods of time, can be “triggers” for the onset of depression. This can lead to changes in our brain that hinder our ability to adapt to internal or external events, which can produce depressive symptoms.
People with depression experience symptoms like sadness, anxiety, a persistent feeling of emptiness, fatigue, loss of appetite (weight loss), an increase of the appetite (weight gain), or sleeping problems.
Usual form of depression
Each one of us go through periods in which we may feel sad or unhappy. But when the situation lasts for a long time, it may be pointing out to the fact that we are suffering from depression.
Is it exhaustion or depression?
The Burnout syndrome is a severe state of fatigue and quite often to depressive states of mind as well. The use of this term can sometimes be a bit confusing, since there is not a clear definition.
Both depression and the Burnout syndrome share certain psychological symptoms, but each pathology requires a different treatment.
The term Burnout refers to a disease caused by an excessive amount of work. Therefore, it is not associated with the negative image that mental illnesses usually have.
Why does it happen?
It happens without a trigger or as a response to an external even that produces sadness.
- Chemical factors: abnormal release of neurotransmitters or their receptors (serotonin, acetylcholine, and catecholamines, like dopamine, noradrenaline, or adrenaline).
- Hormonal factors: it can happen if the relation between the hypothalamus – hypophysis – suprarrenal glands – cortisol, does not work properly.
- Genetic factors: There are studies performed on adopted patients, identical twins, twins that have been brought up separately, etc. in order to determine how important the genetic factor is.
- Psychosocial factors: loss of a dear person, disease, divorce, or stressful situations.
- Other causes: medical condition (myocardial post-heart attack, cancer, AIDS) and/or addictions (alcohol and drugs).
It can happen without an apparent reason, even though there are several factors involved.
- A 25% of the population suffers depression at least once in their lives.
- There are more than 2 million people who suffer depression in Spain.
- Depression affects women twice times more than men, especially women between 30-35 years of age.
- 50% of the patients that visit a psychiatrist are depressive, and an 80% of them do not receive a proper treatment.
- A 20-30% of depression are not fixed with treatments.
Depression can affect anyone
It is believed that approximately a 5% of the population suffer from depressive states that require treatment. However, the real amount of people affected by depression could be much larger.
In cases of severe depression, the symptoms can be so overwhelming that they can deeply condition the quality of life of those who suffer from this disease, to the point that it can be regarded as a disability. Depression can affect women and men of any age, as well as children and adolescents.
The symptoms of depression can be quite diverse, from the inability to be happy to insomnia, appetite loss, absolute apathy, anxiety crisis, excessive tiredness, or a feeling of emptiness.
The main symptoms are usually very similar between those who are affected, but there are some differences depending on the sex:
Men frequently show anger, aggressive behaviors aimed at themselves, or suicidal tendencies.
While women tend to experience withdrawal and a feeling of anxiety and worry.
Depression: diagnosing the symptoms
The symptoms of depression are varied and not quite specific
Diagnosing depression tends to follow the exclusion principle quite often. It is crucial to rule out other diseases with similar symptoms in order to carry out a reliable diagnosis.
Some diseases that have to be excluded are those that affect the
- Cardiovascular system
- Thyroid disease
- Salivary glands, which affect the hormone balance.
Until fairly recently, the different types of depression were named according to their origin. Thus, if it was produced by metabolic alterations of the brain, it was called endogenous, which refers to its internal origin.
If the depression originates from external factors, it was called neurotic depression, and if the cause was a short-term traumatic experience, it was labelled as a reactive depression.
Moreover, there were special terms, like bipolar disorder, which described the case in which different states of mind were alternated, or special depressions related to age, season changes, or pregnancy.
Nowadays, this previous way of describing depressive disorders with a cause-effect principle is not enough. There are both internal and external factors which are more complex than what we previously thought.
The course of a descriptive diagnosis is an established practice to control the symptoms based on a general scheme and to classify their intensity.
Researchers believe that there is a genetic predisposition to suffer depression.
Neurobiological and sociocultural causes of depression
The serotonin and noradrenalin neurotransmitters perform an important task in the transmission of nerve impulses. Depression alters the metabolism due to the fact that the brain does not produce enough serotonin and norepinephrine.
This produces a strong stimulation of the nerves, sudden mood swings, and other common symptoms.
The human mind is a very complex element that is affected by many external factors. Several psychological theories have established that there are certain basic psychological needs that must be met to have a balanced mood.
Some of these basic needs are a good social environment (partner, family, and friends), safety (protected life, economical stability, a house), and vital objectives (work, career, developed activities).
If we lack one of these basic needs for a long period of time our mind can lose its balance, resulting in depression.
It can be treated with medication or psychotherapy. Both of these treatments are frequently combined. Doctors prescribe anti-depressant medicines to treat hormonal metabolic disorders.
Due to their limited side effects, it is common to prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). The specific problems of each person can be treated through a psychotherapeutic treatment.
There is also a wide range of methods that adapt to each patient, from analytical psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, to role play.
Natural nutrients that can help to fight against depression
More recent studies point to the fact that omega 3 fatty acids also have positive effects to improve the mood.
Each and everyone of us can try to control the external and internal factors that lead to depression, therefore, it is possible to carry out a preventive activity to reduce the possibilities of suffering depression.
It is extremely important for our mental health to avoid stress as much as possible, to separate our work and leisure time, to create important family ties and bonds of friendship, follow a balanced diet, do exercise regularly, and have a healthy sleep cycle.
With these simple guidelines, we will be taking preventing steps to avoid depression.
Alternative therapies against depression
A health treatment that is not classified as a standard practice in western medicine is known as an “alternative” or “complementary” treatment.
An alternative therapy gathers several approaches like the diet and mental conditioning exercises, lifestyle changes, aromatherapy, meditation, or yoga among others.
Aromatherapy is an alternative treatment that uses highly concentrated essential oils that are extracted from plants in order to treat the symptoms and help with the healing process of depression.
Aromatherapy is aimed at rejuvenating the body and mind, while improving our mood to help to encourage a feeling of well-being.
Meditation is usually described as an altered state of conscience.
It is a way of relaxing that, unlike sleep, has a purpose. Meditation is practised regularly for at least 10 minutes per day.
The mind clears while the body is relaxed, focusing on a single thought (sometimes a word, phrase, or scene in particular).
Relaxation is characterized by a lower muscle tension, breathing, and blood pressure
Apart from reducing the heartbeat and drop the blood pressure, this response can also lead to:
- Lower production of sweat
- Less consumption of oxygen
- Reduced production of catecholamines (chemical substances associated with the stress response)
- Lower production of cortisol (stress hormone)
Several studies have proven that practising yoga increases the production of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain neurotransmitters which is related to depression if it is found in low levels.
This is why yoga is one of the most advised alternative therapies for those who suffer depression, anxiety, or stress, since increasing GABA has a positive effect on the mood of the person.
Massages use touch to provide relaxation. Most contact therapies are based the premise that the mind and body are interconnected and that physical health and emotional well-being are closely linked.
This is the main principle behind the different types of massage, including shiatsu, neuromuscular therapy, spinal release therapy. The belief is that when the body is relaxed, the mind is healthier, depression drops and general well-being increases.
It consists on applying pressure on specific points in the hands and feet. The idea is that the body has the ability to heal itself and that the nerves of the hands and teeth are connected to diverse parts of the body.
It is believed that manipulating these nerves stimulates the healing process of depression.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing method. It is used to prevent and cure specific conditions with solid needles in different points of the body.
Some believe that it stimulates the ability of the body to resist or overcome diseases and other disorders and imbalances.
Acupuncture also stimulates the body to produce chemical substances that reduce or eliminate painful sensations.
Acupuncture is more effective for the treatment of headaches, menstrual pain, backache, neck pain or muscle soreness.
Guided imagination is also called visualization. It is a communication method between the body and mind that uses perception (sight, smell, taste, and touch) with the position and movement to produce relaxation.
Guided imagination consists of mental imagines, like a sunset at the beach, a waterfall that flows, or a bright dawn in the mountain.
As you use all your senses in the images, you should really try to:
- Smell the flowers and trees
- Feel the breeze or the temperature
- Listen to all the sounds of nature
- Feel the texture of the surface under the feet
Some people have more imagination than others, but anyone can master this simple relaxation technique.
You can use guided images during the massage or other contact therapy to increase the relaxation and feeling of serenity and peace.
Music therapy has proven to be an effective non-pharmacological method for people of any age that helps to reduce the fear, anxiety, stress, or pain.
Music could be regarded as a natural calming element for the human soul.
In its most simple form, all you need to do is turn on a CD or mp3 player with headphones.
Food and nutrition
Depression can trigger an excessive food consumption for some people or a lack of appetite in others.
Following a healthy diet filled with foods that are rich in nutrients is necessary to balance the emotions and, naturally, to overcome depression.
If you eat a lot of fast food, pizza, sweets, and other unhealthy foods, your body may lack those nutrients that will help you prevent depression naturally.
The best thing to do is to learn a bit about nutrition and talk to a doctor or qualified nutritionist that will be able to advice you according to your situation.
It can help you increase your energy, balance, and flexibility
In general, exercise is a sage, effective, easy, and natural way of helping to relieve stress.
The exercise help to flex and strengthen the muscles and it helps to eliminate the accumulated tension. It also helps to increase the blood flow and the consumption of oxygen.
When you are depressed, it can be specially difficult to find the motivation to do it at the beginning, but regular physical activity can be a powerful way of fighting depression and improve your energy levels in general.
Exercise is also a great of way of keeping your mind away from any situation that may be the trigger of your depression.
A lack of exercise is an important factor for the onset of depression, however, high-intensity exercises do not reduce the depression and only increase the tension, irritation, and fatigue.
There are two hypotheses that suggest a positive relation between physical exercise and psychological well-being:
- Distraction Hypothesis: being distracted from stressful events
- Endorphins Hypothesis: the production of endorphins can reduce the feeling of pain and create a state of euphoria, reducing the emotions linked to stress, like anxiety.
Aerobic exercises (static bike or treadmill) for 30 minutes at least three times a week reduce the symptoms of a depression to a half.
Practising exercise regularly can be as useful as meditation to relieve the symptoms of a serious depression because it acts on the production of hormones and neurotransmitters like noradrenaline, serotonin, endorphins, and neurotrophins.
Griffonia Simplicifolia Seeds to treat depression
Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds come from a strain from Africa and it is used for its medicinal properties. The seed is a natural source of 5-HTP, which is an essential amino acid for the production of serotonin, which helps to relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
This extract can also help to suppress the appetite and the feeling of pain
Uses of the Griffonia Simplicifolia Seed
The Griffonia simplicifolia is native to the western countries in Africa, including the Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Togo.
It has been traditionally used in therapeutic applications, the leaf and juice can be used to treat wounds and nephropathy, as well as an enema and aphrodisiac element, while the smashed bark can be made in to a unguent to treat diseases like chancroid.
Some studies about 5-HTP have proven that it has a great potential to treat depression and, possibly, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disorders and obesity.
Serotonin is naturally found in the body, so its effects are well-documented. Most of the results show that 5-HTP has the same effects as SSRI antidepressants, but without the side effects of prescribed medicines.
Prescribed medicines to treat depression and anxiety are called SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Griffonia Simplicifolia seed and pain relief
Moreover, it is said that these seeds are closely linked to pain relief.
This is one of the many reasons why people choose alternative supplements. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease that involves pain in the whole body and which is very difficult to treat.
Those supplements that contain Griffonia seeds have effectively relieved the pain of fibromyalgia patients, like the prescription of SSRI
Griffonia Simplicifolia has the potential to replace selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the modern world, but the plant is under the risk of becoming extinct since 2010.
According to the ASNAPP, Griffonia has a high economic value, but it is facing extinction due to the unsustainable harvest and post-harvest practices.
Griffonia Simplicifolia is very safe for the consumer and it offers a natural alternative for prescribed medications that many patients try to avoid.