Depression affects a person’s emotions, thoughts, social behaviour, and bodily reactions. Some common symptoms include :-
- deep sadness/unhappiness -irritability/agitation
- worthlessness/low self esteem -negative perceptions
- suicidal thoughts -loss of energy & motivation
- lack of focus/ concentration -lincreased/decreased appetite
- social withdrawal
- difficulty sleeping/too much sleep
Appropriate treatment of depression depends on each person’s individual experience, however, the treatment of choice is traditionally a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. Psychotherapy entails working with a psychologist in a counselling relationship. Therapy is generally aimed at dealing with underlying negative thoughts/thought patterns, building self esteem, helping to establish interpersonal relationships/social interaction, and aiding in the development of life skills.
Where necessary, prescription and management of antidepressant medication is best carried out by a psychiatrist. Serotonin is known as the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter (brain chemical) in the body. Most antidepressant medications aim to stop the re-uptake of serotonin so that it remains high in the blood and so contributing to our sense of well being.
With mild to moderate depression, medication may not be necessary and diet/ good nutrition can be extremely useful in reducing symptoms. Eliminate smoking and alcohol completely. Cutting out/reducing all stimulants( eg. sugar, caffeine, chocolate), preservatives, additives may also be helpful. Serotonin can be also be boosted naturally through certain amino acids and vitamins(tryptophan, folic acid, vitamins C and B6) foods that are high in these substances can be useful in your diet. There are also natural supplements available to boost diet such as 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort. Although these are natural products, they may still present with some side effects and therefore need to be taken in consultation with a professional (doctor/homeopath/nutritionist).
Exercise is also extremely helpful in improving depression as it also increases endorphins in the body. It is difficult for a depressed person who lacks motivation and energy to exercise, however it may be useful to start with small exercise goals and expand them over time. Also getting an exercise partner may assist with aiding your level of motivation as well as providing encouragement and support.
Although it is common for individuals who suffer from depression to lose interest in social activities, social connections are vital for our well being and there are numerous emotional and physiological benefits to spending quality time with people that matter to you in your world. Try to set small periods of time to connect with others through activities that require as little energy physically but might still result in a good deal of emotional reward for your mood.
Contact me for assistance with depression counselling and therapy www.solutionsforlife.co.za