Causes, Symptoms & Treatments For Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that consists of constant feelings of sadness, worthlessness and anxiety that last more than 2 weeks. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 17.3 million adults in the U.S. reported having at least one depressive episode per year. Female adults reportedly experience more depressive episodes than male adults, and 3.2 million adolescents also reported having at least one episode per year.

The symptoms of depression come in a variety of forms and this changes in each individual, but it generally lasts more than 2 weeks. Symptoms of depression include:

Feeling of hopelessness

Feeling of worthlessness

Persistent sadness

Persistent anxiety

Loss of energy

Loss of interest in usual activities

Lack of focus and concentration

Changes in sleep

Changes in appetite

Suicidal thoughts

Causes Of Depression

There is no one cause of depression, but there can be several factors that trigger the symptoms:

Trauma and life circumstances. If you have experienced any trauma in life, it can change how your brain adapts to stressful situations. Your brain may be stuck in “flight or fight” mode, or you may overly worry about things that may or may not happen, which causes anxiety and depression. If you have experienced harsh life circumstances, like divorce, death, or loss, that can also trigger depressive episodes.

Substance abuse. History of drug or alcohol abuse can trigger depression, with 21% of those who had substance problems also experiencing depression. Drugs or alcohol can make the symptoms of depression worse, as well.

Brain chemistry and genetics. Depression is associated with how our pituitary gland and hypothalamus change the hormones in our body. Our genetics also plays a role, and a family history of depression may mean you are at an increased risk of developing depression, too.

Medical Issues. If you suffer from chronic pain, other mental illnesses, sleep issues, or even attention-deficit disorder, you are more likely to develop depression.

Treatments For Depression

There is no one cause of depression, but there can be several factors that trigger the symptoms:

Medications. Antidepressants are the most common treatment for depression. There are many types of antidepressant medications that help increase the level of serotonin produced in by your brain. Consult with your doctor to find the best medication for you.

Medical cannabis. CBD is now widely popular for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression. You can get it in many forms, including oils or edible candies.

Brain stimulation therapy. There are various types of therapy that involve transmitting electric impulses to the brain to help with depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A type of talk therapy that changes negative thinking by changing negative thoughts. A good counselor can help transform your negative thinking into something more constructive.

Lifestyle changes. Changing how you go about your daily life can have significant impact on how you feel. Finding activities that make you happy or fulfilled, creating a strong social support system and network, and getting enough sleep are just some basic lifestyle changes that are easy to implement. Eating a clean diet devoid of processed foods and sugar can also change your mood for the better, as certain foods cause inflammation in the gut and brain. Some studies even suggest that a healthy diet is a more effective depression treatment than an antidepressant medication!

Ketamine infusions: Ketamine was once used as an anesthetic on the battlefield and in operating rooms, but is now being used as an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. Ketamine infusions work on the glutamate system and essentially repair damaged neural connections in the brain. Patients may experience relief after as few as 1-2 infusions. It is a good alternative for those who have not had success in other types of treatments.