Depression is considered to be widespread these days. Some of this may be due to our high-stress, “hurry-up” world — more now than ever before. There seems to be precious little time for anyone to enjoy the little pleasures of life anymore. Not only that, but the most common struggle among my clients seems to be making the time to eat right, exercise, sleep and play, etc. — in other words to live a balanced and joyful lifestyle.
Certainly, if you are worried health-wise it is never a bad idea to go for a thorough work-up with your physician (holistic or alternative doctor of chiropractic (D.C.), medical doctor (M.D., Doctor of Oriental Medicine (D.O.M.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.). There are a variety of physiological reasons you may be experiencing depression which are important to rule out.
That being said, let’s look at the criteria used by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose depression. Ask yourself if you suffer from the following.
1. Poor appetite with weigtht loss or increased appetite with weight gain.
2. Insomnia or sleeping too much (hypersomnia).
3. Agitated or retarded motor action.
4. Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities or decrease in sex drive.
5. Loss of energy, feelings of fatigue.
6. Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or inappropriate guilt.
7. Diminished ability to concentrate.
8. Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
-Having five of these symptoms for a month or more indicates depression.
-Having four of them points toward the probability that there is depression.
While it’s normal to have occasional and short-lived sadness at stressful periods of life, when experiencing loss, during hormonal changes, etc., the real concern begins when there seems to be no real cause.
What are other possible causes of depression or blues? While not all possible organic causes of depression can be covered here, there are two important ones that are sometimes overlooked:
a. Thyroid problems. A person with thyroid disease can suffer from sadness, fatigue, apathy, etc. Though the thyroid is an extremely important endocrine gland, thyroid testing is not routine in patients complaining of depression. The blood test doctors perform for thyroid problem screeing is (TSH) thyroid-stimulating hormone levels. The thyroid is involved in balancing many body functions, including the reproductive glands. It is extremely important to well-being.
b. Food and nutritional deficiencies. The American public is, for the most part, “addicted” to synthetic, sugar-laden and/or processed foods (the typical American diet). Food-related, physiological imbalances (such as food allergies, food sensitivities, blood sugar balancing problems, candida systemic yeast infection, parasitic infection) may contribute to, or even be at the root of feelings of depression. Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., in her book, Food & Mood states that there are two ways food regulates your feelings — your mood: first, that people use certain foods to make themselves feel better when they’re blue (i.e., chocolate and PMS); second, that elimination of certain foods and poor eating habits (i.e., sugar, caffeine, skipping meals) improves mood.
c. Yet another often undiagnosed condition, Candida Systemic Yeast Syndrome, can be a debilitating challenge for many people. Born from high stress, heavy antibiotic doses and high simple carbohydrate diets, the mechanism of systemic yeast sydrome is complex. It can be diagnosed by lab tests and it is the toxins secreted by the yeast that can affect mood, create a “fuzzy headed” feeling, increase sweet cravings and a variety of other symptoms. For more information please download free my article called “Crave Sweets” at my website: http://www.TheICanDoctor.com
Clearly, depression can be a serious mental condition that should never be taken lightly. While there may be mental and emotional causes, the physiological factors mentioned can make it harder for people to deal with their issues. Blood sugar swings especially, can interfere with clear thinking, cause irritability and extreme fatigue. The following books may be of help: Food & Mood (quoted in this article); Sugar Blues by W. Dufty; Feeling Good, and The Feeling Good Handbook, by Dr. David Burns; The Yeast Syndrome, by Dr. William Crook