What is depression?

Depression is a serious condition that needs serious consideration. It’s quite clear that suicide rates rise as the economy worsens. Depression, as lonely as it might appear ‘from the inside’ also affects the people around you. Mental and emotional problems exact an extreme toll on family units and in some cases extended circles of friends. Suicide is a common complication of depression, and is one of the primary reasons why it must be taken seriously as it can become a terminal illness.

I now view depression as one potential result of an unhealthy or unbalanced lifestyle, which is expressed through a precise complex of well-defined symptoms (see table below). In some individuals, the effect of this lifestyle imbalance is depression, while others may develop obesity, heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer, or a combination of these and other related ailments.

Diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder:

The patient has depressed mood (e.g. sad or empty feeling) or loss of interest or pleasure most of the time for 2 or more weeks plus 4 or more of the following symptoms:

  • sleep: insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  • interest: markedly diminished interest or pleasure in nearly all activities most of the time
  • guilt: excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt or worthlessness most of the time
  • energy: loss of energy or fatigue most of the time
  • concentration: diminished ability to think or concentrate, indecisiveness most of the time
  • appetite: increase or decrease in appetite
  • psychomotor: observed psychomotor agitation/retardation
  • suicide: recurrent thoughts of death/suicidal ideation

 

 

 

 

 

–  The symptoms do not meet criteria for mixed episode (major depressive episode and manic episode)

 

– The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social occupational or other important areas of functioning

 

– The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (drug abuse, medication) or a general medical condition

 

– The symptoms are not better accounted for by bereavement

How I address depression in my clinic without drugs:

There is no doubt that depression is devastating. Oftentimes you cannot change your circumstances. You can, however, change your response to them.

So, I encourage you to be balanced in your life, and do not ignore your body’s warning signs that something needs to change. Depression is very real. And so is the potential for true healing!