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Depression Hurts: Symptoms and
Effective Ways to Manage Depression

Part 2

Go to Part 1


Depression can be triggered by a traumatic experience, hormonal changes, a serious illness, side effects of certain medications, prolonged isolation, or it can appear to come “out of the blue.”

Many researchers also believe depression can be caused by an imbalance of two chemicals in the brain: serotonin, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are thought to be associated with mood, as well as regulating and reducing feelings of pain in the body.

While chemical imbalances can cause depression, the rapid rise in persons with depression suggests the root cause in the majority of cases might be attributed to something other than chemical. As lifestyles and communities become more “self-involved,” and the emotional and physical needs of others neglected, depression can be the end result. That is because the need for acceptance and a sense of belonging are as basic a human need as food and water.

With proper help and support, depression can be cured. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms can be relieved in 80-percent of persons with serious depression, usually in only a matter of weeks.

There are ways to climb out of the pit of depression. One is through the support and expertise of knowledgeable professionals. A medical doctor or other healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, can make an appropriate diagnosis of depression.

Sometimes an antidepressant medication will be prescribed to help manage depression. Some of these medications help restore the naturally occurring chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. This can help relieve both the emotional and painful physical symptoms of the illness.

If an antidepressant drug is prescribed, ask the doctor about the FDA evaluations and alert on antidepressants.

“Talk Therapy” can be helpful. This might entail spending an hour or so each week talking with a mental health care professional. Discussing the situation with someone knowledgeable about depression can help you better manage depression, and alleviate symptoms.

Each person’s situation is different; talk therapy could be beneficial for several months, or even years. During therapy, it is important to be honest and straightforward about what you are experiencing, and how you are feeling.

Thoughts of and are common in depression, and should not be taken lightly. It is important to take such thoughts seriously, and to discuss them with a health care professional. If you experience thoughts of , call your doctor, therapist, or dial 911.

The National Hotline is another resource. Call toll free, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day: 1-800- (1-800-784-2433j), or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
International hotline numbers can be obtained on the Internet at .

Experts at the Mayo Clinic say mental health can be improved by strengthening relationships. A healthy support system provided by family members and friends can go a long way in helping to alleviate stress and increase self-esteem.

Explain your feelings and what you are going through with family members and close friends. Share facts about depression; that it is a real disease with many causes, and that with proper treatment, it can be cured. Open the lines of communication by encouraging questions. Understand that they have feelings and challenges of their own in life. Let them know that you care about them, too.

The key thing to remember is that to be most effective, treatment should address both the emotional and painful physical symptoms of depression.

Another way to help ease the symptoms of depression is through diet. According to author and nutritional researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., complex carbohydrates can help alleviate depression. When eaten by themselves, complex carbohydrates boost levels of the mood-stabilizing brain chemical, serotonin. She suggests eating one low-protein meal each day high in complex carbohydrates, such as rice, potatoes, or pasta.

A study at Texas A&M University also found that removing refined sugar and caffeine from the diet can significantly reduce depression, even when symptoms are severe.

Other dietary factors that help reduce symptoms include B-complex vitamins, drinking enough water, and an overall healthy diet, including adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Exercise is also beneficial.

One important thing to remember if you or someone you know suffers from depression is that it is a curable illness. It is not a character flaw, or a sign of weakness. It is a medical disorder caused by a complex combination of factors.

Another important thing to remember is that recovery is not a single event. It is a gradual process that takes time, patience, and compassionate understanding. With the right attitude and a good support system, sufferers of depression can recover and look forward to a bright future . . . full of life, hope, and joy!

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