Sometimes we just have a bad day or feel like nothing seems to be going our way. The occasional wave of crankiness or sadness is natural; after all, humans have a variety of emotions and moods depending on our current situation. But when those feelings of being down in the dumps don’t seem to go away and everything is covered with a gray cloud, this may be a sign of depression.

With all of today’s hyped-up commercials on “curing” medical conditions, it’s important that we first define and clarify exactly what depression is. Simply put, it’s a whole body illness, which means that it has the potential to affect the body, mind, mood and thoughts. When someone suffers from depression, they can’t just escape a bad mood. Rather, this overwhelming sense of sadness, lack of motivation and chronic melancholy can drastically affect the way a person eats and sleeps, how she feels about herself and how she perceives the world around her.

Depression can be triggered by a number of different things that we may encounter in our lives. Perhaps it was a loss of a loved one or the failure to pull through on something we were sure we could achieve that served as the catalyst for the condition. It can also result from physical or mental trauma, a poor diet, a physical illness or prescription medications.

There is a push to treat depression with antidepressant drugs such as Zoloft and Prozac, but there are also many natural ways to safely lessen the symptoms brought on by depression.

If the onset of depression is a result of problems in our relationships, lifestyles or perception of ourselves, psychotherapy may be just what the doctor ordered. Mental health practitioners can help us determine if we have any self-destructive thoughts or behaviors, and they may also be able to safely guide us as we work on mending relationships or dealing with negative past experiences that trigger depression.

I frequently mention the importance of exercise and a healthy diet in this blog, and that’s because these two components are essential in full-body wellbeing. Maintaining an active lifestyle with walking, jogging, team sports, weightlifting or any other active sport helps counteract the lethargy and helplessness brought on by depression.

Don’t forget to balance that activity out with a healthy diet. Get rid of the simple, refined carbs and sugar, and introduce a diet balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates and essential fatty acids. Fresh produce and lean meat packed with antioxidants and vitamins will help keep the nervous system healthy.

People with depression tend to isolate themselves, thinking that others don’t want to spend time with them. This cycle of learned hopelessness can be catastrophic, and it’s just not true! Those who suffer from depression should make an effort to spend time with their loved ones, join clubs that interest them and socialize with other people.

It’s also not a bad idea to join a support group with others who also have depression. These groups help people learn how to verbalize their problems, provide people with new ways of looking at things that trouble them and offer built-in support with other people who have been through the same thing.

Join us October 27 at The Specific Chiropractic Center to learn more about depression and what you can do to manage it through natural means. Seating is limited so reserve your spot today!

REFERENCES

Franklin, Donald J., Ph.D. What is a Depressive Disorder? Psychology Information Online. Retrieved September 23, 2010 from http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/description.html.

Oliva, Robert M., CSW. Dealing with Depression. HealingWell.com. Retrieved September 23, 2010 from http://www.healingwell.com/library/depression/article.asp?author=oliva&id=1.