What is Depression?

At some time in our lives, most of us suffer some degree of depression because of the physical and emotional stresses that are a part of adult life. We suffer losses of loved ones and friends, disappointments in our relationships and careers, and endure threats to our physical health or that of our parents, spouses, or children. And sometimes we stagger under the emotional weight of these typical stresses of adult living and become depressed. This situational or reactive kind of depression, clearly a result of a psychologically burdensome event, may require nothing but time, patience, and supportive love to resolve itself as long as the symptoms do not become too severe or last too long.

DepressionBut when the typical symptoms— sadness of mood, guilt feelings, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, loss of interest in work or social life, loss of energy, headaches and other physical complaints, sleep disruptions, change of appetite, and decreased sexual drive—interfere with your ability to carry on with your daily activities, you may need the assistance of a qualified and compassionate counselor to help you find your way out of the depression.

Other causes for depression have physical roots—for example, the hormonal upheaval that women often experience during menopause may bring on quite a severe depression. Oftentimes, however, this kind of depression responds quite readily with replacement of female reproductive hormone (estrogen).

Some people experience depression during the winter months, when the available sunlight decreases. To alleviate this kind of depression, called SAD or seasonal affective disorder, you need only to spend more time in full-spectrum sunlight, provided by the sun or by a full-spectrum sunlight lightbulb. But some depressions have no discernible cause; they simply come on and often persist for many years.

Struggling to overcome this kind of disorder of mood, called an endogenous depression, often demands enormous time and patience and the help of a qualified and compassionate counselor with whom you feel at ease. We encourage you, if you feel you have become depressed, with or without obvious cause, to explore your feelings with a therapist who can, like a guide on any journey, help you find your way more quickly and safely than if you try to go it alone. The need for therapy or prescription medications notwithstanding, nutrition may also play an important role in contributing to the development of depression, as well as worsening or alleviating its symptoms. Let's see how in Depression diet.

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