Most of us have experienced a day or two of feeling down from time to time. It is a normal part of being a human being dealing with everyday tasks, work, raising children, trying to get ahead, etc. But sometimes feeling down can last longer than we realize and can even become a part of us so much that we forget what it may be like to be truly happy. Being depressed over a long period of time is not normal nor is it healthy.
What is depression?
When intense feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness — last for several days to weeks and keeps you from living your life, it may be something more than just sadness.
You could be suffering from one of the several types of depression.
What causes depression?
1. Biological Causes
There are several biological factors believed to contribute to depression including:
- Neurotransmitters – these chemical messengers in the brain have been implicated in the cause of depression since the 1970s. A central nervous system disruption in serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are thought to be a direct cause of depression.
- Hormones – hormone changes may trigger depression. Hormone changes are seen in thyroid problems, menopause and in other conditions.
2. Environmental Causes
Some environmental factors contributing to depression include:
- Death of a loved one
- Loss of a job
- Financial troubles
- High-stress situations
You may be suffering from depression if you have five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks:
- You feel tired or have a lack of energy almost every day.
- You feel worthless or guilty almost every day.
- You have a hard time focusing, remembering details, and making decisions.
- You can’t sleep, or you sleep too much almost every day.
- You have almost no interest or pleasure in many activities nearly every day.
- You think often about death or suicide (not just a fear of death).
- You feel restless or slowed down.
- You’ve lost or gained weight.
- You feel irritable and restless.
- You overeat or stop feeling hungry.
- You have aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t go away or get better with treatment.
- You have sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings.
While these symptoms are common, not everyone with depression will have the same ones. How severe they are, how often they happen, and how long they last can vary. 
Types of Depression
Keep in mind that depression isn’t a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. From atypical depression to seasonal affective disorder, the condition has many faces. Here are the 10 major types of depression:
1. Clinical depression – the most common type with about 7% of adults in the US feeling debilitated by symptoms. The good news is that an estimated 80 to 90 percent of people with major depression respond well to treatment.
2. Dysthymia — a type of depression that causes a low mood or mood disorders over a long period of time — perhaps for a year or more. You may function adequately but not optimally and ultimately be at risk for episodes of major or clinical depression.
3. Postpartum Depression – can occur anywhere from weeks to months after childbirth, and almost always develops within a year after a woman has given birth.
4. Seasonal Depression – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) typically occurs in winter months and lifts in the spring and is likely due to a lack of natural sunlight. This condition is also known as winter depression and if you are affected by this condition, you may it helpful to install full-spectrum lights in your working area to help lift your mood. 
5. Atypical Depression – common signs include a sense of heaviness in the arms and legs — like a form of paralysis and an ability to feel better when something good happens.
6. Psychotic Depression – a serious mental state is of disorganized thinking or behavior including delusions and hallucinations that may lead to becoming catatonic and not speaking or leaving bed for long periods of time.
7. Bipolar Disorder – characterized by periods of extreme lows followed by periods of extreme highs and has one of the highest risks for suicide.
8. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder — a type of depression that affects women during the second half of their menstrual cycle and can be severe enough to affect a woman’s relationships and her ability to function normally.
9. Situational Depression – is triggered by a stressful or life-changing event, such as a job loss, the death of a loved one, trauma — even a bad breakup. 
10) Holiday Depression – the holiday season for most people is filled with lots of parties and social gatherings with family and friends. However, for some people, the holidays bring about loneliness and depression, sadness, self-reflection, and anxiety. Typical sources of this depression are due to excess stress, illness, extra expectations, the inability to be with family or friends, loss of a loved one, to name a few.
How to Deal with Depression
Perhaps the single most effective mood elevator is physical exercise.
Here’s how regular exercise may help ease depression:
- Release feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.
- Takes your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.
- Gain confidence by meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, which can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
- Get more social interaction even if it means just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood or hit the treadmill at the gym.
I usually recommend my patients do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, 3-5 days a week to help significantly shift their depression symptoms. And for some, as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — may also make a difference.
2. Foods for Depression
It is no secret that what you eat can affect your feelings and thoughts. I am a big proponent of dietary changes to help ease depression. Several studies have found that people who eat a poor-quality diet — one high in processed meats, overly sweet desserts, fried foods, refined cereals, and high-fat dairy products — are more likely to report symptoms of depression.
The good news is that the people who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish were less likely to report being depressed. Here are some mood-enhancing nutrients found in many healthy foods:
- Vitamin D found in salmon, trout, sardines, mushrooms, egg yolks, and cod liver oil
- The nutrient-rich amino acid called tryptophan is contained in turkey, chicken, eggs, chocolate, and spirulina
- A nutrient called selenium in foods such as brazil nuts, seafood, sunflower seeds, and beans
- Vitamin beta-carotene is in carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, butternut squash, and broccoli
- Vitamin B12 is mainly in flesh foods like fish, meat, poultry, as well as eggs and fortified breakfast cereals
- Folate (or vitamin 9) foods are found in green leafy greens, avocados, Brussel Sprouts, asparagus, and lentils
- Good fats such as omega-3s are in foods like “wild” fish, walnuts, eggs, chia and flaxseeds, and hemp
3. Natural Supplements for Depression
Among the standard approaches that have been proven effective for depression are complementary or alternative treatments which include the use of some cutting-edge supplements that really can help.
I have a “depression-free kit” I recommend for my patients along with diet and exercise. One of my favorites is Mood-Stasis™ which has a blend of vitamins and herbs that work synergistically to support a calm and positive mental outlook.
Also, in my “kit” is 5-HTP Synergy™ which is a formula of 5-hydroxytryptophan and vitamin B6 for supporting the neurotransmitter serotonin which contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.
Finally – if you are not getting your B vitamins, you may be at risk for depression. The B-complex vitamins — are absolutely essential to mental and emotional well-being but are destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, nicotine, and caffeine so supplements may be a good way to replenish them. Two great ones are B-Supreme which is an extremely potent formula and Trifolamin™ lozenges which provide a synergistic combination of the three bioavailable forms of vitamin B12. B12 deficiency is most often linked to depression in vegetarians and vegans.
4. Herbs for Depression
One herb, hypericum extract (St. Johnswort), is a natural antidepressant commonly used in Europe. I use this herb in the form of fluid extract and recommend one or two dropperfuls mixed with water up to three times a day on an empty stomach. If depression is consistent, then I usually recommend this treatment for about six weeks.
Oat straw tea is known as a tonic for the nervous system. It nourishes and soothes people who are frazzled, depressed or undergoing emotional stress.
I also believe that undergoing a comprehensive detox program can help “reset” your body and mind to move forward with a better outlook in general that can keep depression at bay.
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Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself plagued by persistent feelings of hopelessness and depression. If your mental health issues last for a while, and support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, it may be time to seek help from your doctor or mental health professional. 
CONTACT ME TODAY and let me help you take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can creep up on you. Don’t abandon healthy habits as overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Learn to manage your triggers with a holistic approach that includes a healthy diet plan, simple stress management strategies that restore inner calm, and natural supplements. Having a clear plan and positive thinking can lead to more joy and peace to your world.