What Is Depression? More Than Just an Emotion
By Katelyn Yarnell
Depression is so much more than just feeling down or sad at random moments or due to a particular situation. Yes, it can be used as a word to describe one’s mood, but clinical depression is so much more. Depression is a serious medical illness that so many people struggle with on a daily basis. Those who are directly effected by the troubling disease are not the only ones who are carrying the burden on their shoulders.
What is it?
Clinically speaking, depression is a chemical imbalance within ones brain. An imbalance of the hormones such dopamine and serotonin, to name a few.
Dopamine plays a very significant role in your body’s day to day function. More significant than most are aware of. Dopamine is in charge of not only emotional balance, but also a very important contributor to the amount of control one has over even just simple motor functions such has lifting up a glass of water. This is why depression is commonly a precursor to Parkinson’s disease. The disease in which one tends to tremor when trying to perform motor skills.
Serotonin, on the other hand, is a messenger throughout the body, rather than a direct mood effector like dopamine. Even still, a lack of this hormone that flows throughout your body can have a larger impact that one cares to imagine it would. Here’s a fact that you may be surprised to learn. 90% of serotonin is made within your digestive tract. Funny to think that such an important hormone would be created in the same place your food is digested, huh? This is because the creation of serotonin begins with a substance called tryptophan. This word may sound familiar to you. This is because it seems to be some what common knowledge that turkey tends to contain significant amounts of tryptophan. This is why a large helping of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner tends to put most of us straight to sleep.
Who does it affect?
Now that you have a general understanding of what the physical/chemical causes of clinical depression are I’ll tell you more about who this disease tends to effect. To put it simply, any one can have depression. Though some are more genetically susceptible than others. That’s why it’s so important to know as much of your family’s medical history as you can find out. That way, when you go to your primary care doctor you can tell them this information. Those who do have a finally history of depression are the ones who would be more likely to suffer from the disease. Take for example, me for instance. My paternal grandmother as well as my own father have and suffer from depression. My father’s case is kind of out of the norm though.
With it being said that my paternal grandmother has depression, it can be deduced that my father is genetically susceptible to depression himself. My fathers depression was triggered, he didn’t just wake up with it one day. His doctor had prescribed him a medication that was supposed to help him quit smoking. Instead it sent him into a deep depression, and he still smokes cigarettes to this day. This is why it is very important to let your doctor know of your family’s medical history now a days. Back then they didn’t know as much about the side effects of medication, as they do now.
Once his depression was triggered he’s had to live with it ever since. He hasn’t been the only one struggling with the illness in my family’s home. My fathers depression effected my mother as well as myself as I was growing up.
My mother told me stories of about how things were when I was just born.This is the time period when my father was just beginning to see the signs of there being something the matter. Because he didn’t know what was wrong with him he went to stay with his friend for a few weeks. This had a major impact on my mother, because at the time I was just a new born. She was left home alone to take care of her new baby. After speaking with my grandmother, his mother, they both came to the conclusion that depression must be what he was dealing with.
Once this conclusion was brought to my father he decided to see his doctor about the situation. He has now been on anti depression medication for nearly my entire life.
Because I was so young through the thick of it, I don’t recall much of what had happened back then. But, in retrospect, I can now see that certain situations were as they were due to the fact that my father was dealing with this disease. There would be some days that he wouldn’t get off the couch for hours on end. I would ask why that was, and was just told that it was because he was tired. Some days he wouldn’t go to my soccer games, or other extra curricular events, and now I know why.
How can one cope?
The best thing you can do, not only for yourself, but also for the person dealing with the disease, is to educate yourself. The last thing they need is someone telling them that its “all in their head”, and asking them “why can’t you come out with us today, instead of just laying in bed all day?”. Some days thats all they have the energy to do. It’s a never ending mental battle. A battle that can drain every ounce of energy out of you. If they’re having a bad day with their disease, which is not uncommon, just let them lay in bed all day if that’s what they need. If it becomes excessive definitely encourage them to visit their doctor.
If you are the person dealing with the disease directly, just know that any amount of communication you can offer is appreciated. Let your loved ones know about the disease that you are dealing with. Let them know that you just need a day to yourself in bed. That its not them, its just the depression.
Medication can be tricky, especially with this disease. Antidepressants can cause a plethora of side effects, that in turn, call for other medications entirely to combat the side effects. Finding the right medication to treat your depression, sadly, is a balancing act.
Nature has its healing effects as well. Multiple studies have shown that increased amounts of sunlight (vitamin D) have proven to significantly help those who suffer from depression chronically. Not only sunlight, but just taking the time to enjoy and appreciate nature’s beauty can really have positive effects on ones mood and outlook. I always remember my father telling me that the one thing he does each day is to find one thing to be thankful and appreciative of. “Each morning when I drive to work I find one beautiful thing to be thankful for. Whether its a gorgeous sunrise, or even just a nice tree I happen to pass by. There are always beautiful things in life to be thankful for. Never take for granted each day you’ve been given. Instead, find something to love about it.”
Katelyn’s information and bio:
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Katelyn is a lifestyle/medical blogger. She lives in south Florida with her boyfriend and family. She aspires to become a nurse. She is beginning her journey into the field of nursing as of January, 2018.
When she is not working on her blog, Katelyn can be found at the gym, the craft store, or snuggled up at home working on a craft or two. She loves to crochet as well as work on home improvement projects around the house. Cooking is also a new found hobby of hers.