Depression is a real illness with real symptoms, and it’s not a sign of weakness or something you can ‘snap out of’ by ‘pulling yourself together’.
Your doctor will usually consider a diagnose of depression if you have been experiencing memory and concentration problems, sleep difficulties, a low mood and symptoms that disrupt day to day functioning (like those listed in the chart below) for more than 2 weeks.
Treatment for depression usually involves the use of antidepressants and psychological interventions like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. (MBCT).
The relapse rate for people treated for depression, is quite high, but this relapse rate, can be significantly reduced, (or overcome) by taking a mind-body, social and environmental "self management" approach. (see wellness plan) and by practising Mindfulness or getting Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.
Anyone with Drug Resistant Depression, should consider pharmaceutical intolerance (food - salicylates, amins, glutamate, medicine - poor cytochrome 450 and environmental illness).
Sleep disorders like Insomnia and Rest Leg Syndrome are common to people with Depression. Resolving the sleep disorder can sometimes completely resolve depression. Find out more about Sleep and Depression from the National Sleep Foundation here.
Your diet may be contributing to your depressed moods. Food for the Brain Organisation, says there are a number of nutritional imbalances that can make you prone to depression such as:
Essential fats, do you need more Omega 3?
Homocysteine, is it too high?
Serotonin levels, do they need boosting with amino acids?
Blood sugar balance
Levels of the nutrients chromium and Vitamin D
Food intolerances, could they be making you sad?
Some health professionals say an anti inflammatory diet is helpful (like this one Download). But anti inflammatory diets like the mediterranean diet, can be quite high in salicylates, amines and glutamates, and may actually worsen depression and other symptoms in people with pharmacological food intolerance. This type of food intolerance should be considered in anyone who responds poorly to antidepressants says Dr Gordon Parker, director of the Black Dog Institute. If you have MCAD, foods high in histamine may be worsening your symptoms
Mindfulness has shown to alleviate depression in as little as 8 weeks, for many people. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is proving to be just as effective as anti-depressants, with a lower relapse rate. These are very useful techniques for managing stress, but you may also like to use other stress management and relaxation techniques, or work with a therapist who can help identify your psychological stressors, and provide guidance on how to manage them.
Medications like anti-depressants can be a useful tool for managing depression. They help many people, but do not cure everyone. In fact people who rely on antidepressants alone tend to have a high relapse rate. Antidepressants can worsen depression in some people. If you are a slow detoxifier (Cytochrome P450), or have pharmacological food intolerance, (which is often the case in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) you may find that anti-depressant cause very nasty side effects, and may actually make your depression worse. If this is happening to you, it is important to speak to your doctor, about reducing your dose. Stopping anti-depressants abruptly, can have very unpleasant consequences, and is not recommended. Here is what Help Guide has to say about this.