How do I know if I have depression?

Feelings of depression by themselves can be debilitating. But, feeling depressed is different than suffering from major depressive disorder. Major depression is diagnosed if you suffer from at least 5 of the DSM criteria below during the same 2-week timeframe and one of the symptoms is either depressed mood or loss of interest in pleasure.

  • Depressed mood most of the day nearly every day
  • Loss of interest in pleasure with most activities nearly every day
  • Unintentional weight loss or weigh gain, or a change in appetite nearly every day
  • A slowing of thoughts and decrease of physical activity observed by others
  • Loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Indecisiveness or reduction in the ability to concentrate nearly every day
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

What causes depression?

Research has indentified more than 100 causes for depression. Using Dr. Neil Nedley’s “multiple hit hypothesis,” these causes can be grouped into 10 categories with some examples of each one.

  • Genetic hit category: a family history of depression or suicide
  • Developmental hit category: abnormal family, abnormal development, or childhood abuse
  • Nutritional hit category: dietary deficiency in tryptophan or omega-3 fats or excess dietary cholesterol or sugar
  • Social hit category: absent social support, negative life events, or a family member with addiction
  • Toxic hit category: high levels of heavy metals such as lead or even a high risk of exposure to these toxins
  • Circadian rhythm hit category: insomnia, too much or too little sleep, or irregularities with sleeping or eating times
  • Addiction hit category: use of tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, recreational drugs, and long-term use of benzodiazepine or narcotic medications
  • Lifestyle hit category: lack of regular exercise, light exposure, or fresh air
  • Medical condition hit category: including hepatitis, head injury, heart disease, cancer, and poorly controlled diabetes (among other endocrine conditions)
  • Frontal lobe hit category: diets low in carbs and high in animal protein/cholesterol, entertainment TV/internet/syncopated rhythm addiction, frequent sexual stimulation, insufficient abstract thinking, and violating your value system

A person may have a single hit, but if there is only one hit they will likely be able to avoid major depression. This is good news! Just because you may have a genetic tendency toward depression does not necessarily mean that you will have to struggle with it for life. However, as we begin to accumulate multiple hits the development of major depression becomes much more likely.

How does depression affect overall health?

Depression is related to several other common health problems: obesity, insomnia, and metabolic disease. Because depression is linked to many other health conditions, it can negatively impact your overall health and is associated with a shorter lifespan. 

However, there is an even closer three-way relationship between depression, obesity, and insomnia. When people struggle with any of these three related conditions, they are much more likely to be affected by the other two. Because of this associative relationship, when one of these conditions is present, very often all three of these disorders may be present together. This can often feed forward to worsen the severity of these problems. 

How is depression best treated?

Depression is most often treated by health care providers using medications and less often behavioral therapy. Sometimes combinations of these treatments are used. Rarely, when depression is so severe that it is not responding to medications ECT or electrical shock therapy has even been used. 

However, with a better understanding of the “multiple hit” causes of major depressive disorder, it makes better sense to treat the specific hits involved. In fact, when using this approach Dr. Neil Nedley’s group has found a higher depression cure rate than can be obtained by the best medications available. 

Certainly, there are times when medication is necessary to treat depression. However, if we limit our treatment options to pharmaceuticals alone, we are ignoring a more practical and effective way to treat the majority of people that suffer from depression.

At LiveNew, we believe in partnering with your mental health team to incorporate a comprehensive treatment approach for your depression. Often your treatment can be improved using principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Additionally, for those interesting in participating, our Nedley community depression recovery program integrates the most sophisticated comprehensive lifestyle principles to reverse your depression hits. The Nedley community depression recovery program carries an 85% success rate. Using this approach your depression can be treated better and the quality of your life can be enriched.

If you are looking for a comprehensive and effective lifestyle depression recovery program, come LiveNew today!

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