In order to be considered healthy, one must be free of disease and ailments; they are physically active, exercise, and practice good nutrition. However one factor that is often overlooked is mental health.
Years ago I remember hearing someone say that depression and mental illness is fake and people just need to deal with they’re sh*t properly and get over it. That person and whoever else holds this opinion are simply ignorant.
If the body can become ill, so can the mind.
All though there are many forms of mental illness, with variable severities of each, I would like to focus on one form of mental illness in particular – depression.
The endocrine system (aka hormonal system) controls EVERYTHING. Hormones are substances produced by the endocrine glands that have a huge effect on bodily processes. The glands in the endocrine system influence growth and development, mood, sexual function, reproduction, and metabolism.
The nervous system also plays a major roll. In particular, the 3 main neurotransmitters of the brain (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) appear to have a strong relationship with depressive symptoms. Specific symptoms are associated with an increase or decrease in specific neurotransmitters.
Just to clarify, depression isn’t that crappy feeling after the Toronto Maple Leafs loose again, and again, and again. It goes much deeper than that.
“Depression is a mental illness that affects a person’s mood—the way a person feels. Mood impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them. This is more than a ‘bad day’ or ‘feeling blue.’ Without supports like treatment, depression can last for a long time.
Signs of depression include feeling sad, worthless, hopeless, guilty, or anxious a lot of the time. Some feel irritable or angry. People lose interest in things they used to enjoy and may withdraw from others. Depression can make it hard to focus on tasks and remember information. It can be hard to concentrate, learn new things, or make decisions. Depression can change the way people eat and sleep, and many people experience physical health problems.
Age and sex can also impact how people experience depression. Males often experience anger or irritability rather than sadness, which can make depression harder for others to see. Young people and older adults may experience lasting changes in mood that are mistakenly dismissed as a normal part of growing up or of aging.” – Canadian Mental Health Association
I have personally suffered from depression and have a family history of it – yes it can be genetic. It does not make me any less of a person, nor does it make me weak. It isn’t the easiest topic to discuss due to the social stigmas attached to it, but I believe people are becoming more open to the topic and that society as a whole is moving in a positive direction to help those who suffer from mental illness.
Symptoms of depression could include:
- Sadness throughout the day, nearly every day
- Loss of interest in or enjoyment of one’s favourite activities
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Excessive or inappropriate feelings of guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble making decisions
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of irritability
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Aches and pains (such as headaches, stomach pain, joint pains or other pains)
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Change in appetite or weight
- Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, first educate yourself as much as possible. Getting a thorough understanding will make you realise it’s not your fault and that there is treatment available. Depression has been/is being heavily studied and more talked about then ever. Go to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2 weeks, or if you’ve had a history of depression. Most importantly, be kind to your body and do not use substances to mask the problem(s), this will only prolong the issue and make it worse. Depression can get progressively worse and become extremely serious if left untreated.
Check out http://depressionhurts.ca/en/depression/ for more information.
Moreover, exercise may be the last thing one would want to do while depressed, but it WILL make a world of difference in your recovery. Exercise releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in the body and diminish the perception of pain. Regular exercise can ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, reduce stress, boost self-esteem, and help you sleep. If a full workout sounds impossible to you, go for daily walks, preferably outside. Little steps each day will get you closer to feeling like yourself again.