We all feel sad and drag our feet from time to time. It’s a normal part of life. However, when this state of sadness, worthlessness and hopelessness persists for months on end, a diagnosis is in order.
Depression is an incredibly common mental illness. Somewhere between 350 and 700 million people in the world live with it, making it a leading cause of GP visits. Misconceptions surround the topic, and a certain stigma is associated with the condition. Many believe that depression sufferers are attention-seekers who just need to “stiffen their upper lip” and stop being cry-babies. Which is why many refuse to seek treatment, or even to talk about how they feel with their peers.
Depression often leads to decreased motivation and productivity at work, poor physical health, and problems in relationships (with family, friends, and romantic partner). In severe cases, depression can lead the sufferer to commit suicide.
According to the World Health Organization, depression will be among the top 5 leading causes of premature death by 2023, due to the ever-increasing suicide rate.
Causes of depression
Research has identified a couple main factors that contribute to depression. It’s the old “nature vs nurture” debate.
First, some individuals will be genetically predisposed to the disorder, as they have a natural tendency to be neurotic. In other words, they are perfectionists who worry more than the average, and tend to be very self-critical of themselves. Since genetic traits are passed on from parents to their children, it is not rare to witness depression running in families. No need to be a fatalist, though. Even in the event that you possess unfavorable genes, you still have a shot at a good life. Indeed, you still have control over your lifestyle and your mindset – and that’s HUGE. Trust me, I’m a naturally negative, self-critical person and yet I’ve learned to appreciate the fact that I’m alive!
Second, tough life circumstances can lead to depression. Events such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a bad breakup… can all make an individual slide into a pit of despair and self-doubt, if he doesn’t get rumination under control.
Third, addictions that spiral out of control certainly play a role in decreasing wellbeing. I’m thinking of drugs and alcohol first and foremost, but don’t forget that we live in an age of instant gratification, where small addictions are but a click away. Being a couch potato who watches TV 7 hours a day while munching on Doritos will make you miserable, I guarantee it.
- A prolonged state of either sadness or emptiness (feeling numb)
- Feeling hopeless about the future
- Low self-esteem
- Low energy levels and willpower
- Losing interest in the activities that used to be pleasurable
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Appetite changes – either eating uncontrollably or losing appetite
- Having a hard time concentrating
Most often, antidepressants are used as a first line treatment for depression along with talk therapy. And let me tell you why this fact makes me mad.
First off, we know close to nothing about our brains. The science is still in its infancy, in that department. We’ve figured out through trial and error that some chemicals alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, but we don’t know precisely why. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t advertising it, but psychiatry is really more of an art than a science.
Second, trials have shown that antidepressants barely work better than placebos.
Third, and most importantly, antidepressants come with a boatload of side effects. Loss of libido, genital numbness, emotional blunting (feeling numb to both pleasure and sadness), weight gain… Even scarier, is the fact that these side-effects do not go away after stopping treatment in a minority of cases. This condition is called Post-SSRI-Sexual-Dysfunction. A quick Google search will reveal to you that there are online communities dedicated to supporting those who suffer from lingering antidepressant side-effects – YEARS after quitting.
And if that wasn’t enough, these drugs display a hefty price tag. Last time I checked, a month’s worth of Cymbalta 60mg pills was $250. $500 for Prozac. And up to $1000 for Bupropion extended release tablets. Let’s not even mention drug cocktails.
I was put on 6 different antidepressants before I took the decision to ditch my doctor and prescriptions, in pursuit of natural alternatives.
Depression can be cured naturally
Don’t despair! Depression is most certainly beatable. I know a little something about it, because I’ve crushed my own depression years ago. Learn how I did it by reading my detailed guide here, or browsing my other articles on this website.