QUICK HEALTH TIPS: Depression - continued
Probable the most common type of depresión is a chronic low-grade depression called dysthmia. This condition involves long-term and/or recurring depressive symptoms that are not necessarily disabling but keep a person from functioning normally and interfere with social interactions and enjoyment of life. Research has found that this type of depression often results from unconscious negative thinking habits.
Some people become more depressed in the winter months, when the days are shorter and darker. This type of disorder is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Women are more likely to suffer from SAD than are men. People who suffer this type of depression in the winter months lose their energy, suffer anxiety attacks, gain weight as a result of craving the wrong foods, sleep too much, and have a reduced sex drive. Many people get depressed around the December holidays. Suicides also seem to be highest during this time of year.
Foods greatly influence the brain’s behavior. A poor diet, especially one with a lot of junk foods, is a common cause of depression. The levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which regulate our behavior, are controlled by what we eat, and neurotransmitters are closely linked to mood. The neurotransmitters most commonly associated with mood are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased. When it produces dopamine or norepinephrine, we tend to think and act more quickly and are generally more alert.
Vigorous exercise can be an effective antidote to bouts of depression. During exercise, the brain produces pain-killing chemicals called endorphins and enkephalins. Certain endorphins and other brain chemicals released in response to exercise also produce a natural “high”. Most of those who exercise regularly say that they feel really good afterward. This may explain why exercise is the best way to get rid of depression, as is music which can have powerful effects on mood.
- Anthony R