Everyone feels down at times. A depressed mood that is severe and does not lift after a couple of weeks might be depression. Depression is characterized by changes in sleep and eating habits, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities which used to be pleasurable. If your life has been significantly impacted by a pervasive or recurring depressive mood, you may be struggling with major depressive disorder.
Per the CDC report, 11 million people experience depression annually. About two thirds of these people suffer from a depressive episode with severe impairment to their daily functioning. The nature of a depressive episode may cause those suffering to lose hope and not get the help they need. There are many reasons to be hopeful for a full recovery. The first step is finding a counselor that understands what you’re going through and knows how to help.
In addition to counseling, there are various adjunct therapies that can help depression:
Yoga has been shown to reduce symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. The positive mind-body practice combines stretching and strength-based exercises with relaxation and meditative techniques. This article from Time Magazine cites a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine; after just three months of yoga symptoms of depression were reduced by at least 50% for all participants.
Medication is an effective way to treat depression. It’s possible that you will feel better after four to six weeks of beginning an antidepressant such as an SSRI, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor. Sometimes the process involves trying more than one until you find the right fit. Antidepressants have initial side effects which last about two weeks and then abate. Side effects that remain will have to be weighed against the benefits of taking the medication.
Taking an antidepressant could be a helpful addition to your treatment. It should be noted, however, that medication alone is not always the best option. Current research shows the most effective long-term treatment for depression is therapy, or a combination of medication and therapy.
Treating Depression from the Inside Out
Recent studies have concluded that the microbiome does in fact influence our mood. Scientists have found a correlation between the build up of certain gut bacteria and the presence of a depressed mood.
There is much more research to be conducted to validate these findings and turn correlation into causation, but this once controversial idea continues to be well accepted in the mental health and scientific communities. Taking probiotics or seeing a nutritionist can be a helpful addition to your treatment plan. If you are interested in finding out more check out the following books:
- Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes By Rob Knight
- 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness By Alanna Collen
- Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System By Jack Gilbert