Depression and the Brain
Have you, or anyone you know, ever been in the same position as the person in the video above?
Did you think that depression was just a trivial mood swing, or maybe the person is a wimp or even a loser?
If you, or someone you know, has been exhibiting the symptoms that you have seen in the video, persistently, throughout the day for two weeks or more and has been accompanied with unexplained pains or aches, this person has been suffering in silence and need help, they need to see a doctor!
Depression is a major depressive disorder that is different from the "Blues". When we experience Depression we are grappling with feelings of severe despair that can affect almost every aspect of our life, it is, as if we are existing in a long dark tunnel for which there is no end.
Studies have shown that 79% of people who have been diagnosed with Depression, say that they have been Discriminated against because of their Depression, although, it has, also, been thought that Discrimination leads to Depression.
Please, don't discount it as someone changing into a different person or having low self confidence or laziness,( these traits are trivial compared to Depression).
Take a look at the picture (above) of PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan for Depression in a human brain.
Note the difference between the two.
A decrease in the white and yellow areas shows decreased brain activity due to depression, as opposed to the brain activity of a person without depression.
Depression is a genuinely, serious medical condition with real symptoms that are mental, physical, emotional and behavioral.
The table below should give you an idea what to look for.
Some Symptoms of Depression to look for :-
Unable to focus.
Feeling unexplained aches and pains in the body.
Feeling sad throughout the day, everyday.
Taking part in fewer social activities.
Feeling drained mentally.
Feeling as if there are knots in the gut or sick to your stomach.
Avoiding contact with friends.
Taking three hours to get something done that usually takes one hour.
Increase or decrease in weight.
Difficulty making decisions.
Moving and speaking slowly.
Feeling unecessarily guilty.
Not doing well at work.
Difficulty remembering things.
Loss of libido and interest in sex.
Losing interest in something that was once pleasurable.
Disturbed sleep (can't go to sleep, waking up too early) or sleeping too much.
Apologizing for everything.
Thoughts of suicide.
Becoming absent from work.
Not paying attention to their surroundings
Digestive problems that are resistant to treatment.
Having difficulties with family members
Weak immune system.
Having difficulty with other relationships
Constant colds and flu.
Not doing well at school
Become inactive, ( sit and stare blankly)
Clinical Depression is linked to Neurotransmitters in the Brain
Depression and the Brain
Depression is a brain disorder that leads to emotional problems. It is considered a chronic medical condition because it disrupts the balance of the brain. People of all ages experience symptoms of depression stemming from a variety of conditions.
It could be triggered by an external condition, i.e. a traumatic event. Or
It could be caused by an internal condition, sneaking up on you from the inside, i.e., a chronic illness.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals that neurons make and secrete so they can communicate with other neurons throughout the brain.
Researchers have discovered three major neurotransmitters that are produced in the brain, they carry electrical impulses and chemical signals that carry messages across the brain to different parts of the body, through the central nervous system. These are :-
- Serotonin - a chemical that helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another and to other parts of the body. It is found in the blood platelets, the digestive tract and in the central nervous system. It contributes to feelings of well being and happiness. A low brain cell production of Serotonin, or lack of receptor cells to receive it and other biochemical glitches can lead to depression symptoms such as anxiety, panic and even an excess of anger.
- Norepinephrine - a chemical that is a neurotransmitter and a stress hormone. It is secreted by an inner region of the adrenal organ and is also, produced by the nerve endings. As a hormone, it works hand in hand with adrenaline in responding to stressful situations, and is responsible for keeping the heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels normal, which is significant to the body's fight or flee response. As a neurotransmitter, it's plays an important role in our learning,sleeping, dreaming, attentiveness and emotional capabilities. A low level of norepinephrine will lead to depression symptoms such as low energy, memory retention, loss of interest, low mood and low self esteem.
- Dopamine - is a chemical compound that acts as a neurotransmitter. It is produced in several areas of the brain and is essential for the healthy functioning of the central nervous system, it is also responsible for our motivation-driven learning process. This is associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness, it also, involves controlling movement and aiding in the flow of information to the front of the brain. Depression is linked to an imbalance in the dopamine system. A low release of dopamine from the brain and the poor ability of the brain cells to transmit dopamine throughout the central nervous system can lead to depression.
Major Chronic Depression
Mild Chronic Depression
Postpartum Depression in women
Types of Depression
There are a various types of Depression. I have listed a few of the popular ones :-
- Major Depression a.k.a, Major depressive disorder or clinical disorder, this is, that constant feeling of hopelessness and despair that interferes with your ability to eat , sleep, work, study or enjoy friends and family or any of your previous interests and hobbies. Persons with this type of depression entertain thoughts of death and may become suicidal. Chronic major depression may require treatment for an indefinite amount of time.
- Dysthymic Disorder a.k.a Mild Chronic Depression or Dysthymia, is characterized as changes in the levels of chemicals in the brain. Medications, problems at work or relationships may play a role in someone becoming mildly depressed. It has the same symptoms as chronic depression but is not as serious, although it does interfere with your daily well being. It is a milder form of major depression and requires similar treatment.
- Bipolar disorder or Manic Depressive Disorder, this is a very unstable state of depression. One experiences severe highs and lows with period of normal moods that can switch rapidly or gradually. In a low depressive state, a person can have all the symptoms of depression and in a high manic state, one can be overactive, high energy, making unwise decision and become very harmful to oneself or other people around them. In that, they can go from being suicidal to murderous. If left untreated, a person with this type of depression can become psychotic.
- Postpartum Depression, describes the range of physical and emotional changes that new mother experience. It is common among women who had recently given birth. Postpartum Depression affects nearly 10 - 15% of women about three to four months after labor, it is linked to the rapid drop of hormones after delivery, change in social life and other psychological and life changes that comes with having a baby. what is known, is that levels of the female reproductive hormones increase ten times more during pregnancy, then drop after delivery. The chemical imbalance is a symptom of depression. A small percentage of women can develop postpartum psychosis. Usually counseling and support are a part of the treatment that can help mothers through this.
- Seasonal Depression or (SAD) Seasonal Affective Disorder, a.k.a Winter depression this is a mood disorder that affects a person at the same time every year, e.g. winter getting you down more than usual, starting with Fall. A change in ones attitude is automatically triggered each year at the same time, this is caused by hormones that are manufactured deep in the brain. Light therapy is one of the treatments used for this type of disorder.
- Psychotic Depression, this is a type of Major Depression, which is so severe that it is characterized as a person's thoughts and emotions losing touch with reality, (becoming psychotic). People with psychotic depression may think that they are hearing voices or think that other people around them can hear their thoughts or everyone wants to harm them.They have strange illogical ideas, get angry for no reason. People with psychosis might be ashamed or humiliated by their thoughts and try to hide them, this makes it difficult to diagnose. It is, also known to have a genetic component and can run in families. A person with a depression this severe, needs to be hospitalized and be in the care of mental health professionals, it is a treatable disorder which can lead to suicide if it is not successfully treated.
A few symptoms of psychotic depression are :-
- Be abnormally concerned about ones health.
- Intellectual impairment.
Who can get Depression?
The answer is :- ALL OF US.
Anyone can become Depressed. Whether you are a man, woman, teenager or child. Young person or old person, even your pets can get depressed.
We all get health problems, experience life changes and stressors, and some of us deal with disability in one form or another. One can also feel depressed, when we are not getting enough folate, ( vitamin Bc that is needed for cell growth and reproduction), or omega-3 fatty acids (protect against heart disease,inflammation, etc.).
Depression in Men
Men who become Depressed
Men of all ages go through life changes that can trigger depression. Changes such as :-
- Losing a job.
- Finding out that you have a health problem.
- Military service/combat experience.
- Sudden money problems.
- Death of a loved one.
- Questions about one's sexuality.
These are just some of life's events that can cause depression in men.Too many men ignore their signs of depression, cover it up or even deny that they have it. This is due to the fact that Depression may be thought of as :-
- A sign of weakness.
- Losing the respect of those around them.
- A case of mistaken identity, i.e. men might feel that these are related to their manhood, when it is Depression.
- Sexual problems, again, the "manhood thing". Men are often unwilling to admit that they have sexual problems.
- A woman's problem.
Depression does affect more women than men (10 - 20% of women and 5 - 10% of men). But it has no gender classification, it is nothing to be. ashamed about and there is no reason to be ashamed of it. You can recognize for what it is and face it as a challenge, so you can work on it and start getting out of it. Start by talking to your family doctor about your about what you are going through mentally and physically. The point is, do not suffer in silence
Depression in Women.
Women who are depressed.
Depression in women manifests itself as :-
- Decreased energy, fatigued, feeling slowed down.
- Lack of interest in anything at all, eating, drinking, sex, friends, hobbies, etc.
- Physical symptoms that doesn't respond to treatment, i.e. stomach ache, headache, indigestion and other bodily pains.
- Sleeping too much or not enough sleep.
- Difficulty concentrating, forgetful.
- Excessive crying.
- Weight loss.
Depression is more common in women than in men, before adolescence the rate of depression in boys and girls is about the same. With beginning of the pubescent stage in a girls life, the risk of becoming depressed increase two folds.
This is attributed to the fact that there are changes in the hormone levels in a female body more than men. Women's bodies goes through several changes throughout their lifetime:-
- Start of the menstrual cycle during puberty.
- Hormonal fluctuations each month in the menstrual cycle.
- During pregnancy.
- After giving birth.
- Experiencing a miscarriage.
- Experiencing menopause.
Some factors that would contribute to depression in women:-
- Physical and sexual abuse as a child.
- Loss or threat of social support.
- Being a single parent, i.e. divorce or separation.
- After Child birth.
- Use of contraceptive.
- Family history of mood disorder.
- Ongoing psychological stress of juggling work and family.
- Premenopausal syndrome (PMS).
- Loss of a parent or sibling.
Depression in teenagers.
Teenage who become Depressed
Did you ever wonder if it depression is the cause of your teenage kids' irritability and unhappy state, instead of just plain old teen hormones?
Studies show that one in every eight adolescents have teen depression, or for about 100 student in high school, 20 will suffer from depression. Teens can develop feelings of worthlessness caused by school performance, social status, peer pressure, etc. Kids with teen depression may :-
- Sleep excessively.
- Exhibit criminal tendencies, such as shoplifting.
- Turn to drugs.
- Change their eating habits.
- Spend long hours in their room, behind closed doors, without any apparent cause.
- Complain of pain in the stomach, head or lower back.
- Fatigue, trouble concentrating.
- Sudden drop in grades.
- Be rebellious.
- Withdrawal from friends.
Teen depression can be diagnosed through interviews conducted by health professional, this is to determine the severity of depression experienced by a teen. There are certain signs to look for in observing a depressed teenager :-
- Starting to use or abuse drug.
- Starting to use or abuse alcohol.
- Talking about how hopeless the future is.
- Preparing for death, giving away favourite possessions, writing goodbye letters
- Talking as if no one cares.
- Threatening to kill oneself.
Depression in Children
Young children who become depressed.
Depression does not only affect adults. Young children who are depressed display low mood or sadness, just like adults. It should not be discounted as just emotional or psychological growing up or maturing.Here are some signs to look for in a depressed child:-
- Change in feelings - child may start feeling guilty, angry, fearful, rejected, etc.
- Changes in behaviour - child may cry easily, overreact, have sudden bursts of anger or tears over small incidents.
- Feeling worthless. A child might think that they don't matter.
- Feeling fatigued, low energy.
- Low self-esteem, blame self for everything, dislike self.
- Impaired thinking. Would be able to see self as smart or able to do what the other child did.
- Difficulty in concentrating. Can't focus on a task at hand.
- Change in appearance. Dress in such a way that would indicate that he or she don't care anymore.
If you notice some or most of these symptoms in a your child talk to them and talk to your family doctor about it.
Hope for Depression
There is Hope for Depression Sufferers.
You can work with your doctor to cope with, and get out of depression by seeking to understand the symptoms and how it is affecting you personally. There are support groups that focus on you and depression and along with the general medical symptoms of depression, there are a few more symptoms that you, personally, can check yourself for, and face and conquer in order to get yourself out of depression. Here are a few personality traits that you can look at yourself for :-
- Are you a person who is pleasant and charming with everyone outside of your home but you are the complete opposite in your own home? This would create stress for you, start by being pleasant and charming at home too.
- Do you just talk and think about yourself only? That would eventually isolate you from everyone, become genuinely interested in the other people around you.
- Do you criticize everyone around you? Learn to "hold" your tongue or praise people every time a criticism comes to the tip of your tongue.
- Do you "put down" other people all the time?Think about it, if you are better than everyone else, why are they all happier and more accepted than you. Look at the person's good points and be a genuine friend.
- Are you a person who is constantly envious of other people? Think of the reason that you are envious, make it your personal mission to change that feeling to happiness for your own mental health.
I could go on and on about all the personality traits that can send us into depression (the ones that the doctor don't know about), but you get the idea, although it can be tough to do. Always Look on the Positive side of Life, makes for a Healthier Mental State and Body!
Do you have Depression? If you have answered Yes to most or all of these Questions, talk to your Doctor.
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Have you been experiencing unexplained pains?
- Have lost pleasure in your interests and hobbies?
- Do you often think of committing suicide?
- Yes, constantly.
- How often have you been having sleep problems?
- Not at all
- All the time
- Have you found that you have feelings of worthlessness or guilt?
- No, not without cause
- Yes, all the time
- Do you feel antisocial, lonely all the time?
- No, not at all
- Yes, all the time
- Did you found that you have a change in appetite and loss of energy?
- No, not at all
- Yes, all the time
- Are you feeling sad all the time?
- Do you lack interest in your surroundings all the time?
- Do you feel like you are in a long dark tunnel for which there is no end?
- Not at all
- No, not without cause
- No, not at all
- No, not at all
The video "Sorry" is the property of "Ragenineteen".
This hub would not be possible without information from these sites:-
skperdon (author) from Canada on March 13, 2017:
Thank you for your comment Bobby. I didn't know much about Depression before I researched it for this hub. I'm happy that the knowledge has helped. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Bobby from U.K on March 11, 2017:
This was a very informative hub. As someone who is on the recovery from mild depression and supporting another with severe depression your words here have given us hope. Thank you so much.
skperdon (author) from Canada on February 17, 2016:
Thank you for your wonderful comment about the video Debra. I like it too, I think it brings the focus on the problem. I know several people who have been hit by depression and didn't even recognize it creeping up until it became really severe.
Debra Hargrove from North Carolina on February 16, 2016:
What a nice video. I like the song and the music that went with the video. Hope for depression animation. Depression Hurts everyone is a very good point because you are right it can hit anyone.
skperdon (author) from Canada on December 14, 2015:
I'm happy that you enjoyed reading it. Thank you for your comments Happymommy2520 and Linda Robinson60.
Depression creeps up on everyone. I do hope that I've provided in this hub.
Linda Robinson from Cicero, New York on December 10, 2015:
An amazing, incredible, informed hub, fantastic so much crucial information. I really enjoyed it because as you did mention, yes, at one time or another everyone will be depressed, know the signs and the helpful advice not to be dragged down for long. So nice meeting you. :)
Amy from East Coast on September 29, 2015:
I really enjoyed your Hub. My dad has been dealing with depression for many years. It is getting much worse as he is getting up there in years. If affect all of us as a family very much.
skperdon (author) from Canada on July 24, 2014:
I'd be very happy if you don't, Jenny. Realizing that you have Depression is the first step to knowing that you can get out it. It makes you strong enough to tell your family doctor that you have been feeling this way for a very long time, too long for that matter!
I hope that my hub has given you some understanding of Depression and that it has helped you to recognize the urgency of getting rid of your illness.
I want to thank you for reading and commenting on my hub Jenny. Get well soon!
Jenny on July 24, 2014:
I have had depression for a very long time so I feel like crulling under a rock or not get out of bed or not go out.so I also feel that i have to run and hide.
skperdon (author) from Canada on May 24, 2013:
Thank you Mel Carriere. It really is a scarry mental issue, I feel depression should gain more public attention. It really can be fatal.
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 24, 2013:
I have had depression in my immediate family and so I know that it affects everyone of all ages. You obviously know your stuff here. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. In today's disconnected society in which machines are more important than people this kind of discussion is increasingly important.
skperdon (author) from Canada on May 23, 2013:
You can talk to me anytime Bedbugabscond. I do hope you get through this soon, I am sorry that you are going through it alone.
I have a friend who went through severe depression too, she had to be hospitalized because of it. For healing, she had me and her therapist. She has come through it safely and has more harmony with family now.
Thank you for sharing and thank you for your comments
Melody Collins from United States on May 23, 2013:
This is an amazing hub! I have been suffering from depression. I also have a lump that I am about to get an MRI for and a CT scan. I have had a sort of traumatic event happen, too. I have felt so lonely through this. Partly because of the depression, but partly because my friends and family have stopped talking to me. Discrimination didn't cause this, but it isn't helping.
skperdon (author) from Canada on April 07, 2013:
Thank you Conservative Lady. I totally agree with you, I didn't recognize depression until I came in close contact with it, I didn't know how to help. Scared the hell out of me.
Sheila from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State on April 06, 2013:
Very thorough and informative hub, well done! Depression is a plague on normal life but there are things depressed people can do to better their situation and hopefully lead to a better outcome for the individual. Voted Up, Useful, and Interesting.