Almost everyone suffers from feeling a bit blue sometimes. Clinical depression, of course, is not just the occasional feeling of being down in the dumps; depression is much different, much deeper, and much more potentially dangerous. It’s a persistent illness, a legitimate medical condition and one with physiological roots that are often due to chemical imbalances in the brain.
We know the how of depression, but sometimes it’s hard identifying the why – the reason why one person develops depression while someone else in the same or similar situation does not. That being said, modern medical science has identified more than one possible culprit when it comes to what might be helping to trigger depressive episodes. Here are four things that may very well be responsible for causing depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Referred to as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder was once known as “the winter blues” – a melancholy that seems to be brought about by the changing of the seasons. While the Mayo Clinic isn’t entirely sure why seasonal changes can cause SAD, it’s likely due to a number of factors. Reduced levels of daily sunlight in the winter can play havoc with the circadian rhythm, your body’s internal ability to tell time, and could also interfere with the ability of the body to produce key neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. This can have a negative impact on mood, sleep patterns, and the ability to fight off depression.
SAD isn’t just limited to winter months. While summer-onset SAD is rarer, it does happen – and that means while the rest of the world around you might be exhilarated by warm, green days with plenty of sunlight, your own internal rhythms may have problems adjusting to the change – which can disrupt you as much as it can in the winter months.
The good news is that there are ways to treat SAD, the most common form being a specialized lamp that provides simulated levels of sunlight. Sometimes just spending 30 minutes basking in the glow of one of these light boxes is enough to help reset your internal clock.
Bad Oral Health
There’s lots of evidence that bad oral health is linked to a number of other medical conditions including high blood pressure and diabetes, but did you know that there is an increasing amount of proof that oral health problems could be indicators of depression as well?
It’s no shock that people suffering from depression are likely to practice poor standards of self-care, and not brushing regularly or neglecting to visit the dentist can be one of the ways this poor self-care can manifest. However, new research indicates that poor oral health could actually be a risk factor; there are studies linking harmful mouth bacteria with the symptoms of depression, something that has implications for both preventing depression and managing it. To find out more, ask your local health professional on orthodontic treatments for better oral health.
If you start feeling symptoms of depression after you begin taking a new prescription medication, you’re not alone – all too many people find themselves in the same boat when beginning new meds, usually because of the associated side effects with a particular drug.
Any number of medications can cause depression as a side effect. Drugs used to treat acne, high blood pressure, menopause, and even anxiety have been known to cause neurochemical imbalances in many people, making it a difficult and sometimes frustrating experience when faced with the dilemma of trying to treat one medical condition only to have to deal with another one resulting from the treatment of the first.
One of the worst offenders when it comes to triggering depression are birth control pills. These contraceptive pills are packed full with synthetic progesterone, a hormone that can change body chemistry in unpredictable ways. Women prone to depression are at heightened risk when taking hormone-based birth control, and why it’s still not clear why synthetic progesterone causes this reaction, doctors recommend using contraception that doesn’t require the use of progesterone in order to avoid the possibility.
You are what you eat. While there’s no evidence of depression being triggered by eating certain foods, there have been some studies linking the lack of certain foods in someone’s diet with the development of depression.
Some of the nutrients shown to have at least a moderate effect on depression are omega-3 fatty acids, which already have many other beneficial uses such as helping to reduce triglycerides in your bloodstream, protecting you from heart attacks. Research into omega-3s has also found that they have a surprising effect on people diagnosed with depression – it helps to manage and lessen their symptoms in many cases.
While the reason omega-3 fatty acids seem to help combat depression in some cases isn’t clear, taking a daily regimen of fish oil supplements never hurt anyone. In fact, with the myriad health benefits of omega-3s, which are considered safe and without any side effects, it’s a good idea to take them even if you’re not suffering from depression.
Depression, a serious and even life-threatening illness if gone untreated, can have any number of causes besides those listed here. Some can be situational, such as being fired from your job, losing a loved one, or some other tragedy or calamity, while other causes are more amorphous and esoteric, like simply having a genetic predisposition; sometimes there’s no way for sure to know why someone develops depression, but what’s important to keep in mind is that in many cases, learning what triggers depression can help recover from depressive episodes and aid in preventing new ones in the future.