Searches for solutions to depression are all too often assumed to lie in the emotional realm. That's because depression was considered to be an emotionally-generated symptom, so the assumption was that it would be resolved through the emotional realm. That's why it was addressed with counseling or therapy - often years of it, and that's why physical issues were typically overlooked or put aside.
Then it was considered to be 'all in your head' due to a chemical imbalance in your brain such as a serotonin deficiency, or a disturbance in serotonin metabolism. That's why it was addressed with anti-depressant medications that affected serotonin levels in your brain.
But that can be a big mistake, because sometimes it's not just 'all in your head.' Here are twelve physical conditions that can give rise to depression symptoms. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, be sure to check out all of these conditions in looking for a solution.
What is depression?
Depression is an emotional symptom, often seen in a negative attitude, low mood and loss of interest in people and things that are normally of interest. It may even involve feelings of guilt, low self-worth, having low energy, poor concentration, disturbances in ability to sleep, disordered appetite. The feelings of sadness, despair and discouragement can be profound.
All these emotional symptoms are the main reason depression is usually approached as having emotional origins that require emotional approaches - psychotherapy, counseling and/ or treatment with anti-depressive drugs.
But here's the thing: contrary to what we usually assume, depression, more often than not, has its origins in physical problems. This means that these emotional symptoms are resolved by
addressing the physical issue(s). Below is a summary of the prevalence of this symptom along with a list of the most common sources of what can only appears to be an emotional issue. If you or someone you know gets depressed, be sure to get these physical conditions checked out!
Who gets depressed?
Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide. In the United States, it's estimated that in any given year depressive disorders are estimated to affect approximately 18.8 million American adults, or about 9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 and older.
In terms of gender, depression affects both sexes. Unfortunately, depression has had a reputation of being a women's condition, but this is incorrect. Actually more than 6 million men in the U.S. have depression each year. The symptoms of depression in men are similar to the symptoms of depression in women. But men tend to express those symptoms differently.
How do men and women express depression differently?
In women, depression may be more likely to cause feelings of sadness and worthlessness. Depression in men, on the other hand, may be more likely to cause them to be irritable, aggressive, or hostile.
Either way, the depressed person is suffering, and those around them suffer as well. Therefore, adopting an immediate, problem-solving attitude is essential. Everyone - the depressed person, family, friends, co-workers - benefits by this 'let's get this resolved' approach. Be sure to check out every one of these physically-generated causes of depression:
1. Low thyroid (T1 or T4):
Revealed by a blood test or muscle testing, this symptom can often turn around by increasing dietary intake or even supplementing with iodine along with removing all sources of exposure to fluoride, including fluoridated drinking water, toothpaste and dental sealants. Fluoride knocks iodine out of the thyroid, causing low thyroid functioning and thus leads directly to depression.
2. Low adrenals.
In the go-go modern world where people are stretched to capacity and beyond, adrenal glands get overworked constantly. Like anything else, they can only take so much, and then they start to give out. The result is low energy, low motivation and, guess what - depression!
Various stress-reduction and stress-management techniques in combination with direct support of adrenal glands with herbs often reverse this. Two of the herbs adrenal glands 'like' the most are Ashwaganda and Licorice. (However, don't take Licorice long term if you have high blood pressure.)
3. Sex hormone imbalances.
Whether in men or women, sex hormones that are out of balance are major contributors to symptoms of depression. Therefore it's always worth it to get the levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone (for both men and women) checked. If any are too high
or too low, they can cause depression.
4. Food intolerances.
Time and time again, I've seen this as a top physical cause of depression in my clients. And the biggest food intolerance of them all is wheat, followed only by lactose and then gluten. In fact, various experts estimate that 30-50% of people are gluten intolerant, while the incidence of lactose intolerance varies by race from about 5% of the population in far Northern Europeans to 95% in native African ones.
The solution is to omit these from the diet and allow the body to detox what remains - a process that takes some time. Various authors have noted that the symptoms of manic depression (bipolar disorder) and the symptoms of gluten intolerance are exactly the same, making this a crucial factor to check when depression symptoms occur.
5. Toxic metals.
Modern people are exposed to toxic metals from the dental substances in their mouths, from drinking water, food, air and more. A toxic metal body burden can produce very deep-seated and profound depression - absolute hopelessness and despair.
This is also true during a metals detoxification process, which is why it's always essential to undertake even the diagnosis of toxic metals under the guidance of a skilled and experienced
professional. The good news is that the depression flushes right out with the metals.
6. Toxic chemicals.
These are everywhere now in the modern world. Estimates say that each individual is exposed to some 100,000 with more added daily.
A quiet study was conducted in which surgeons were asked to remove a small piece of fat from each patient while conducting the operation. These were then sent in to a central laboratory and tested for chemicals. The fat sample with the lowest number listed well over 200 toxic chemicals! For some reason the results of this study never made the headlines.
Many of these cause depression by mimicking sex hormones, where they get into the cell receptors the body's own sex hormones should be regulating.
Just as with toxic chemicals, the services of a competent and skilled practitioner are required to detox these chemicals safely and effectively, and again, any depressive symptoms they cause disappear right along with the chemicals.
7. Infectious agents.
A great variety of infectious agents exist in the world, Among the most common forms are bacteria, viruses, yeast, molds, worms, parasites and spirochetes.
We all know what it feels like to be under the effect of these in acute situations like getting the flu for example - a depressing enough circumstance. But we can also be affected by chronic,
low-grade infections our bodies continue to fight without our ever realizing it. These wear us down, use up our resources, make us chronically tired, vulnerable to other bugs besides the ones we've been fighting.
The ways to discover their presence can be as varied as the bugs themselves, ranging from blood tests to stool samples to muscle tests. For anyone with chronic depression symptoms, thinking "chronic low-grade infection (or infections)" can be a productive route to address.
This is a condition of low red blood cells. No matter what the reason, the body cells, including the brain, don't get enough oxygen when there are too few red blood cells (RBC's) This can produce depression.
Anemia can result from loss of blood, from lack of iron in the diet, from lack of absorption of iron, from stomach ulcers, medications, colon cancer, trauma or B vitamin deficiency (see #9).
9. B vitamin deficiency.
There are many B vitamins we need for proper brain and nervous system functioning. Some of the more prominent ones in this regard include vitamin B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B6 and especially B 12 and folate. Since we don't manufacture them, we require daily dietary intake to maintain healthy levels and stay out of depression.
And we also need to diminish or entirely avoid substances that strip our bodies of these essential nutrients, including refined sugars, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
In many instances, what has appeared to be intractable depression is completely turned around by adequate intake of natural sources of vitamin B such as those in nutritional yeast, for example.
But don't take synthetic B vitamins - these damage the peripheral nerve plates - those tiny little nerves at the far edges of our bodies that feed back information about what's going on there to our brains so they can make adjustments.
10.Low blood sugar.
This condition causes depression in a manner similar to that of anemia, only in this instance the problem is not getting enough oxygen to the brain, but getting enough blood sugar to the brain. Physical problems such as diabetes, syndrome X (also called metabolic syndrome) can produce this symptom if not properly managed. Many people report their depression entirely resolved by supplementing with Inositol - another B vitamin.
11. Poor blood circulation.
Blockages, weaknesses or cramping in arteries negatively affect blood circulation and can result in depression for the same reason anemia does - not enough oxygen to the brain.
Where blockages exist, they can often be cleared by taking a proteolytic enzyme such as bromelain (from pineapples) on an empty stomach.
Blood vessel weaknesses are often strengthened by bioflavonoids. A rich food source of some kinds is found in the white membrane inside citrus peels, while the blue and purple range of fruits - blueberries, raspberries, grapes, bilberries - provides others.
12. Prescription drugs.
Last, these are becoming a greater and greater contributor to the incidence of depression, even as more and more drugs are created to treat depression.
Therefore a careful review of any and all prescription drugs is called for when anyone suffers from depression.
And that review should include not just the drug, but all ingredients the product contains, including fillers and excipients. Two of the most common ones found in modern drugs - especially generic ones - are wheat and lactose... and these are two of the major contributors to food intolerance-generated depression.
It's always worth it to ask your pharmacist if any of the prescriptions you've filled can cause depression. For an online list of such drugs, search under 'medications that cause depression.'
Of course, there's every reason to combine the positive effects of eliminating these dirty dozen physical depression-makers with the benefits of counseling or therapy.
As many of my colleagues emphasize, in this modern world, everybody deserves therapy!