So, what is depression?  Depression is a feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy.  The causes of depression can be hard to nail down.  It can be caused by any reason that brings that sends the mind in a negative direction.  Events like a spouse or close friend leaving, sickness in your own or a close one’s life, financial problems, loss of a job, or even just a hormone problem. 

Depression will first hamper, then stop any sign of positive thinking.  It sends the mind spiraling down, and leave the depressed person numb inside.  A depressed person will slow down at work, will have a hard time enjoying almost anything, and may start to avoid family and friends.  The person remains in a negative state, and this can affect the person physically, releasing chemicals into the body.  The person will seem to suffer from fatigue and may think they are being affected by illness of one kind or another. Other symptoms and signs may be weight loss, difficulty thinking, feeling worthless and overeating. 

Depression affects about 15% of the world and more than twelve million Americans are diagnosed with depression every year.  More than 60% of suicides can be linked to depression, and only about a third of those needing treatment ever receive it.

There are many natural remedies that can be tried to combat the problem of depression.  Limiting sugar in all forms, like candy, soda, and baked goods, can help.  The eating of the sugar creates a false high, but after the sugar leaves the blood, the mood will probably crash even further than it was.  Keeping the blood sugar steady is the best defense.  The same thing happens with caffeine and alcohol, so strictly limiting or eliminating these is best.  Foods that raise serotonin levels, such as nuts, green vegetables and some fish are the most beneficial.  These will trigger a good mood without the plunge after. 

Starting a regular regimen of exercise can help to combat depression.  The affected person should tart a regular program, and tell themselves that they are going to stick to it, no matter what their mood.  They will probably not want to exercise when they are feeling depressed, but may be able to force themselves to get out if they scheduled the session ahead of time.

Depression can also occur because of the season.  In winter, with shortened days and less light, some people suffer from winter depression.  This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  Symptoms include quick temper, listlessness, and a general feeling of sickness.  There suffering person may feel there are suffering from a low-grade illness, and be affected by physically and emotionally.

People who realize they are suffering from SAD do not need to just put up with it.  Studies have been found that if the patient may be more sensitive to light that the general public. 

Some thoughts are that the lack of light results in a slowdown of production of serotonin and dopamine, and that affects their mood.  Others think the lack of light affects the patient’s circadian rhythms.  So the patient feels they are not getting enough sleep, and so are always tired.

Whichever version of SAD you affected with, try increasing the amount of light you getting when indoors.  Brighten up the rooms you spend the most time in.

If possible, depression needs to be identified and treated as soon as possible.  Mild cases of depression will often respond to natural remedies.  Instituting routine habits of diet, exercise, and travel will help to stave off times of depression and help to recover when being affected. 

Feelings of gratitude often help also.  Try starting a scrapbook of lists of things you are grateful for.  Make a list of 10 things.  Put it in the book.  When you are starting to feel negative, read your list, and add to it.  Be sure to include big things like family, but include small things also, like the bird chirping outside your window in the morning.  The more a person dwells on the positive items, the more positive feeling it will engender and the depression will be fought off.

Even with instituting  these defenses against depression, medicine and/or therapy may be needed.  Depression is a disease like any other.  Knowing the causes of depression can help you do pay closer attention to when it might occur.  When others ask, “What is depression?” help them to understand.  Do not be afraid to go to the doctor for help.