As with most forms of depression, women are known to be more at risk for depression. One of the milder forms of depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is possibly by a Vitamin D deficiency, but SAD is more associated with living where there is little light or overcast. Symptoms include weight gain, sluggishness, and a general feeling of being tired often. These symptoms parallel those of menstruation, but there’s a distinct difference. SAD is something that persists over a longer period of time, even a season.
According to A. Mitchell, a student at IMSA, SAD feels like a ‘blue fog’ or haze. Often referred to as ‘the blues’ or ‘winter blues,’ SAD many times goes untreated. Some treatments are the consumption of Vitamin D pills, which can be obtained over the counter, and also, the use of light boxes, or therapy lamps.
According to the The Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 1 in 10 U.S. adults reported having depression. Depression is categorized as a mental illness, and is caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. Genetics does play a role, however. If there is someone in your immediate family with depression, odds are that you can develop it as well. Symptoms of depression and chronic depression involve a general feeling of helplessness, difficulty sleeping, lethargy, negative thoughts, inability to maintain a balanced diet,irritability, and grim thoughts that border on suicidal.
From a pharmacological perspective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or commonly called SSRIs, have been used to treat depression, as well as lithium, which is a little outdated. Popular antidepressants include: Celexa, Cymbalta, Zoloft, Effexor, Pristiq and Xanax. Drug therapy is more dangerous because everyone responds differently to drugs, and adverse side effects can occur. Seeing a psychologist regularly can be just as effective depending on the extremity of the case. Exercise is also treatment because it produces endorphins, also known as “those things that make you feel good.”
No matter what you choose, just make sure it’s right for you. Know your body, know your mind, and most of all, get a second or third opinion. For some of us, it’s difficult to open up about a problem we may have, but it’s even more daunting to face the opinions of professionals. It’s important to know that you do not have to treat a doctor’s diagnosis like a fated edict.
Another form of depression, postpartum depression, most often occurs in women after childbirth and is known to affect around 13 percent of new mothers, according to www.womenshealth.gov.
The Elsevier Journal of Affective Disorders provides an article that displays a strong association between the percent of omega-3 fatty acids in a mother’s milk and her likelihood to develop postpartum depression. Looking at the chart, it’s shown that the rate of postpartum depression is lower in countries where on average, women’s milk contains more omega-3 fatty acids. Eating healthy and exercising, again, is a good way to avoid developing depression.
Some common symptoms associated with postpartum depression are: feeling overwhelmed, tiredness, low self-esteem, anxiety over motherly duties, stress and a sense of having less time to one’s self. Talk therapy, which involves speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist, regularly and drug therapy have been proven to diminish or even eliminate with symptoms. But, it’s important in all of these cases to know the difference between simply feeling down and actually having a disorder.
If you believe you have symptoms of depression, you should consider speaking to a therapist about how to handle your struggles. If someone reveals to you that he or she has depression, take into consideration that your words can have a serious impact. Never in brevity say to someone, “Kill yourself” if the person is in a dark place and expressing a desire to do commit suicide. I’ve found this kind of crude insensitivity on bathroom stalls recently around campus, and this is a huge problem for a nationally ranked school. At a school with so many resources and agencies, I think it’s a shame that people who really need help are going unnoticed.
Just remember; always call a hotline for help if you feel that you are in dire need of a talk (they’re free):
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide Prevention Services Depression Hotline: 630-482-9696
Counseling Center/Student Affairs UIUC
110 Fred. H. Turner Student Services Building
610 E. John St., Champaign, 61820