Healing Path, Inc.

Finding Balance
Chapter 2.12 - Depression

In this chapter, Dr. Donache presents Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the prevention and treatment of depression.

The chapter includes an overview of the disease's symptoms, conventional treatment methods, and alternative therapies, including Bio-Energetic therapies, Bodywork and Movement therapies, and Mental / Emotional treatments.

This chapter is taken from Dr. Donache's upcoming book, Finding Balance - Integrating Complementary/Alternative Medical (C.A.M.) Therapies for the Prevention of the Top 30 Diseases in America. Each section of chapter 2, which describes alternative treatments for each of the top diseases, is available as a download on this website.

Table of Contents
Chapter Excerpt
Glossary of Terms Used in this Chapter
Additional Disease Descriptions and Treatments Available for Download

Table of Contents

      • Antidepressants
      • Psychotherapy
      • Issues and Answers
      • Nutrition and Supplements
        • Nutrition
        • Supplements
        • Enzymatic Therapies
      • Rainforest and Western Herbs
        • Rainforest Herbs
        • Western Herbs
      • Homeopathic Remedies
      • Essential Oils
      • Therapeutic Bodywork and Massage
      • Traditional Chinese Medicine
      • Hatha Yoga Postures
      • Meditation
      • Visualization
      • Affirmation

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Chapter Excerpt

It is estimated that one in eight people will become clinically depressed at some point in their life. It affects an estimated 11 million Americans every year and is on the rise. It is twice as common in women as in men.

Depression can be a serious disorder that requires medical care. It's not a matter of will or a weakness, but a psychological condition that can be treated. It is a whole-body illness - it involves the body, nervous system, moods, thoughts, and behavior. It affects the way you feel about yourself, and the way you react to and think about the people and things around you. Signs and symptoms of depression include: loss of interest in things you used to enjoy; feeling sad for longer than 2 weeks; lack of appetite or overeating; insomnia or sleeping more than usual; aches and pains; lack of energy or feeling restless; loss of sexual desire; trouble concentrating or making decisions; feelings of worthlessness, guilt or even thoughts of death or suicide. Symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. There are many types of depression, with variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.

People with depression typically withdraw and hide from society. They lose interest in things around them and become incapable of experiencing pleasure. Things appear bleak and time seems to pass slowly. Some try to "sleep off" depression, or do nothing but sit or lie around. Two major classifications of depressive disorders are unipolar and bipolar. Unipolar disorders are characterized by depressive episodes that most often recur at least several times in the course of a person's life. Bipolar disorders usually begin as depression, but as they progress, they involve alternating episodes of depression and mania. As a result, bipolar depression is commonly known as manic depression. Perhaps the most common type of depression is chronic low-grade depression called dysthymia. This condition involves long-term and/or recurring depressive symptoms that are not necessarily disabling but keep a person from functioning normally and interfere with social interactions and enjoyment of life. Research has found that this type of depression often results from (unconscious) negative thinking habits. Double depression is a variation of dysthymia in which a person with chronic, low-grade depression periodically experiences major depressive episodes, then returns to his or her "normal" mildly depressed state.

It is not yet clear to scientists exactly what causes depression as it is not fully understood, but they are probably many and varied. It may be triggered by tension, stress, a traumatic life event, chemical imbalances in the brain, thyroid disorders, upset stomach, headache, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, the consumption of sugar and simple carbohydrates, junk foods, lack of exercise, mononucleosis, endometriosis, and any serious physical disorder. For most people there are several factors such as: inherited susceptibility--having a relative with depression appears to increase the risk; lack of supportive relationships; certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem; stress -- loss of a spouse or job.

In up to 50% of people suffering from recurrent episodes of depression, one or both parents also experienced depression. Whatever the factors that trigger it, depression begins with a disturbance in the part of the brain that governs moods. When stress is too great for a person, his or her adjustment mechanism is unresponsive - depression is triggered.

Depression may be the result of changes in the chemical communication system that connects the nerve cells, or neurons, in your brain with each other. Neurons communicate by electrical signals and chemicals. A gap separates two neurons. Electrical signals carry a message along each neuron. Chemicals called neurotransmitters carry the message across the gap. The electrical signal prompts the neuron to release neurotransmitters. Normally, the neurotransmitters dock at receptor sites on the neighboring nerve cell and ignite the electrical signal in that neuron. After the signal is delivered, the neurotransmitters float back to the neuron that sent them. This process is called reuptake. In depression this communication system between the nerve cells can malfunction. Communication between nerves can break down, for example, because of a lack of certain neurotransmitters or because they fail to dock at their specific sites.

These brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters regulate our behavior. They are controlled by what we eat, and neurotransmitters are closely linked to mood. Foods greatly influence the brain's behavior and a poor diet, especially constant snacking on junk foods, is a common cause of depression. The neurotransmitters most commonly associated with mood are dopamine, serotonin, and norephinephrine. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased. When it produces dopamine or norepinephrine, we tend to think and act more quickly and generally more alert.

New research techniques allow scientists to see changes in the chemistry of the brain and learn more about conditions like depression. It may be possible to diagnose depression by using a computerized tomography (CT) scan to measure a person's adrenal glands. Researchers at Duke University found that people suffering from clinical depression have larger adrenal glands than nondepressed people. In one study, people suffering from depression were found to have lower than normal levels of folic acid in their blood than nondepressed individuals. Additionally, food allergies may cause or contribute to depression. Other studies have shown that zinc levels tend to be significantly lower than normal when people suffer from depression. You should also have a hair and/or BioEnergetic Medical analysis to rule out heavy metal intoxication. Your health care professional may refer you to a dietician, naturopathic doctor or allergist to make these determinations.

You may be referred to a mental health professional such as a: psychiatrist; psychologist; or social worker. Experts say it's a good idea to tell people close to you about your illness. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with family members and friends gives them a better chance to help in the recovery process. Thoughts about harming yourself--even about suicide--should prompt you to see a health professional without delay. Remember, you are not crazy. You may be feeling the real symptoms of a real medical problem, one that can be relieved with the appropriate treatment.

Depression is usually treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Drugs called antidepressants can help reestablish the normal path of communication in the brain. Depression can be effectively treated by several types of psychotherapy: Cognitive therapy; Behavioral therapy; Interpersonal therapy and group therapy.

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Glossary of Terms

Behavioral Therapy
Psychotherapy that focuses on changing an observable destructive behavior.
Cognitive Therapy
Psychotherapy that identifies negative thinking patterns and helps patients overcome them.
A mental illness characterized by intense feelings of sadness that do not improve with time; people who are depressed may also have problems associated with eating, sleeping, pains and other symptoms.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy that focuses on working to improve relationships with people close to you.
A chemical that carries a message from one nerve cell to another.
PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Scan
A brain scan used in research to study various chemical activity levels in the brain.
A physician (MD or DO) who diagnoses and treats patients with mental disorders; must complete an internship and residency program in order to be licensed and may be certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; can prescribe medications.
A mental health professional who has a PhD or PsyD; state licensing requirements vary but usually include completing an internship program in a mental health facility, supervised clinical work and passing a national examination.
A general term that refers to psychological treatment by a mental health professional.
The process that involves return of neurotransmitters to the nerve cell that sent them.
Social Worker
Has a master's or doctoral degree in social work (MSW or DSW); most states have licensing procedures that require completion of 2 years of supervised work after earning the degree and satisfactory performance on a state examination.

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