Depression is fairly common and affects about one in ten people at some point during their life. Although it can affect both men and women, young and old, rates of depression and anxiety have increased in the past years, especially among young people. A new research in the UK has shown for instance that one in four young women aged between 16 and 24 struggle with anxiety and depression. Depression continues to escalate despite more than half a century of modern psychopharmacology, with billions of pounds spent on antidepressants annually world-wide.
What is depression?
Some people think depression is not a genuine health condition and is just a sign of weakness. However, that’s not the case. Depression is much more than simply feeling unhappy for a few days.
Depression is a mental disorder which involves changes in the brain’s chemistry and cause people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth among other symptoms.
Symptoms of depression
Depression’s symptoms are different from just feeling down or sad. Depression doesn't just affect the mind, it also affects the body. The most common symptoms of depression are persistent for weeks or months and include:
- Persistent sad feelings;
- Persistent anxious feelings;
- Disturbed sleep;
- Disturbed appetite (overeating or appetite loss);
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism;
- Low energy, fatigue;
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness;
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, digestive problems;
- Poor concentration;
- Thoughts of suicide.
Furthermore, when people feel depressed, they often stop being as active as they would usually be, and spend less time socialising with their friends or engaging in their hobbies.
The symptoms can range from mild to severe. At its mildest, people may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make someone feel suicidal. A low mood may improve after a short period of time, rather than being a sign of depression.
Causes of depression
There's no single cause of depression. It can occur for a variety of reasons but people can also become depressed for no obvious reason.
Sometimes there are different triggers such as life-changing events which can bring it on. Below are some examples:
- Losing a job;
- Having a baby;
- Money worries;
- Traumatic experiences;
- Abuse of alcohol and drugs.
People with a family history of depression are also more likely to experience depression themselves.
Researches also reference a number of factors potentially causing the increase in depression cases, including the stress at school or university and the intense need to look “perfect” thanks to the pressure from social media.
The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery from depression.
The treatment will depend on the severity of the disorder. Mild depression can be treated by applying some lifestyle changes such as exercise and self-help groups.
For moderate to severe depression, standard care is prescription drugs that are laden with side effects. For many patients, the effectiveness of these drugs can also diminish over the course of treatment.
Many patients who take antidepressants experience at least one of the numerous potential side effects such as anxiety, thoughts of suicide, insomnia and weight gain. Some patients do not even respond at all to antidepressants and others fail to achieve complete remission. Therefore, scientists have been seeking safer and effective alternatives to pharmaceutical medications.
While you should always, always contact your doctor before attempting to treat depression, there is good news out there for people who are looking for natural ways to combat depression.
Studies have found that a specialised complex of turmeric can fight the crippling effects of depression without the cost and dangerous side effects of most prescription drugs. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may be as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in treating depression.
Turmeric for treating depression
Turmeric is a rhizome, cousin of ginger, with a long history of use in herbal remedies, particularly in Asian countries. Turmeric is the main ingredient in the famous Indian curry. Many studies prove that the curcumin in turmeric can treat a whole host of health problems. It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal.
Curcumin shows great potential as a natural antidepressant. It is believed to work by increasing two key neurotransmitters linked to depression, serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings of happiness, curbing depression and anxiety, and increasing overall emotional well-being.
Studies indicate that the effectiveness of curcumin stems from its ability to inhibit monoamine oxidase, an enzyme which is linked to depression if found in the brain in high levels.
A study from the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center found that the curcumin in turmeric enhances the synthesis of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from its precursor, α-linolenic acid (ALA). Dietary deficiency of DHA is linked to the neuropathology of several cognitive disorders, including anxiety. DHA is typically lacking in the modern Western Diet because the primary source is fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, and tuna.
Another way curcumin may impact depression is by reducing brain inflammation. Turmeric is a reactive oxygen scavenger, meaning that it turns on antioxidant producing genes and inhibits inflammatory enzymes. Inflammation leads to changes in the brain’s ability to properly regulate hormones (adrenal, thyroid), and to changes in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, as well as to changes in plasticity or the ability to regenerate brain cells.
There is also research into curcumin’s ability to balance out “leaky gut” issues, and since many physical and mental issues can stem from an uneven digestion, balancing the gut flora can help with overall health.
Finally, curcumin contains none of the side effects associated with commonly used drugs for treating depression.
Turmeric, is widely available as a nutritional supplement. The best way to make sure you’re getting all the benefits from turmeric is to take it with black pepper, which helps enhance its bioavailability. Take a look at our blog, we share easy and tasty recipes using turmeric.
Your can buy Superfood World Organic Turmeric powder here