Depression tends to be generic term for a plethora of symptoms and an intense degree of severity. Depression is a mental health illness that impacts the way you feel and the way you think and act. Depression has deep roots into not only our minds, but our bodies as well. Depression can cause overwhelming feelings of sadness and can also include a loss of interest in the things you once enjoyed.

Depression can range from mild to severe and can include all different types of symptoms such as: feeling sad, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, change in appetite, change in sleep patterns, increased levels of fatigue, feeling worthless or having extreme feelings of guilt, challenges with concentration, and even thoughts about death and suicide. While this list is relatively complete, there could be additional symptoms that are not listed. People who struggle with depression could have some or all of the listed symptoms.

Causes of depression also include a wide range. This time of year, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, many people struggle with seasonal depression. It is pretty common for people in the PNW, or other cloudy and rainy parts of the world, to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to offer people a higher risk of depression or depressive symptoms. Recent research has shown a connection between vitamin D and serotonin and melatonin regulation which, in turn, would support mental health and sleep patterns.

Serotonin is a happy chemical released by the neurotransmitters in the brain, more serotonin can increase mood, less can cause depression. Recent research conducted by Harvard Medical School (2022), has shown that depression is not just caused by an insufficiency of chemicals in the brain, but more in-depth reasons as well. Research shows that although the chemical makeup of the brain is responsible for our mood, there are also genetics and lifestyle choices that impact the depressive symptoms we face. Also, the nerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the impact of the functions of the nerve circuits can impact depression (Harvard Medical School, 2022).

What does that all mean? Findings have shown that the hippocampus in depression people tends to be smaller than the hippocampus in non-depressed people due to the neuron production in the hippocampus being stifled by stress. Thus, stating that when we are depressed, the neurons and cell production is slowed down, and when we change our lifestyle, or start taking medication, the production increases over time and the depression symptoms start to reduce. Their findings suggested that due to this increase in cells over several weeks could show why it takes several weeks for antidepression medications to be effective. Fascinating! 

Feeling depressed? If you are feeling depressed or experiencing ongoing depression symptoms it is recommended to get a physical from your medical provider to start. Depression and thyroid concerns usually exhibit the same symptoms, so it is best to rule out any other possibilities. After you see a medical professional for the physical part, it is time to find a mental health professional. Studies show that 80-90% of people who seek mental health support for their depression show an increase in mood and a decrease in symptoms. There are many different depression counseling options for depression, cognitive therapy, music therapy, EMDR, the list goes on. Also, your mental health professional might suggest medication for your depression. Medications for depression are a great tool but can take a few weeks to begin making an impact. If you are experiencing depression symptoms, even if it is just seasonally, please reach out to a medical professional today.