What Is Depression?

The American Psychiatric Association has created a text called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) in their attempt to define and classify depressive disorders. Many psychiatrists and addiction specialists who specialize in psychological disorders do not agree with all of the definitions or classifications in the DSM IV, however.

As stated in the DSM IV, depression is defined as persistent sadness, which lasts two or more weeks and interferes with daily life and normal functioning. Major depressive disorder is the technical term for this type of depression, which is diagnosed by the following specific criteria:

  • Depressed mood (irritable mood in children and adolescents) most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective account or observation by others
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain when not dieting, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day (in children, consider failure to make expected weight gains)
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day

The DSM IV lists two major types of depression–melancholic depression and atypical depression. Neurotransmitter testing may provide deeper insights for treatment protocols.

Melancholic Depression

The deep limbic system – the brain’s emotional center – is saturated with GABA neurons, named for the potent calming brain chemical GABA that activates them. The brain chemicals serotonin and taurine are also considered calming because they enhance the ability of GABA to activate GABA brain receptors. Calming in the brain means decreased electrical stimulation—turning down the voltage. It is important for the GABA nerves in the emotional center to be activated in order to feel emotionally calm and peaceful. With serotonin and taurine deficiency and subsequent decreased GABA activity, the deep limbic system becomes over-electrified and, subsequently, a person commonly experiences symptoms of depression.

Serotonin also inhibits the activity of two stimulating brain chemicals, dopamine and histamine. Both dopamine and histamine activate the same dopamine receptors in the brain. They turn up the voltage in the brain overall. With substantial serotonin activity, the brain experiences over-stimulation. With knowledge of brain physiology, it is possible to understand yet another mechanism by which serotonin deficiency can result in an overactive deep limbic system and symptoms of depression.

Atypical Depression

There are indications in current research that the majority of patients with atypical depression suffer from an inherited brain disorder called reward deficiency syndrome (RDS). Since 1990, researchers led by Dr. Kenneth Blum have been gathering data to explain RDS. Today, it is known that their underactive pleasure center is derived from a particular gene. This gene produces a deficiency of dopamine D2 receptors, the so-called “happy receptors” in the brain’s pleasure center.

The reward circuitry in this region of the brain controls a person’s ability to experience pleasure and enjoy good things. When dopamine activates the specific “happy” receptor in the brain, pleasure is experienced. Patients with RDS experience less activity in their brain’s pleasure center than normal people, even when they produce normal levels of dopamine. Many of these patients are prescribed serotonin enhancing medications (SSRIs), which actually exacerbate their depression. Unknowing psychiatrists frequently misdiagnose these patients.

What Causes Depression?

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Melancholic Depression

Symptoms of melancholic depression are described in the psychiatric community as:

  • Lost reactivity to events
  • Insomnia
  • Dread about the future
  • Weight loss
  • Decrease in appetitie
  • Excessive guilt
  • Anxiet
  • Worsening of depression in the morning

Atypical Depression

While it is difficult to work within the arbitrary constraints of the DSM IV manual, the symptoms as described for atypical depression are as follows:

  • Fatigue
  • Social avoidance
  • Lethargy
  • Sensitivity to rejection
  • Excessive sleep
  • Increase in appetite
  • Disconnectedness
  • Weight gain
  • Emotional response to events
  • Worsening of depression at night

These symptoms are, for the most part, caused by an underactive reward or pleasure center. These individuals are unable to feel the so-called “dopamine hit” in their pleasure center that most people experience when they hug a five-month-old baby or a wriggly puppy. They often admit, behind closed doors, that when growing up, they just didn’t get as excited as their sisters or brothers when they got a new bicycle.

These patients may appear to be “just a quart low” on happiness and not outwardly depressed. They frequently lack motivation because motivation is somewhat dependent on dopamine activity in the reward center. They often appear lethargic and fatigued. They frequently have great difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Their mothers will remember waking them three or four times in the morning, and that getting them to school on time was a struggle.


Brenda’s Better Way To Deal With Depression

Brenda Watson Gut VItal Flora Probiotics

Depression is another one of those conditions that traditional doctors like to throw antidepressants at. In fact, you may be reading this information because a doctor told you that certain symptoms you have are “all in your head,” even if you know you aren’t depressed. You may actually have another condition that most traditional doctors do not know how to treat correctly. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Candida overgrowth, or multiple chemical sensitivity, each of which can trigger depression. Learning more about them may help you to uncover factors that are fueling your depression.

I truly believe that healing depression more times than not begins in the gut since so many digestive issues can trigger inflammation and nutrient deficiencies which can affect your mood. Building a healthy gut is the first step in building the foundation of your health. If symptoms persist it will then be helpful to find a doctor who is knowledgeable and open to balancing the brain chemistry by using neurotransmitter testing and hormone testing to get to the bottom of your condition. The following recommendations will help you on your journey.

Testing

  • Comprehensive stool analysis (CSA)
  • Food sensitivity test
  • Neurotransmitter profile
  • Hormone test

Diet

  • Follow the Skinny Gut Diet eating plan
  • If Candida overgrowth is present, follow the Get Lean Phase of the Skinny Gut Diet Eating Plan.
  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and poultry in the diet to help prevent anxiety.
  • To avoid toxins in foods, eat organic foods whenever possible.
  • Reduce consumption of saturated fat and eliminate trans fats from the diet.

Lifestyle

  • Regular physical activity can help to improve mood by releasing endorphins
  • If overweight, lose weight, especially if abdominal fat is present.
  • Reduce toxin exposure.
  • Get adequate sleep because lack of sleep can adversely affect mood.

Therapies

  • Stress reduction therapies such as yoga, biofeedback, massage, and meditation can be helpful to relieve stress
  • Acupuncture may be helpful for people with depression.
  • Colon hydrotherapy is beneficial to remove toxins.
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