Why am I Depressed?

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depressed-man

Have you been feeling depressed lately and you don’t know why?  Here are some ideas and other questions you can ask yourself to hopefully better understand what is going on.

Have I been getting enough exercise?

Exercise has powerful mood boosting effects and can possibly work to reduce the symptoms of depression.  Some studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants.  Make sure to get high intensity workouts.

Am I eating well?

You may not realize it, but it is very likely that your diet plays a big role in how you feel.  Eating unhealthy, fast foods all the times can take a toll, and starting to eat more fruits and vegetables as well as a better diet might make you feel better.

Is my diet providing me with enough nutrients?

Beyond just getting enough calories, does your diet provide you with a balanced amount of nutrients?

Have I recently had a breakup?

After a relationship ends, it is only natural to feel unhappy or depressed for some time.  So some unhappiness is normal.  It’s when it persists for too long or is too severe that there is a problem.

What activities do I enjoy doing most?

What is something you do that, when you do it, time just seems to go by?  That you really enjoy or that doing makes you happy?

Whatever the answer, it’s likely that doing more of that might make you somewhat happier.  It doesn’t have to be that dramatic an activity – some people just feel better after cooking or gardening.

Do I find my work meaningful?

Most people spend a lot of time at work.  Having a job which is not so fulfilling or that you find boring can lead to frustration.  Try to find ways to make your work more enjoyable, or take on more responsibility in an area you are more passionate about.

What can I do to get more meaning in my life?

There are many ways to add variety, excitement and energy to your life.  Consider getting involved by volunteering.  Spending some time say, in a soup kitchen, will help give you perspective and make you feel good about yourself.

Not to mention that you’ll meet some awesome new people.

How are my relations with the family?

We sometimes forget how important family can be.  When is the last time you had a good conversation with a family member?  Or have you had a fight and things are still a bit rough?

Maybe take the time to reconnect or smooth over a past conflict.  Our families can be an amazing support system.

Do I get enough sunlight?

Some people get depressed when they don’t get enough exposure to sunlight.  Seasonal affective disorder, for instance, where people get depressed in the winter, is hypothesized to in part be due to less sun exposure.

Of course, you have to remember that exposure to sun also increases your risk of skin cancer.

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Pharmaceutical analyst who loves blogging about health and medical issues. Has written more than 150 articles and a book on attention deficit disorder. Correctly predicted delayed approval of Bydureon, approval of Provenge by FDA, and the non-approval of Acthar on June 11.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe this could help explain some depression. My girlfriend brought home a Harvard Health newsletter last week, and I found the article online:

    Depression research: An objective view of gloomy outlook

    […]As Dr. Tebartz van Elst and his colleagues point out in their paper, plenty of research has hinted at some sort of physiological connection between vision and depression. But one of the difficulties has been sorting out whether depression affects visual processing in the brain — a definite possibility — or whether the effect occurs further “upstream,” in the eye.[…]

    http://harvardpartnersinternational.staywellsolutionsonline.com/HealthNewsLetters/69,L0610e

    I couldn’t draw a conclusion as to whether retinal activity could be a cause or an effect. I would say that in my case, when watching movies with a lot of action, or a lot of detail, I can’t seem to follow things visually. I’m sure the directors of such movies would be disappointed that their art hasn’t been full absorbed by me. But anyway, although I’m nearsighted and wear glasses, I have the same problem when a reasonable distance from the tv or watching a show on the big screen. Car chases too actually often bore me. Many things happening and I don’t seem to be able to absorb it all visually. I don’t know if that has to do with retinas or not, but now that I got the thoughts out I can stop thinking about it and ponder the meaning of life (or death, depending on my mood).

  2. hey david! i see that you have deleted every comment i have made on any of your articles. thats ridiculous! and hilarious! you only 100% confirmed all of my observations. haha what a joke, not only were you too incompetent to address my serious inquiries and concerns on such a criticial subject, but you had to DELETE them for fear people would read them and agree! what a trivial little pursuit this is for you…. nothing more than some kid who has taken a couple of college classes and started a blog… haha… youre insecurity and lack of professionalism are a joke…..

    • Dear Amanda,

      There was a technical failure and I had to reload from a previous version. The site lost several weeks of data including your insightful and helpful comments.

      All the best,
      David

  3. Amanda and David, I hadn’t deleted my notification emails yet, so had your comments still intact. Not sure how the formatting will look though once I submit.

    Author: amanda
    Comment:
    DAVID you are an idiot! WOW!!!! you left out one reason- a CHEMICAL IMBALANCE!

    Author: David Gurevich
    Comment:
    Dear Amanda,

    Please show me one study that definitively shows that there is a chemical that can be measured and clearly linked to depression.

    That’s not to downplay the chemical cause of depression, of course, rather that it is complicated.

    All the best,
    David

    Author: amanda
    Comment:
    show me a study that “definitively” shows a breakup or a fight with your family can be clearly linked with depression then!! depression is a lot more then feeling sad for a day or two. you are obviously not a doctor and not qualified to be giving advice or information on this topic. i read your other article comparing zoloft and prozac, and it was pure GARBAGE. you should have a disclaimer in your articles stating that you are not an expert and your writing is pure opinion. ive had students turn in better papers than this- and i teach junior high! good day sir! = )

    Author: amanda
    Comment:
    oh and id love to see some research showing that fast food causes depression, while youre at it!

    Author: Amanda
    Comment:
    Andy alt- I really enjoyed reading your response. You seem to be very sympathetic and open minded, not to mention all too familiar with the never ending battle with depression that I myself am fighting day to day. I guess what it all comes down to is that I feel david Is passing this website off as something other than what it really s… It is nothing more than some college kids blog. A blog based on opinion. David has Bo college degree, and is no expert. People come to this site looking for help and guidance, looking for sound research from s qualified professional… And David is none of the above. The US copyright office has no record of David gurevich OR health and life. This entire website is nothing more than some undergraduate college students BLOG. It’s morally and ethically wrong that he presents it as anything otherwise. Also, after doing a who is search in this web domain, he has blocked all contact information, disabling the ability to easily confirm any credibility…..

    Author: Amanda
    Comment:
    Sorry for any typoes… Am typing on my phone… Also, David makes money off of this blog from advertisers… Every click on this college kids blog puts money in his pocket! I just hope and pray the the people that are fighting for their lives dealing with their depression take this guys articles with a grain of salt and find the help and guidance that they need and deserve.

  4. And here’s one of the comments I had left:

    The brain is the least understood organ in the body. How can science
    conclusively state that a chemical imbalance is a primary cause of depression?
    Let’s try using common sense and personal experience. Let’s forget about science
    for the moment; it doesn’t really seemed to have solved the problem, or even
    come close.

    In the past 18 years, I’ve seen 6 different psychiatrists. Not one has offered
    to do a test for a chemical imbalance, or said such a test exists.

    I have a fragile sense of self-esteem, am crtical and judgemental of myself and
    others, and generally focus on the negative without giving much regard to
    anything positive in my life. This can all be accounted for by the experiences
    I’ve had in my life, particularly my childhood, when most of my development took
    place. I don’t mean to say my resulting depression and negative attitude was
    inevitable; people deal with situations differently and I don’t believe
    having a “bad” childhood means having emotional and mental difficulties as an
    adult is guaranteed. I’m saying that anyone examining my past could easily see
    why I would have problems coping as an adult, and why I would tend to be a
    negative person.

    So could a chemical imbalance be causing my problems? Sure. The amount that bad
    chemicals contribute to negative thinking and depression is another question. So
    many external things can affect mood that I’m simply not interested in focusing
    on the brain chemical aspect. Doctors have told me I have a chemical imbalance,
    sure, but they didn’t do any tests to prove it. There’s no concrete evidence
    that my brain chemistry is causing me more problems than external factors, like
    the ones David mentioned.

    Even Forest Gump knew that nutrition can affect a person’s mood — that’s why he
    was so interested in boxes of chocolates. And I don’t need research or science
    to know I’m depressed when isolated from my family, or when my girlfriend and I
    don’t get as much quality time together, or when I don’t put has much effort
    into keeping up contact with my family and friends.

    David’s article was good that it pointed out things within a person’s control,
    not simply throwing up one’s hand and blaming it all on a chemical imbalance and
    popping pills without putting any effort into changing the things within one’s
    control.

    And the question still remains that if scientists have isolated these chemicals
    and the medications are effective, then why hasn’t the numnber of people with
    mental illness been significantly reduced? Millions of people on meds, billions
    of money made from them, but there doesn’t really seem to be a dent in the
    people who are suffering or disabled from mental illness. And if one stops
    seeing a doctor who has prescribes medication, he or she is not contacted for
    follow-up, to find out if you’re better, worse, or seeing someone else. How can
    accurate data be aggregated if no is asking questions after clinical trials
    end? The best indicator of the long-term effects of psych meds appears to be
    from lawsuits against pharmaceutical manufacturers.

    \”The number of prescriptions for anti-depressants hit a record high
    of more than 31 million in England in 2006 – even though official guidance
    stresses they should not be a first line treatment for mild depression.

    There were 16.2m prescriptions for SSRIs alone.

    The researchers found that the drugs did have a positive impact on people with
    mild depression – but the effect was no bigger than that achieved by giving
    patients a sugar-coated “dummy” pill.

    People with severe symptoms appeared to gain more clear-cut benefit – but this
    might be more down to the fact that they were less likely to respond to the
    placebo pill, rather than to respond positively to the drugs.”\

    Anti-depressants’
    ‘little effect’

    If a chemical imbalance is causing millions of folks to have unceasing
    depression, then shouldn’t there also be millions of folks who have unceasing
    happiness? The equivalent to severe depression but on the other end of the
    spectrum? Where are the millions who are so excessively happy all the time they
    aren’t able to function in society because their joy and elation prevents them
    from dealing with problems they need to address? Actually one fellow I talked
    to who had taken Prozac said he felt like he wouldn’t have been bothered if
    nuclear war broke out.

    I’ve been on many psych meds over the years and would consider trying some
    again hoping for cool side effects. I’ve had some of the bad side effects, and
    of course the withdrawal symptoms that happy accompany the physical dependency
    associated with them. But I’m mostly interested in any side effects that aren’t
    yet listed or known by the manufacturers: super powers would be nice, to have
    my chemistry altered like David (Bruce Banner), or something simpler and more
    benign, like Spider-man’s power to climb walls and be forewarned of danger.
    With a “spidey-sense” tingling before I took a pill, I would be alerted to side
    effects or physical dependency ahead of time.

    I will keep working at DBT, CBT, meditation, and other things that have proved
    to help my mood. If my brain chemistry is off, there’s not much I can do about
    that, so I won’t give it much consideration in trying to get better.

    \”In 1987, prior to Prozac hitting the market and the current
    ubiquitous use of antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs, the U.S. mental
    illness disability rate was 1 in every 184 Americans, but by 2007 the mental
    illness disability rate had more than doubled to 1 in every 76 Americans. Robert
    Whitaker was curious as to what was causing this dramatic increase in mental
    illness disability. The answers are in his new book, Anatomy of an Epidemic:
    Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in
    America (Crown Publishers, April 2010).\”

    http://www.mindfreedom.org/campaign/media/mf/salon-whitaker

    Minnesota Public Radio
    Antidepressants don’t work
    \”From the earth-shattering news that got no “play” file:
    “Antidepressants Hardly Help,” says Time Magazine.

    Researchers published their finding (in the journal PLoS Medicine), claiming
    patients “at the upper end of the very severely depressed category” experience
    benefit from drugs like Paxil, Efexor, and Prozac. For everyone else: not so
    much.

    It was big news in Europe and elsewhere, but this topic is still a hard one to
    discuss — publicly — in the U.S., where mental illness rates a high reading on
    the “taboo scale.” It rated not a mention on the NPR “health” section.

    But that doesn’t mean Americans aren’t heavily into antidepressants. A study in
    2004 found one in every three visits to a doctor by women was for an
    antidepressant prescription.\”

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