Depression is an odd animal. My husband and I spent the last few days in Zion National Park, Utah. I was awestruck by the beauty of nature yet felt sad at the same time. Is that sadness depression? I’m pretty sure that was how I felt.
I have this need to name my depressive feelings hense “Awe Depression”. This got me thinking, is there a clinical name for this and other types of depression?
Google to the rescue! Following are a few of the most common causes of depression, some more surprising than others.
Maybe your mother had it. Or your uncle or your sister. Watching a family member suffer from depression can be difficult. But does that mean you also will suffer from the condition?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is most commonly associated with winter blues, and it afflicts about 5% of Americans. But for less than 1% of those affected by SAD, this form of depression strikes in the summer. “Warm weather depression is caused by the body experiencing a delay adjusting to new seasons,” says Alfred Lewy MD, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University, in Portland. Instead of waking and enjoying dawn, the body has a hard time adjusting, this could be due to imbalances in brain chemistry and the hormone melatonin.
Depression is a possible side effect for anxiety and insomnia drugs. Certain drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure and lower cholesterol can also be a culprit. Then there are those drugs used to treat menopausal symptoms. These among many others can cause depression, read the potential side effects when you take a new medication, and always check with your doctor to see if you might be at risk.
End of Events
When something important comes to an end, like a TV show, movie, wedding, relocation or vacation , it can trigger depression in some people. All the excitement leading up to the event has had your adrenaline in overload. When the event ends the adrenaline levels drop and so does your mood.
Where You Live
You can endlessly debate whether city or country life is better. But research has found that people living in urban settings do have a 39% higher risk of mood disorders than those in rural regions. A 2011 study in the journal Nature offers an explanation: City dwellers have more activity in the part of the brain that regulates stress. And higher levels of stress could lead to psychotic disorders.
Too Many Choices
The sheer number of options available whether it’s a beauty product, what to eat for breakfast at a restaurant or simply buying a bathing suit can be overwhelming, Not a problem for shoppers who pick the first thing that meets their needs. However, some people respond to choice overload by exhaustively reviewing their options in the search for the best item. Research suggests that this coping style is linked to perfectionism and depression.
Lack of Fish in the Diet
Low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and vegetable oils, may be associated with a greater risk of depression. A 2004 Finnish study found an association between eating less fish and depression in women, but not in men. These fatty acids regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin, which could explain the link. Fish oil supplements may work too; at least one study found they helped depression in people with bipolar disorder.
Poor Sibling Relationships
Although unhappy relationships with anyone can cause depression, a 2007 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that men who didn’t get along with their siblings before age 20 were more likely to be depressed later in life than those who did. It’s not clear what’s so significant about sibling relationships (the same was not true for relationships with parents) researchers suggest too much squabbling is associated with a greater risk of developing depression before age 50.
Pain and depression are closely related. Depression can cause pain — and pain can cause depression. Sometimes pain and depression create a vicious cycle in which pain worsens symptoms of depression, and then the resulting depression worsens feelings of pain. Such fun! A rollercoaster of symtoms – which is causing which?
Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time, and may begin to affect your mood. Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress. Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem. Depression doesn’t just occur with pain resulting from an injury. It’s also common in people who have pain linked to health conditions.
In retrospect my Awe depression is not all that odd. If I analyze myself (this happens frequently), it seems to fall under end of event depression; I tend to worry about the trip being over while it is still happening therefore everything is that much more intense and important.
It seems self-analyzing can be enlightening. I am by no means suggesting you fire your therapist! A little self discovery never hurt anyone. Does your depression fit any of the categories I have listed? Did I miss one that you feel may cause depression in you? If so please share as we are all in this depression game together. I feel the more we learn from each other; the better equipped we become to aid ourselves in our lifelong healing process.
I stepped out of my box on my last post “Political Obsurdities”. Needless to say I did not get many likes and no comments. Not that I live for likes or comments but I worked hard on that post, damn hard. I thought I had written an op-ed that would make people think. The cricketts were thinking.
Strangely, today was a bad head day for me. I have not “depression” sobbed in a minute and was taken aback when I did. Am I so entwined in what words I put to paper, so to speak, and the reception received that I will let my whole being be affected? I would be in good company if I did. Writing is one of the top 10 professions in which people are most likely to suffer from depression, according to US website health.com.
A 2009 article published by the Association for Psychological Science revealed research that showed a definitive link between creativity and the neuregulin 1 gene, which is also closely associated with psychosis.
Having hailed from a family with a long history of mental dis-ease — among them bipolar disorder, nervous disorders, anxiety, depression and bulimia nervosa — I fit the bill. As did this list of a few of my favorite writers who I now feel are part of my dysfunctional family.
1. Sylvia Plath
Plath was known, among friends and colleagues, for her frequent mood swings, tendencies toward impulsivity and a mercurial temperament. She was easily plunged into dejection by even the smallest rejection or perceived failure.
I am hopeful that when I find my writing voice as she found hers I will survive in tact what she could not.
2. Leo Tolstoy
Noticeable signs of depression didn’t strike Tolstoy until middle age, but the illness came on with a vengeance. The author considered becoming celibate, questioned his religious beliefs and began giving away his possessions so that he could live like a peasant.
Studies show that both those in the creative arts and those with depressive disorder spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating their own distress. I can relate.
3. Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf had her first bout with depression at the age of 15. She battled it throughout her life. Her creativity was frequently compromised by intermittent mood swings punctuated by sleeplessness, migraines and auditory and visual hallucinations.
I have Ms. Woolf beat by a year. I suffered my first anxiety attack and pursuing bout of depression at 14. Thank God I do not have auditory or visual hallucinations. But still I had no idea what the f**k was going on. Nor that I would be writing about it these many years later.
4. Ernest Hemingway
Depression, borderline and narcissistic personality traits, bipolar disorder and, later, psychosis created Hemingway’s personal hell. Hemingway self-medicated, used alcohol, engaged in risk-taking sportsmanship activities and wrote to cope.
The author’s mental and physical health deteriorated so rapidly during the last years of his life — primarily due to alcoholism — that he finally accepted electroshock treatments in 1960.
I relate to Hemingway in a personal way. I am a child of electroshock therapy, my mother received electroshock treatments in the early 60’s, while unknowingly pregnant with me.
It is undeniable that many prominent writers and poets of the last several centuries have suffered from mental dis-ease. In the words of Lord Byron, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”
I tend to agree.
I am typing as I prepare to dash out the door for the WordPress Conference. I am so glad to be here. Happy I came. I was hesitant to attend as for the last four years I had let my health and depression define me. My husband said “Marlene you are going to this conference. You are still that independent woman I married 5 years ago. You don’t see her, I do.” He was right. I had let fear take over my life. After meeting and interacting with so many wonderful fellow bloggers at the mixer last night I can feel the old Marlene starting to shine through. Thrilled she’s back. I could say she never left she was hibernating. Time to wake up, smell the coffee and enjoy life. As I have said before I only get to do this once, it’s not a dress rehearsal. I let five years pass me by in a haze of not caring. For now, right this minute, I am back and running out the door to do something for myself. Learn, meet people and have fun. Woohoo!!!!
“Live to live” my shrink said to me. I had relayed my story about the surgeon who removed my gallbladder telling me my liver was enlarged which can cause you to drop dead. I have a fear of death, I was having a “moment ” in her office. We are all going to drop dead at some point she retorted. You have to live to live. I totally understood. You are not living if you are worried about dying. It was an aha moment for me. What do you think?