Everything you need to know about depression, the invisible shadow

Own organism emits the signals that put us on the track. The tension and muscle discomfort They may be symptoms of depression. Also headaches, palpitations, feelings of tightness in the stomach and difficulty breathing. And of course, both the insomnia As the excessive tiredness. On a deeper level, chest pain, dry mouth, obsessive thoughts and even hand tremor may also manifest. But, nevertheless, the most important thing (although perhaps the most difficult to detect and measure) is what happens to the mood: that feeling of vital tiredness, that total loss of interest in activities that previously provided pleasure, lack of desire and energy, the lack of motivation

The opposite of depression it is not happiness, but the vitality. The sadness is also, but it is not the main thing in a depression, but the laxity and the lack of desire and strength to develop in life. When vitality moves away from someone and everything starts to seem impossible; When everything is an excessive effort and everything overflows, all the alarms of depression go on.

The signs are clear and yet, a good part of people who suffer from depression do not know it and they are not being treated. In fact, the WHO warns that depression increases and does not understand ages. Even children and teenagers are not free from their threat.

Still, major depression can be prevented if it is stopped as soon as the first symptoms begin to appear. The key is to learn to distinguish if we are going through a normal bad run or if it is something else. “The difference is mainly in the intensity and duration of symptoms”, Specifies dr. Marina Díaz, head of the Unit of Eating Disorders (TCA) of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital of Madrid and President of the Psychiatric Society of Madrid.

In feminine

It is statistically proven that women are the ones who suffer mostly from the devastating effects of depression. 70% versus 30% of men. "The hormonal changes that we go through throughout our lives, much more aggressive than in the case of men, are among the main causes. Women go through pregnancies, postpartum depression, menopause … But other vital circumstances also appear, such as work pressure, the greatest difficulty in achieving work goals or the very complicated reconciliation of work and family, ”explains Dr. Díaz.

A woman with family history of depression You are more likely to develop the disease. However, this background is not a fixed sentence nor does it mean that whoever does not have it is free to suffer it. For it to happen, there has to be a combination of genes with psychological and environmental factors.

In the opinion of the dra. Marina Díaz, is about being aware of what process we are immersed in, because we all suffer from things that cause us suffering to a greater or lesser degree. “Sadness is a momentary mood that is part of the ups and downs of life. But depression occurs at much deeper levels. Most of the time, their sadness appears without an apparent reason and with prolonged and distressing effects that decisively alter our lives, ”explains Dr. Marina Diaz

“The pattern varies and depends on many factors. For example, age can condition the way in which depression manifests. It is possible that in the teenagers show poor academic performance, substance abuse or behavioral disturbance; and that in elderly patients present with a picture of physical discomfort ”, details dr. Roberto Fernández, psychiatrist of the Hospitalization Unit of the HM Puerta del Sur University Hospital. It is Dr. Díaz who offers an infallible clue to detect the beginning of a depression: “When the desire to go out, socialize and share hours with others disappears, it is when you have to start worrying, since depression is a loneliness disease that turns human interaction into a very stressful activity. ”

In addition, a significant percentage of women with depression also suffer Eating Disorders (such as anorexia, bulimia or compulsive feeding).

In fact, 60% of those who suffer from depression need to eat more carbohydrates and sugar-rich foods to balance their serotonin levels. And when that happens, it is not difficult to enter a vicious circle. Nature magazine published a study from the University College of London in which it highlighted how sugar consumption facilitated hippocampal atrophy (one of the areas of the brain associated with memory) and favored depression. When we consume too much sugar, our body has to secrete insulin in an exaggerated way, which ends up causing a hormonal alteration that influences the mood.

The study also warned of danger of addiction and its relationship with obesity, which is another common reason for depression. One thing to keep in mind: between 15 and 25% of patients increase their appetite during an episode of depression. And with that, it also increases your weight.

Can it be prevented?

The answer is yes, but with nuances, because it depends on the type of depression that is being suffered. “There are two: the reactive, which has to do with our reactions to fatal and traumatic events; and the genetics. The first has a wide margin of action in prevention, but the second is complicated, ”says Dr. Marina Diaz Reactive depression is a mood disorder that occurs in response to an event or a chain of them. A third of the Spanish population considers that they have suffered episodes of depression, according to an OCU survey. Problems at work or studies are perceived in 46% of cases as triggers; They are followed by couple problems (40%), health problems (37%), family members (31%) and economic problems (30%).

“The key is to be aware that, sooner or later, an event will come that will test our emotional ability To get through it. And, although finally a depression episode, if we are strong, we will have more possibilities to overcome it, ”explains Dr. Diaz To be strong it is essential, although it seems obvious, to lead a life that includes exercise and good nutrition, since both allow us to be more prepared to overcome the bad times.

There are solutions

What can we do then if we suffer depression? "Psychotherapy and drugs –Said Dr. Diaz–. 60% of patients respond well to treatment, it works for them ”. But one of the drug's handicaps is that it takes about 15 days to take effect. A problem, if one takes into account that many patients go to consultation when the disease is advanced or when they are desperate. Maybe that's why, according to the latest survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, many of them leave the treatment early. The reason they point out is the belief, in 52% of cases, that they can handle the situation without antidepressants. But leaving them early causes a relapse. That is why they consider it so important to learn to detect it, to prevent it and to respect the treatments.

What you eat matters

The quality of the diet and the deficiencies of certain nutrients determine the mental health. This is assured by a study by the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. It is necessary to feed the brain with omega-3 fatty acids, group B vitamins (folic and B12) and vitamin D, in addition to zinc, magnesium and iron. "Just everything that brings the Mediterranean diet," says Dr. Diaz Do not miss in your diet blue fish, nuts, dairy, green leafy vegetables, eggs and sweet potatoes.

Exercise, the great antidepressant

The physical activity It is an effective complement to prevent and treat depression, because stimulates the production of proteins that repair neurons and increase their proliferation. It also regulates the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, while increasing cerebral blood flow and stimulating the release of endorphins.

Any physical activity is relevant (from walking up stairs). Of course, according to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, the team sports they are the best practice to reduce the effects and symptoms of depression (up to 22%), followed by cycling (21%) and gym aerobic exercise (twenty%). The researchers also point out that you have to do sessions of between 30 and 60 minutes, not more than five days per week. Exceeding 90 minutes of exercise or practicing more than 23 days a month can be counterproductive.

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