Depression is not simply a temporary change in one’s mood. People fighting depression have constant feelings of deep despair for extended periods of time. Depression can affect all aspect of one’s life including emotions, physical health, relationships, school and work. It is a real medical condition with many emotional, physical, behavioral and cognitive symptoms.
Many people with depression feel ashamed or don’t ask for help because they are afraid of what others will think. Some shrug off their symptoms and end up suffering in silence. Depression is not a character flaw, but sufferers often think this way due to feeling of guilt caused by the illness. It is a serious medical condition for which help and various treatments are available, but you must first be aware of it and know how to ask for help.
If you suspect that you are depressed, it is important that you see a doctor or health professional as soon as possible.
Signs & Symptoms of Depression
Constant sadness, pessimism, feeling worthless, excessive guilt, feeling helpless, feeling anxious, feeling empty, irritability, memory loss, loss of interest in sex and other activities, difficulty making decisions or focusing, dark or suicidal thoughts
Fatigue, decreased energy level, aches/pains (head, joint, stomach, other), insomnia or hypersomnia, excessive, broken, or unrefreshing sleep, Change in appetite (usually decreased), weight gain or loss, cramps, digestive issues, restlessness, jumpiness, psychomotor impairment (feels like speech/thoughts/movements have slowed down)
Types of Depression
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Major depressive disorder is the most common form of depression. It usually lasts for at least two weeks. People with MDD typically feel sad or hopeless or lack focus in life, on a daily (or almost daily) basis, and for most of the day. If properly managed, recovery is possible for people suffering from MDD.
Mild Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)
Dysthymia, or Mild Chronic Depression, is less severe than major depression. The symptoms can linger for a long period of time; often two years or longer. Those who suffer from dysthymia can also experience periods of major depression. Experts are not sure what causes dysthymia or depression. Genes and family history, changes in levels of brain chemicals, major life stressors, chronic illness, medications, and relationship or work stresses may also increase the chances of dysthymia.
Seasonal Depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (Sad), affects between 3% and 5% of Canadian adults. It typically occurs in association with a loss of daylight (e.g. during winter months in Canada). For those that suffer from SAD, the symptoms usually arrive in the fall and lift in the spring.
Postpartum Depression (PPD)
Following the birth of a child, a woman’s hormone levels dip drastically. There are a number of chemical, social and psychological changes which may result in the new mother feeling depressed. This is known as a Postpartum Depressive Episode. It is believed to be a form of MDD that happens within 4 weeks after delivery.
Despite its name, Atypical Depression is fairly common and some doctors believe that it is underdiagnosed. Atypical depression can have some similar symptoms to major depression, but does not have the number of symptoms needed for a diagnosis of major depression. Common symptoms include increased appetite or weight gain, sleepiness or excessive sleep, and feeling extremely sensitive to rejection. The main characteristic of atypical depression that distinguishes it from major depression is mood reactivity. A person with atypical depression will see his or her mood improve if something positive happens. Not so with major depression.
Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression, is a complex genetic disorder that causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking and behavior. Extremes can go from the highs of mania, to the lows of depression and these cycles can last for days, weeks, or months. Unlike ordinary mood swings, the mood changes of bipolar disorder are so intense that they interfere with your ability to function. During a manic episode, a person might impulsively quit a job, go on extravagant shopping sprees, or feel rested after sleeping only two hours. During a depressive episode, the same person might be too tired to get out of bed, and be full of self-loathing and hopelessness over being unemployed and in debt. The causes of bipolar disorder aren’t completely understood, but it often appears to be hereditary. The first manic or depressive episode of bipolar disorder usually occurs in the teenage years or early adulthood. The symptoms can be subtle and confusing; many people with bipolar disorder are overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Psychotic Depression (a subtype of major depression) occurs when a severe depressive illness includes some form of psychosis. The psychosis could be hallucinations (hearing a voice in your head), delusions (intense feelings of worthlessness, failure, having committed a sin, being possessed by the devil) or some other break with reality with generally depressing themes. People with psychotic depression may get angry for no apparent reason, spend a lot of time in bed or by themselves, neglect their appearance by not bathing or changing clothes, or may be hard to talk to. Some barely talk, or says things that make no sense. Psychotic Depression affects about 25% of people admitted to a hospital for depression.
Grieving is a normal and necessary response to a loss and does not normally lead to depression. However, depending on the individual, this period can last weeks, months, or even years and a significant loss can trigger genuine depression.
Causes of Depression
Some factors believed to be possible causes or triggers of depression in some individuals include: an imbalance of chemicals in the brain and spinal cord, family history of depression, stressful life events (death, chronic illness, relationship problems, divorce, job loss, relocation), childhood trauma (abuse, neglect, family violence, divorce), work stress, chronic illness, financial issues, and/or substance abuse.
Antidepressant medications used properly under the guidance of a health care professional may relieve some symptoms of depression, but there can be unwanted side effects and dangers as well, plus, the effectiveness of these drugs is a topic of debate. Many who respond to these medications eventually slip back into depression.
Research your options. It’s important to weigh the benefits and risks so you can make an informed decision about whether antidepressant medication is right for you.
Laser Therapy Can Help Control Your Depression
To address your depression, at laserhealthservices.ca a certified laser technician will apply Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), otherwise known as a soft or cold laser, to release endorphins in your body naturally, using your own body chemistry. Endorphins are released in our bodies during exercise, excitement, pain and sexual activity. They are our body's natural pain killers. They help to reduce the sensation of pain and also help us to feel better emotionally.
Most targeted points are auricular (on the ears), while others may be on the head, face, hands, feet and limbs. Stimulating specific points can initiate or alter reactions inside the body and help to reduce and control your depression.
As an added bonus, in addition to improvement in the condition they are seeking therapy for, due to the release of endorphins (natural pain killers in their bodies), many clients experience pain relief where they normally may have issues in areas such as headaches, neck, back, shoulders or knees.
This non-medical, non-invasive laser procedure is safe, extremely effective, and has been successfully applied to help clients relieve pain and control addictions, health disorders and conditions in Canada and the UK for more than 30 years.
Learn more about Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) on our ABOUT page
Depression is a serious medical condition.
It is important to discuss all symptoms with a doctor or medical professional.
In addition to laser therapy we recommend professional counselling to address your depression.
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