The brain is the life center of our body. The core of our being. Many say that this is where a persons soul dwells. I am not quite sure about that. However, it is no surprise, that this is the part of the body that depression affects. Depression, which in time (and severe cases) will turn the persons body and life upside-down.
The brain and the spinal cord form the central nervous system. This system receives information from and sends out instructions to the body. The brain has 10,000 million nerve cells or neurons. Also contained within the brain are many different natural chemicals, which help it to maintain its function of controlling the body. When these chemicals (more specifically - norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin), are thrown off balance a person is touched by depression. There are also recent studies that prove malfunction of particular circuits in the brain to be an added component of depression.
The brain is made up of four regions which are called lobes. There is the Frontal Lobe, which is the area of the brain behind the forehead. The Parietal Lobe, the area of the brain on the top of the head. The Temporal Lobe, the area of the brain behind the ears. And, the Occipital Lobe, which is the area of the brain on the back of the head near the base of the skull.
Each lobe is responsible for specific functions, but there are so many that only a few can be named.
The frontal lobe is the primary portion of the brain which is effected by depression. Activity related to depression is usually contained within this lobe.
Once, the word depression meant nothing to me. Through that, I'm not saying that I didn't know the meaning of the word. If a friend told me "I failed yesterdays exam... I'm so depressed!" I would understand it to mean that she was down or upset. Until resent times I never knew the true, darker meaning behind depression. I never understood, how it can change peoples lives, or the way it can bring the smartest, strongest person down to their knees in tears wishing they could just die to get everything over and done with.
In today's world, Depression is a very commonly used word. Depression is so widely spread, yet so often overlooked that it's startling. What is even more startling is the link between unseen depression and suicide (especially teen suicide) as the worlds suicide rates are growing daily.
What is Depression?:
Every person in this world suffers from depression at least once during their life. It varies from the occasional sad or blue mood, to more severe cases of self-hatred and constant suicidal thoughts. Most of these symptoms (the first two), people suffer from now and then. They are a natural reaction to stress and tension. In depression, however, they are around for a long time, and are much more severe, reducing enjoyment in everyday life… When sadness never returns to gladness, it becomes what authorities call the nation's leading mental health problem, "clinical depression". Depression is remarkably common. In fact, depression is often called "the common cold of mental health problems".
Depression occurs through changes in the levels of natural chemical messengers in the brain. These chemical changes are associated with a wide range of symptoms that affect the whole person in body and mind.
Depression is an illness, like Diabetes or Cancer. And like any other illness, when depression gets intense enough, it effects everything in that persons life, from personal well-being to even their attitude towards life. They may have trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, reoccurring sickness and many other problems. And what most people don't realize is that the depression does not only effect the one persons life, it effects everybody around that person. It may affect family, and also friends.
Depression has been described as intense feelings of loneliness and emptiness that are so overwhelming they drag the spirit into a downward spiral. Some of the most touching, and familiar descriptions of depression come to me through Sarah McLachlans songwriting.
"The road is long, and memory slides, to the whole of my undoing… i put aside, i put away, i push it back… to get through each day. And all i feel is black and white, and i'm wound up, small and tight… and i don't know who i am. " Black And White. "i feel just like i'm sinking, and i claw for solid ground. I'm pulled down by the undertow, i never thought i could feel so low, and oh, darkness, i feel like letting go. "
Full Of Grace.
Depressed people often frustrate and alienate those around them. But this should not be taken personally, these people have an illness and they often can't help pushing people away. People suffering from this illness also tend to engender tremendous guilt in those around them. Those close to them, often think that something must be wrong with them because nothing they do seems to help. But this is nothing to feel guilty about clinical depression can't be relieved with love alone, just as other illnesses can't be. People who are depressed need professional help and many end up requiring medication.
"The sorrow that has no vent in tears may make other organs weep"
Henry Maudsley, M.D.
Depression is often overlooked because an enormous number of other symptoms can mask it. Depression often manifests as headaches, back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems, shortness of breath, and many others. It also affects many of the body's mental processes, including those of thought, paying attention, dreaming and learning. Depression may be missed because its complex and varied symptom picture confuses many doctors.
Once it is diagnosed, depression in many cases can be successfully treated. The illness requires treatments such as talking about feelings and emotions, looking for solutions and taking an effective anti-depressant medicine. However even with these treatments it usually takes months or years for the depression to lift. And it should be mentioned, that treatments that work for some will not have the same positive effect on others. Up to 40% of people with depression are likely to experience a recurrence at some time after their recovery.
Causes of Depression:
Depression can arise in a number of ways. It may result from one or more distressing, or highly stressful things in a person's life. It might be a recent event, or it could be something that happened many years ago. While some people can pinpoint the cause, others cannot. Often depression has no clear cause, no triggering event. There may not be an obvious reason for the depression, simply the chemical imbalance in the brain. Also, occasionally there is a history of depression in the family.
Many people blame the subconscious mind for depression. Perhaps the subconscious mind is actually telling the mind that it wants to be depressed, there is a strong possibility that this is the case. And perhaps that is the case, but even with today's advanced technology so little is known about the subconscious mind that nobody can prove this idea.
Memory is the capacity to bring to mind an event from the past (bringing it from subconscious to conscious awareness). Without memory nobody would recognize anybody, nobody could think and nobody would even know who they are.
Memory of a traumatic event in a persons life, once triggered is a common cause of depression. Feelings of guilt and self-hatred stem from these events, and it is often not until recalling the whole past that the persons depression is able to be dealt with.
Suicide and Depression:
Suicide is the most tragic consequence of depression. And people rarely take notice of the signs, and see it coming. Within five years of suffering a major depression, an estimated 25 percent of sufferers try to kill themselves.
The myth is that people who talk about suicide don't attempt it. The fact is that many people announce their intention before their suicide attempts, and that any potentially suicidal remarks or actions should be taken very seriously.
Each year more than 250,000 teens attempt suicide, and at least 2,000 complete it (if not more). Since 1960, teen suicides have doubled. With girls more likely to attempt suicide, but boys kill themselves four times more often, usually through the use of guns.
The suicide rate is much higher among those who suffer from depression. Depression, the unseen disease, is one of the major medical problems of the century, and yet how to make it more visible is still a mystery. With so many scientific, medical and technological breakthroughs occurring, it is hoped that the light of depression will soon be found, along with a successful cure, and preventative measures. Depression is not forever, and hopefully soon it will not exist at all.