Hormone serotonin can curb depression

Depression is not a disease but a disorder of the mind, which occurs due to an imbalance in one’s life. Although technology has bridged the geographical gap between people, it has left them feeling more lonely, unloved and ignored.

This can make people violent, angry and irritable. It can also cause loss of concentration, sleeping disorders and nervousness. Since every behaviour has a reason behind it, we need to find out what is disturbing a person.

The Central government is promoting mental health programmes to improve the culture of healthcare in the country. The nation and state-wise statistics of mental illnesses help us gauge the seriousness of the matter.

Depression and other related mental illnesses are prevalent in all countries. One in every four people in the US and the UK suffers from mental illnesses, while in Canada it’s one in five people. In Australia, nearly 45% of the population suffers from mental illnesses. In today’s world, depression has turned into a demon swiping away the essence of life from the lives of crores of people.

It is a mental agony and the longer the condition persists, the harder it becomes to cope with it. But unfortunately, majority of people suffering from it choose to remain silent and avoid treatment. Hence, it becomes a life-long struggle.

It can begin with minor mood swings to loss of concentration, to loss of appetite and can progress till the person feels suicidal. Findings of several government bodies as well as other reports suggest that depression has become common among teenagers.

According to suicide.org, a non-profit organisation and website, a teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24. Approximately 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, and between 10 to 15% suffer from the symptoms.

Demographically women are more prone to depression and some even live their entire lives in depression. The loss of a partner, whether by death, divorce or separation, is the main contributing factor. But men on the other hand tend to end their lives by committing suicide.

People with milder depression have mood swings and mood disorders and face many problems in life. Clinically depressed people can have serious health issues such as heart diseases or cancer, however diabetes causes symptoms that look like depression. You can feel tired or anxious due to high or low blood sugar. Low blood sugar levels can lead to hunger and eating too much.

Early symptoms

However, you can spot the symptoms early. Your body starts sending you signals of depression such as having a feeling of constant fatigue, lethargy or poor sleep. It can also be in the form of physical aches and pains which is not because of any obvious reason. There can be chest pain, muscles ache, trembling or hot flashes.

Also, there can be problems with sexual desire and performance. It is also found that due to depression people do not just lack concentration but also face difficulty in remembering details and making decisions.

Researchers have said that during depression, one’s brain cells face difficulty to communicate with one another and the transmission of excitatory signals between the cells becomes abnormal.

The hormone serotonin that helps in strengthening communication between brain cells fails to do so when depression kicks in. Taking cue from this, researchers are now planning to increase the ability of serotonin through diet, so that it can in turn curb depression.

Several studies have suggested that researchers should focus not only on developing better antidepressants but also on a drug that strengthens and promotes serotonin. Also, a good and healthy diet that helps in uplifting and keeping good mood in people, besides strengthening the digestive system, can assist serotonin in its job.

Moreover, it is advisable that people who suffer from depression and their caretakers receive guidance on diet and nutrition from a certified nutritionist, wellness coach or dietitian, who can help tame the demon, if not ward it off for good.

(The writer is dietician, Diet Clinic)

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