Depression is a Legitimate Illness

Thoughtful piece by Therese Borchard on the stigma and its effect: people don’t really take depression seriously.

However, asking for dough for depression is a whole other story. I may as well be asking to save the mosquitos. At some level, I believe stigma exists in each and every one of us. We think the person who can’t get upright in the morning is too lazy, stupid, or addicted. Their condition is their fault. If it’s your sister who can’t keep a job because of her mood disorder, she isn’t trying hard enough and she won’t do yoga. If it’s your neighbor who has been depressed her whole life, she wants to be depressed on some level: she is unwilling to move beyond her baggage and do the hard work of recovery. Depression is a white and blue-collar disease that is invisible to the public, and therefore it’s not real. Everyone who suffers from it has contracted it by their lack of discipline and good sense, their negativity and stubbornness.

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Is Depression Related to Inflammation?

Fascinating piece by Therese Borchard. She discusses various triggers, including sugar. You can find the article Could Depression Be an Allergic Reaction? here. And here is an excerpt:

piece by Caroline Williams in The Guardian cites the growing number of studies that suggest depression is, in fact, a result of inflammation. One study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that both depression and mania are associated with pro-inflammatory states. A spike in cytokines, proteins that are pumped into our blood stream when our immune system is fighting off a foreign agent, happens when people are depressed. The process looks the same as when a person is fighting an infection of any kind. A study published in Biological Psychiatry reported that brain images of volunteers injected with a typhoid vaccine, which produces robust inflammation, showed changes in the prefrontal regions of the brain that affect motivation and concentration.

Williams builds the case: “There are other clues, too: people with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis tend to suffer more than average with depression; cancer patients given a drug called interferon alpha, which boosts their inflammatory response to help fight the cancer, often become depressed as a side-effect.”

10 Things I Do Every Day to Beat Depression

Though in the form of a listicle, this piece by Therese Borchard is both thoughtful and detailed. Bouchard enlists a variety of strategies, from positive habits to exercise, humor, diet and meditation. Here’s the full article — 10 Things I Do Every Day to Beat Depression.

And here’s the first item in her list:

1. Swim.

I start the day in the pool. I show up before I can even think about what I’m doing diving into ten feet of cold water loaded with chlorine with a bunch of other nutjobs. Tom Cruise believes that all a depressed person needs to do to get rid of the blues is to strap on a pair of running shoes. I think a few other steps are needed, however, exercise is the most powerful weapon I use every day to whack the demons. If I go more than three days without working out, my thoughts turn very dark and I can’t stop crying. All aerobic workouts release endorphins, while helping to block stress hormones and produce serotonin, our favorite neurotransmitter that can relieve depression. However, swimming is particularly effective at shrinking panic and sadness because of the combination of stroke mechanics, breathing, and repetitiveness. It’s basically a form of whole-body, moving meditation.

Volumes of research point to the benefits of exercise for mood, like the study led by James A. Blumenthal, PhD, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., which discovered that, among the 202 depressed people randomly assigned to various treatments, three sessions of vigorous aerobic exercise were approximately as effective at treating depression as daily doses of Zoloft, when the treatment effects were measured after four months.