Depression

Sadness is a common feature of everyday life for an increasing number of people. It no longer seems possible to lead a normal life and you begin to ask yourself, why me? It just seems so unfair that it is you who is affected. Many of the things you used to find enjoyable are no longer fun and you begin to wonder, what if it remains this way forever? You isolate yourself and everything around you is telling you to pull yourself together – everyone feels low sometimes. Yet you know it is much more than that – your soul has fallen ill.

Around one in five adults, more so women than men, are suffering from depression or anxiety in the UK. [1] Depression often expresses itself through symptoms such as a constant state of despondency, listlessness, and sleeping disorders. Depression can also cause feelings of guilt, fears, anxiety, physical complaints and even suicidal thoughts.

It is difficult to differentiate between a negative phase of life and a depression requiring treatment. However, if a number of the symptoms stated above apply to you and last longer than 14 days, it may be an indication that you are suffering from depression.    

The causes for depression are as diverse as the symptoms themselves. Generally depression is caused by psychosocial influences, such as decisive life changes and blows of fate. These also include anxiety disorders, compulsive behaviour and phobias, as well as severe illnesses. Even consistent pressure in the family and at work can have a big impact on our mental health and cause depression in the long term. However, many cases of depression are not caused by a reaction to a trauma or continual pressure, but actually can't be traced back to their origins. As well as hereditary predispositions, hormonal malfunctions can also play an important role.

Different scientific studies have shown that changes in the control system of the hormones can take place. Hormonal deficits are often the cause for depression and express themselves in different ways. Suffering from a thyroid disorder can lead to depression in the mornings and a state of anxiety. The latter symptom can also be caused by having too little progesterone in the body. A cortisol deficiency can be responsible for depression caused by stress. A consistent depression can also be the result of insufficient sex hormones: for example, in men, an insufficient testosterone level can express itself through emotional outbreaks, nervousness and irritability. And low DHEA can occasion listlessness and depressive moods.

As well as our hormones, our neurotransmitters – our chemical messengers for the brain – can often be out of balance. For example, if not enough of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline and the hormone serotonin (the so-called ‘happy hormone’) are being produced, then this can cause depression.

In healthy people, hormone levels are regularly within the reference range, which can prevent depression. Verisana offers the possibility to measure your hormones levels by means of a saliva test. The various samples can be easily collected in the comfort of your own home. Saliva tests for the determination of hormone levels are the recommended test form of the World Health Organisation (WHO). 


[1] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jun/19/anxiety-depression-office-national-statistics

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