Depression – The interconnectivity of the mind and body

Depression – The interconnectivity of the mind and body

When assessing anyone’s musculoskeletal complaint, we always need to keep an awareness of the mental/emotional factors that could be at play. We are complex beings with an even more complex set of systems that need to work together for an individual to be at their best.

Research suggests that how a person senses and deals with a particular injury or pain has a lot to do with their mental/emotional state. In times gone by, mental health has been a poorly understood area of health and issues in this area historically have either been swept under the rug, people told to suck it up and be grateful for what they have or plain avoided. The individual suffering can be labelled in all sorts of negative ways. Awareness around mental health is improving.

We need to understand that problems with mental health are highly individualised, require the proper care and are not just an individual wanting attention. Depression is classified as a mood disorder- specifically a feeling of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities.

The American CDC (centre for disease control) estimates that 8.1 percent of American adults ages 20 and over had depression in any given 2-week period from 2013 to 2016. Australian statistics are likely to be similar. People can experience depression in different ways and for many different reasons. It is common for it to interfere with your daily work, influence relationships and effect chronic health conditions.

We need to remember that feeling down occasionally is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But, if you are feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression. Depression is considered a serious medical condition that can get worse if not treated correctly. Good results can come relatively quickly if treatment is given.

Symptoms To Look Out For!

Depression can be more than a constant state of sadness. It can affect your mood or your body. Symptoms may be constant or come and go. Symptoms are highly variable between individuals, genders, and ages. Look out for these symptoms:

  • Mood changes, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness or feeling empty, sad, or hopeless.
  • Behaviour changes such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in a favourite activity, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities. A reduction in sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire, lack of sexual performance can also happen.
  • A reduction in cognitive ability, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks and delayed/limited responses during conversations. Difficulty in remembering and recalling information accurately may also be a symptom.
  • Interfered sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness and not sleeping through the night. Changes in physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems
  • This is not an exhaustive list. Symptoms do vary between individuals and you may have all, or just some of the above symptoms.

What Causes Depression?

There are several possible causes of depression. They can range from biological to circumstantial.

Common causes include:

  • Family history – You are at a higher risk of developing depression if someone in your immediate family, like a sibling, biological parent or grandparent has had it or another type of mood disorder.
  • Early childhood trauma – During childhood, our undeveloped brains are particularly susceptible to trauma. These may include situations or events that involve fear or stress. This can be highly variable for individuals.
  • Brain structure. – Some individuals will have a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. There have been studies that link differences in brain neurotransmitter chemicals as being associated with depression and mental health. More research needs to be done in this area.
  • Medical conditions – Some conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or ADHD.
  • Drug use or alcohol misuse can affect your risk.
  • Other causes may include low self-esteem or being self-critical, personal history of mental illness, certain medications, health problems like a thyroid disorder or vitamin/mineral deficiency and particularly stressful life events, such as loss of a loved one, economic problems, or a divorce.

However, in many cases, healthcare providers are unable to determine what is actually causing depression.

Treatment For Depression.

Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible options. At Perth Allied Health Clinic, we have a great network of referral sources to help get the best outcome. Depression can reoccur, but most individuals recover with the right treatment.

The specific treatments vary for everyone. Medication, Psychology/counselling, light therapy, electrotherapies, and a range of alternative therapies may be used. There are many other therapies not listed and often a combination of therapies is used. This will always be tailored to the individual.

Some things to work on yourself may include implementing CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which looks at how our thoughts influence our feeling which in turn influences our behaviour. Consistent exercise and correct diet may help. Avoiding triggers may be helpful as well. This may include avoiding alcohol and drugs. If situations are stressful, learning to avoid these and say no can help. It is important to remember that all these strategies should be implemented under the correct guidance of a health care professional

Remember that we are all different. And if you are suffering, ask for help in the right place. It is not your fault if you are suffering with mental health. No more than it is someone’s fault if they have any other kind of disorder. Also remember that those around you may not understand and may be confused or hurt themselves about how you are behaving.

Try and remember, you are loved, people do care about you and get help in the right place. Below is a list of resources if you are suffering. But contact your health professional if you want more information.

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