Depression Symptoms

Depression symptoms can be a part of each of our lives.

Are you feeling down in the dumps? Do you find yourself refusing invites to things you once found enjoyable? Do you have trouble getting out of bed, or trouble sleeping?

These are a few classic depression symptoms. However, does this mean you could you be suffering from depression? See also, depression warning signs.

We all feel depressed from time to time. Its a natural human reaction to life's troubles. Depression becomes more serious when the feeling of sadness becomes inescapable and frequent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, below are depression symptoms to monitor.

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Irritability, Restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable; including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment. Here you can find additional information on the physical symptoms of depression.

There are different theories of what causes these depression symptoms; 1 of them being a chemical imbalance.

If you've looked into depression you've probably heard this before. What you may not have heard is that there is no proof supporting the theory of a chemical imbalance. It is stated as fact, but in actuality is a theory.

Depression is real. Take it from someone who battled it for years. The symptoms listed above are very close to what a depressed individual feels.

But after going through the pain of antidepressants, and the withdrawals of coming off of them before it was too late, I came up with a theory of my own:

Depression is caused by life events, whether it be an excess of stress, grieving over a loss, or a traumatic event. Depression symptoms are made worse and possibly even severe by the use of antidepressants, but also by a play on the placebo effect.

The Placebo Effect

According to wikipedia, "the placebo effect points to the importance of perception and the brain's role in physical health."

We're more commonly familiar with the placebo effect when a patient is given a medication in a clinical study and told their condition will improve.

Often times the patients condition does improve because their brain was tricked into believing it would.

New antidepressants are tested using this method. Controversy surrounding these clinical trials is that the antidepressants don't appear to be much more effective than the sugar pills - and of course a sugar pill doesn't have the negative side effects so could be even more effective than an antidepressant.

In an article published by the Washington Post titled, "Against Depression, a Sugar Pill Is Hard to Beat", Shankar Vedantam states:

"After thousands of studies, hundreds of millions of prescriptions and tens of billions of dollars in sales, two things are certain about pills that treat depression: Antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft work. And so do sugar pills."

So what does this have to do with my theory of a play on the placebo effect causing depression?

Well, if depression symptoms can subside because of the placebo effect, then why couldn't depression be worsened because the brain believes its sick?

If you're feeling extra low because you're going through a stressful time in your life, and you stumble across a website outlining depression symptoms, you'll likely be able to relate to many of those symptoms and find yourself diagnosing yourself with depression because your symptoms line up.

Or likewise you go to your doctor and tell him about what's been going on in your life and the feelings you've been having, and he diagnoses you with depression.

If your brain believes you have depression, isn't it just as likely that your brain could create the symptoms of depression as a constant?

Again, depression is real, but the question is; could we be making ourselves worse by believing that we're sick? Can we reach the most powerful organ that we have, our brain, our mind, to heal ourselves?