Tracy Cook, NP-C
As the winter continues and our days are gray, cold and maybe rainy, many of us find ourselves feeling down, with less motivation to get up and do our daily routine. In an active retirement community like Robson Ranch, many people tend to say that these down days are just a part of growing older. And it is true. We are all getting older. But what does that really mean? Medical researchers are now learning that as we age, beginning even as early as our 30s, our bodies are losing our natural hormones, our gut is deficient in good bacteria and our key vitamin levels are low.
The definition of depression from a medical standpoint is defined as a mood or emotional state that is marked by feelings of low self-worth or guilt and a reduced ability to enjoy life. A person who is depressed usually experiences several of the following symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness or pessimism; lowered self-esteem and heightened self-depreciation; a decrease or loss of ability to take pleasure in ordinary activities; reduced energy and vitality; slowness of thought or action; loss of appetite and disturbed sleep or insomnia.
When people present to their healthcare professional with such symptoms they are often diagnosed with depression. There are a variety of things that can cause these symptoms and unless we find the underlying issue, depression is difficult to treat.
A major problem can be hormone deficiencies. Low levels or sub optimal levels of testosterone in both men and women have shown a correlation with depression. Women going through menopause have a higher risk of increased new and recurrent depression. Many women are put on anti-depressant drugs during this time but that does not correct the true problem. The hippocampus and amygdala, critical regions in the brain owing to incidence of depression, are rich with androgen (testosterone) receptors. Serotonin plays a key role in the development of depression, and testosterone, as well as estrogen, has been shown to help modulate these neurotransmitters. Our hormones are interdependent on each other to a certain degree, so when some are low, the others hormones are often depleted as well.
Eighty percent of Serotonin, the hormone that is deficient in depression, is made in the gut. If gut health is poor then decrease in serotonin production occurs and can then lead to depression. Taking a good probiotic or eating fermented foods can help with your gut health.
Vitamin deficiencies can also cause depression symptoms such as Vitamin B deficiencies. B-complex vitamins play a key role in supporting brain health. It improves memory, mood and alleviates depression. Our soil in the U.S. is so bad that even if you are eating a good diet, you might be deficient.
Another way to combat depression is with Omega with DHA/EPA. It is brain protective, shows a decrease in depression with higher doses and can be cardio-protective.
As you can see there are many things that may cause depression, so before you assume that depression is just something you have to live with, talk with your healthcare professional and see if you might be suffering from any of these things. All these issues can be treated easily and you might be surprised at how bright and sunny your days can be!
Tracy Cook is an Adult Nurse Practitioner who owns and operates a private medical practice: Adult Health Services and Argyle Medspa and Wellness Center, is a resident of Robson Ranch and a Living Well committee member. For any questions or more information please visit her website www.Argylemedspa.com.