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How Happy People Can Still Get Depression

How Happy People Can Still Get Depression

Depression results from many factors, so even happy people can become depressed

Everyone gets a case of the blues now and then, so even happy San Diego residents have their share of ups and downs. Some call this condition being depressed, others see their melancholy as a part of life, and to some extent both parties are correct. However medical research shows a difference between being down for a couple of days and having depression.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression is marked by several characteristics, five of which must occur during the same two-week period for a diagnosis to be made. One symptom of this condition is either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure, but other markers include the following issues:

  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Feeling worthless
  • Excessive guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Indecisiveness
  • Suicidal thoughts

According to the American Psychological Association, depression is the most common mental health disorder: at least 10 percent of the US population will experience it at some point in life. Furthermore, a Stanford University article indicates that women are much more likely than men to experience major depression. Depression affects San Diego residents from all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, so even people who are usually happy can develop this condition.

Depression is more than an emotional state. It has a variety of biological causes, including neurotransmitter deficiencies, brain activity and genetic vulnerability. Combine those issues with difficult circumstances and environmental factors, and depression can easily form.

Depression and Neurotransmitters

One component that leads to depression is the presence (or lack) of neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemicals carry messages across the brain, so a body that produces too little of a specific transmitter may lead depression, because it does not communicate pleasure efficiently. According to Scientific American, many researchers believe that a low level of serotonin plays a role in depression. This chemical helps regulate mood, sleep and appetite, so some people have found relief from their depressive symptoms by taking a medication that helps the brain produce more of it. Norepinephrine and dopamine may also influence mood. Norepinephrine may trigger anxiety and some depression, and it also influences motivation and reward. Dopamine also influences motivation, but it also plays a role in one’s perception of reality, which can also influence thoughts like seeing problems as manageable or not.

Depression and Parts of the Brain

It would be inaccurate to say that a deficient neurotransmitter is the sole cause of depression. If this statement were true, then every person could take medication and find relief, but such is not the case. Neurotransmitters indeed play a role, but Harvard University argues that the following areas of the brain also play a significant role in depression:

  • Amygdala This part of the limbic system lies deep in the brain and is associated with emotions. When someone is clinically depressed, his amygdala activity is higher, possibly even hyper-stimulated.
  • Thalamus This part of the brain receives sensory information (what you see, touch, taste, smell and hear) and relays it to the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex then directs behavioral reactions, thinking and learning, so some researchers think problems in the thalamus may be linked to bipolar disorder, and thereby depression
  • Hippocampus This part of the brain is also part of the limbic system, and it processes long-term memory and recall. The hippocampus is smaller in some people who are depressed, but research indicates that ongoing stress impair the growth of the hippocampus

Depression stems from both different chemicals and sections of the brain. Millions, perhaps billions of chemical reactions in the brain influence mood, perception and experiences; these interactions, coupled with myriad elements, can all influence one’s propensity for depression.

Depression and Genetics

Genetics may also influence a San Diego resident’s mood. According to Healthline, someone whose relative has depression is almost five times more likely to develop the condition. In addition, a 2011 article from Huffington Post reports two separate studies that connect depression with genetic variations in a specific chromosome. Again, genetics do not guarantee depression to occur, but they could strongly influence its development.

Help for Depressed San Diego Residents

It takes great courage to get help for depression, and we’d like to help. San Diego residents can call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime; our admissions coordinators will discuss your symptoms and help you determine the best course of action for treatment. You are not alone in your struggle, so call us today to find a path out of depression.