Many women suffer from depression. It can be directly due to trauma such as sexual abuse, poverty, or the loss of a loved one. It can also be caused or augmented by the manner in which one responds to life—i.e., are certain issues perceived as challenges or problems? Depression also contains a distinctly biochemical component. A complex relationship exists between the body and the mind (see the entry, "Stress").
The term "mental illness" has been used too often to stigmatize women and assign personal blame to what is more accurately described as social problems caused by gender bias. In addition, most mental health professionals apply a limited allopathic medical model to the various forms of mental, emotional and spiritual distress that people suffer. Clearly, the definition of "mental illness" is dependent on the mindset, prejudices and cultural conditioning of the person making the diagnosis.
Another problem in the mental health field is the ease with which drugs are prescribed. Despite the positive publicity surrounding mind-
What event or events triggered it? Can something be done to eliminate or ease the external circumstances that led to the depression? (For instance, if you were raped, have you taken steps to remove the perpetrator from your presence?)
Do you feel low in self-
If your brain is not producing enough of a particular hormone, this may indicate depression. In a cyclic cause-
Specific Related Health Condition
Low Thyroid Function or sluggish thyroid (Hypothyroidism). An often-
Restorative Strategies: Ask a doctor to check your metabolism, and if necessary prescribe thyroid hormone replacement. Eat plenty of ocean fish and kelp.
Blood Sugar Disorders. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and even diabetes (chronic high blood sugar) can contribute to or even cause depression. See "Blood Sugar Disorders."
Restorative Strategies: Many people with blood sugar disorders require extra niacin (Vitamin B-
Candida Albicans and other Fungal/Yeast Infections. A localized or systemic yeast infection can cause major depression. This is because of the toxins that the fungal forms excrete. Depression often inhibits the adequate flow of digestive juices; and when this happens, the friendly intestinal flora die, thus providing the opportunity for yeast and fungal forms to proliferate unchecked.
Restorative Strategies: Eliminate gluten from the diet, which can cause intestinal damage and even autoimmune disorders. Take a supplement of acidophilus, bulgaricus and other friendly flora, available from the health food store. Go on a high protein diet. (The amino acids that naturally exist in the protein foods will help combat depression.) A naturopath or herbalist will be able to suggest herbs to combat the fungal overgrowth. Allopathic drugs should be used only as a last resort.
Biochemical Deficiency. There are drugs intended to substitute for the body’s missing hormones. Many people opt to take these drugs. However, be aware that drugs that substitute for the body’s own functions can ultimately completely dismantle the body’s ability to get back into balance. You might consider consulting a holistic practitioner who can recommend nutritional supplements that will help your system create its own hormones again.
Restorative Strategies: Make sure your blood sugar levels are normal. Consult a qualified health care practitioner; you have lots of work to do. Depression isn’t the normal condition of the bodymind; it’s an indication that something is wrong. Also see "Dietary Support" and "Balancing Blood Sugar Levels."
Nutritional Deficiency. This is a common cause of, or contributor to, depression. The power of nutrients to radically alter one’s mood and emotional reactivity should not be underestimated.
Restorative Strategies: The more popular supplementation includes niacin (Vitamin B-
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