I had decided to go to the doctor because I had no motivation to do anything and was extremely fatigued. Some days, I was taking two or three naps a day. I didn’t even want to do the things I enjoy doing. In addition, I had a weird bald spot in my hair, lack of appetite and severe mood swings.
I really thought my doctor was going to tell me I was depressed. It seemed like I had many of the typical symptoms. I have since discovered that there are several things that trigger depression, or even mimic depression.
Depression can be brought on by ongoing difficulties, such as a major trauma, grief or serious life-changing events. Often, a combination of events or personal factors will build up and lead to depression. A change in the chemicals in our brains is also believed to contribute to depression.
Here are 11 unexpected, and maybe even surprising, causes of depression:
If you have an immediate family member who has suffered from depression, you have a three times higher chance of being depressed than someone who doesn’t have a family history.
Lack of sunshine
Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is more than just wishing for warm weather during the gloomy winter months. We need sunshine to help keep our body’s internal clock functioning like it should. Daily exposure to just 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine can be enough to reap the benefits.
If you don’t eat enough omega-3 fatty acids, you can be at an increased risk for depression. To get your omegas, just eat fatty fish – like salmon, sardines and tuna – as well as canola oil or walnuts.
Poor sleeping habits
Chronic lack of sleep can desensitize your brain to the effects of serotonin, a chemical that helps control your mood and feelings of well-being. Most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to help stave off depression.
Too much social networking
People who are addicted to the Internet are more likely to become depressed. They spend too much time in chat rooms or using social media sites like Facebook. These sites serve as a replacement for real-life socializing. Get out and talk to real people! Looking up health information online can also lead to an increased focus on health problems and contribute to depression.
Depression is a side effect of many medications. Be sure to check the side effects of any new medications you take. You should also check with your doctor when combining more than one medication to see if there are risks. Even oral contraceptives can contribute to depression in women. Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of depression when taking a new medicine.
Worrying too much
The habit of mentally dwelling on your problems can lead to depression. I am guilty of doing this. If I have an argument with someone or feel like I may have said something to hurt another person’s feelings, I will play that conversation over and over in my head until I have blown it out of proportion. I have to work at distracting myself to break the cycle and realize that I am usually creating stress out of nothing.
You may have friends or co-workers who are a negative influence on you. Over time, the negative attitudes of others can wear off on you. Depression can even be contagious. Spending time with a depressed person can lead to similar depressive symptoms in you. Find a few upbeat friends who can outweigh the negative emotions that might be swirling around you.
Tough economic times will bring anyone down. Going through a particularly rough financial patch, such as unemployment, a home foreclosure or bankruptcy, can be extremely stressful. It is not surprising that these trying financial events could lead to depression.
Adults who are overweight have an increased risk of being depressed. We are under so much pressure in our society to look a certain way, and thinness is considered the ideal. It’s more important to focus on creating healthy habits, including eating right and exercising regularly. No matter what your weight, you feel better about yourself if you know you are working at being more healthy.
The link between an underactive thyroid and depression has been documented. Up to 50% of people with hypothyroidism will have some depression-like symptoms. It’s worth having your thyroid hormone levels checked if you are feeling depressed, along with other symptoms such as fatigue, dry skin, cold sensitivity or hair loss.
By taking thyroid medicine every day, my hormone levels have returned to the normal range. While it means taking a pill every morning, I happy to say that I feel like my old self again!