With fall and winter coming on, people are more prone to depression. Every year on average, nineteen million Americans suffer some form of depression. One in four adults will experience depression sometime during their life. An interested fact from Katie Couric’s new online talk show stated that people born after 1950 are ten times as likely to be depressed. Why this is I don’t know.

Three hormones in the body are believed to regulate mood: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When these hormones get out-of-whack, trouble ensues. According to Dr. Ellen McGrath who was interviewed by Katie Couric, there are three main types of depression: situational, seasonal (as in Seasonal Affective Disorder—SAD), and a chemical imbalance in the brain. Couric admitted to severe situational depression after her husband died, but the more common form of depression, chemical, can be treated with prescription drugs.

Part of the problem in treating depression is the embarrassment of admitting that you are indeed depressed. People sometimes joke about mood disorders, as in, “I’m having a nervous breakdown.” Really? Does that mean you need to be hospitalized, or is this something you can handle on your own? A true nervous breakdown would most assuredly require a hospital visit.

We still don’t know what triggers a mood disorder episode, but the three factors believed to be involved include biological, psychological, and social components. To be diagnosed with depression, a person must experience symptoms for more than two weeks. Many people try to “wait it out,” rather than seek professional help. This adds to the feelings of loneliness and isolation.

I have learned, slowly perhaps, that exercise is a great way to combat depression. Exercise has been found to increase the body’s own natural antidepressants, called endorphins. The difficulty is getting out of bed and forcing yourself to start your day, but physical activity is definitely a great way to raise your mood.

Sometimes all you can do is hang in there, believing that even regarding moods and feelings, “This too shall pass.” A close friend of mine in despair committed suicide, not seeing the possibility of change. To me, suicide is the ultimate “screw you” to the universe. What suicidal people seem incapable of figuring out is how those closest to the individual, those left behind, will be affected permanently by the loss of someone they love. Our lives here on earth are so short; why rush toward the darkness? We can hope for life in the world to come, but there are no guarantees. As so eloquently stated in the film “Won’t Back Down,” just out in theaters, “What are you going to do with your one and only life?” Make your life matter. Are you going to trust your eyes, or are you going to trust your heart?

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