Depression is complicated. It is dominated by sadness or low energy. We may lose interest in what was once important to us. These symptoms can have various origins. Depression is overdetermined, meaning there are biological, psychological, social, and spiritual dynamics.
It is possible to see depression when looking at a brain scan. It is clearly a biological phenomenon. Not only our genes play a role, but sleep, food, and exercise also affect depression. We may be predisposed to depression, because our parents or grandparents suffered from depression and carried the genes. Yet research from the science of Epigenetics dramatically changes assumptions about depression.
Epigenetics literally means above the gene. The main idea is that the surface area of a cell determines the health of the cell, not the gene. The gene is merely a blue print for the cell. The signals that the cell receives at the surface area of the cell determines whether a cell thrives. If the cell is in a toxic environment, then the cell will respond defensively. If the cell is in a nourishing environment, the cell will grow and thrive. The signals that the surface area of the cell receives are thoughts, feelings, food, and drink.
Dr. Richard Davidson says that “there is no more effective way to produce localized and specific changes in the brain than behavioral or mental interventions. Behavioral or mental interventions can produce more specific biological changes than any currently known biological method that is known – medication for example.” Taking medication effects the entire body, not just the small areas of the brain related to depression. We are given a long list of side effects, when the pharmacist hands us medication for depression.
Our thoughts, feelings, and behavior affect our depression. If I am self-critical in a destructive way, this can magnify depression. It is important to change our thoughts. Sixty-five percent of our thoughts are redundant and negative. We need to change our thinking at the subconscious level to move toward health and freedom – full remission of depression.
With depression, one is avoiding emotions that seem overwhelming or unaware. Learning to regulate our emotions and affect enables us to feel safe expressing our emotions in a healthy way. Resolving trauma can make a big difference, enabling us to feel peaceful and energized.
Our relationships can also effect depression. Depressed people can isolate themselves and then are deprived of the energy that comes from human interaction. Our beliefs and our values can lead us to be depressed. Please watch this video on symptoms that can be related to depression: