Depression is characterized by extreme sadness, a sense of hopelessness and despair. It is caused by a variety of lack factors including lack of sleep, lack of nutrients, lack of light, and lack of love. Adrenal exhaustion, cold and damp conditions in the body and hormonal and chemical imbalances can also attribute to depression. Sometimes depression is simply caused by a series of very sad, life-challenging or threatening events. Depression is the symptom, not the cause, and is an indicator that things are awry.
In Thomas Moore’s book Care of the Soul: A guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life, he suggests that the soul presents itself in a variety of colors, including all the shades of gray, blue and black, and that to care for the soul we need to observe its full range of colors. Some feelings and thoughts seem to emerge only in a dark mood. Suppress the mood, and you will suppress those ideas and reflections. Moore states that depression may be as important a channel for valuable negative feelings as expressions of affection are for the emotions of love. He further states that “melancholy gives the soul an opportunity to express a side of its nature that is as valid as any other, but is hidden out of our distaste for its darkness and bitterness. Melancholy thoughts carve out an interior space where wisdom can take up residence. If we persist in our modern way of treating depression as an illness to be cured only mechanically and chemically, we may lose the gifts of the soul that only depression can provide. In particular, tradition taught that Saturn (a term used 600 years ago to describe being in melancholy) fixes, darkens, weights, and hardens whatever is in contact with it. If we do away with Saturn’s moods, we may find it exhausting trying to keep life bright and warm at all costs. We may be even more overcome then by the increased melancholy called forth by the repression of Saturn, and lose the sharpness and substance of identity that Saturn gives the soul. If we pathologize depression, treating it as a syndrome in need of a cure, then the emotions of Saturn have no place to go except into abnormal behavior and acting out. An alternative would be to invite Saturn in, when he comes knocking, and give him an appropriate place to stay.”
According to Caroline Myss, medical intuitive, “Depression is another symptom that all is not well. Within the clinical world, depression is generally considered an emotional and mental disorder. But prolonged depression often precedes the development of a physical illness. In energy terms, depression literally is a release of energy or life force, if you will without consciousness. If energy is like money, depression is like opening your wallet and announcing, “I don’t care who takes my money or how it is spent.” Prolonged depression inevitably creates chronic exhaustion. If you don’t care who spends your money or how much, inevitably you will end up broke. Just so, without energy you cannot support your health.
Increasingly, it is being discovered that there are biochemical abnormalities in patients with various mental or psychological disorders. Ordinarily for instance, in patients suffering from depression, the adrenal glands would slow production of cortisone. In some depressed patients, however, the glands continue to produce cortisone and adrenalin. This keeps them in a constant state of alarm, which is the primary reaction to stress. Similarly, some patients with manic depressive or bipolar depression do not have the normal response to thyroid-stimulating hormone, which means the thyroid gland and pituitary gland are running independently of one another.
Most significantly, it was discovered in depressed people whom Dr Sheally and Caroline Myss measured were very deficient in beta endorphins, the body’s natural narcotics. On the other hand, those individuals who were depressed and severely agitated had a very high level of beta endorphins. Low levels of serotonin and high or low levels or norepinephrine are other common findings in patients with depression.
Serotonin is a chemical that facilitates transmission of information between nerve cells. Deficiencies of serotonin, found in 40% of chronic pain patients, lead to depression, insomnia and even pain.
Depression is marked by varying degrees of one or more of the following symptoms. Fatigue, insomnia, appetite irregularities, excessive weight gain or weight loss, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, stress, emotional and mental disorders such as introversion, anger, anxiety, nervousness, failure to thrive, poor concentration, muscle aches and pain, migraine headaches, arthritis, sexual problems, high blood pressure, neurosis (a disorder not accompanied by any apparent physical change in the nervous system and with symptoms of hysteria, anxiety, obsession, compulsions and most depressive disorders) or psychosis (a much more serious mental derangement in which patients lose touch with reality and usual cognitive functions. These include those things which are usually called “insanity”: schizophrenia, manic depressive psychosis, involutional melancholia, paranoia and senile psychosis.)
Studies have also revealed that telomeres (a caplike structure at the end of every strand of DNA which are necessary to prevent the aberration or loss of genetic information during cell division) are shortened each year an individual spends depressed, caring for a sick loved one, going through a bankruptcy or a divorce, and so on. Shortened telomere length is linked to aging, cancer and heart disease. Pessimism was the first personality trait to be linked to shorter telomere length says author, Elaine R. Ferguson – Super Healing: Engaging your Mind, body and Spirit to create Optimal Health and Well-being
Depression is a condition frequently brought about through feeling that one’s power of choice is either absent completely or totally eclipsed by the demands of one’s situation.
Dr Norman Sheally and Caroline Myss conducted a case study which found that “Cancer has been linked to depression.” They state that, “to most scientists and clinicians, however the overwhelming evidence that depression clobbers the immune system is apparently threatening because it raises the probability that cancer, the most dreaded and “physical” disease, is just as psychosomatic as a peptic ulcer.
Physicians have accepted for many years that peptic ulcer is a physical disorder when there is actually a “hole” in the intestinal wall. An increase in gastric acidity with discomfort is considered mostly a stress reaction. Actually, peptic ulcer is generally considered to be rooted more in stress than in strictly physical causes, except in a very few individuals in whom there is a familial predisposition to this particular disorder.
Some other contributing factors that can lead to depression include, stress, trauma and environmental pollution. Coping mechanisms and attitudes can have a significant impact too.
“We have consistently noted that illness tends to follow certain patterns of stress or trauma that emerge organically out of the day to day business of living. How well our inner resources serve us in terms of helping us to cope with the ordinary events of life, such as disappointment or frustration over our personal or professional relationships, the experience of loss, financial traumas, to name just a few, is intimately linked with ones quality of health”
Myss states, “Many times I have seen that a person’s energy field is contaminated with environmental pollution, such as toxic air or water or even pesticide intake. These physical pollutants actually affect a person’s nervous system and, more significantly, they constantly raise anxiety and stress levels in people. These factors, however, are not officially recognized as “emotional toxins” (meaning there is no way to quantify the effects of these pollutants), and thus the abnormal behavior they generate would have to be credited to a source other than toxic pollution.