The biology of depression
With the chaos and stress that comes with the recent restrictions, it feels like a relevant time to be bringing depression into the light and educating ourselves about it. We call depression a mental health condition as if this is somehow different from a physical health condition. It's not. In the following presentation Professor Robert Sapolsky from Stanford University illustrates just how real and devastating the biology of major depression is.
If you have the time and the inclination I'd highly recommend watching the whole presentation - approximately 60mins. Robert does use some scientific terms such as neurotransmitter and does talk quite fast but I think you'll be able to follow the general jist of the talk without any scientific background.
And because I'm a geek I've put together a diagram to summarise his main points. Or here for a pdf. (For some reason the youtube link on the diagram doesn't work so use the link above).
Even if you don't watch the presentation, the important take home points are:
major depression is different from transient depression
major depression is not just "in the mind", people can't just "snap out of it".
we need to assess and address the biological factors as well as the psychological factors contributing to depression
if we do address both sides of the equation we'll have a much better chance at a good outcome
a genetic predisposition for depression does not mean we are going to experience depression ourselves
mental health conditions are also physical health conditions
the good news is addressing nutrition, hormones, sleep, exercise and stress will help!
This is only a brief discussion of depression, there is much more to it but it gives good insight into the integration of the biology and psychology for anyone wanting to understand just a little more about major depression.
The more we understand about depression the more compassion we can have and the more we can talk openly about it just as we do physical conditions. This brings it into the light rather than keeping it in the dark corners where it becomes a scary thing that no-one wants to address.
Happy educating ourselves!
P.S. Epinephrine is the American word for adrenaline and norepinephrine is noradrenaline.