©2007 Publications International, Ltd. Millions of Americans report suffering from depression every year.

There are many times in the course of life that you may feel overwhelmed and distraught. If you didn't feel like singing the blues now and again you wouldn't be human. It's actually very healthy to get down from time to time. It's when that down-in-the-dumps feeling begins to stick around longer than a couple of weeks that you might be suffering from a more serious condition, such as clinical depression.

If you are experiencing a bout of depression, don't feel alone. Mental health experts say at least 30 million people deal with mild depression every year, and 18.8 million Americans are diagnosed with a more serious form of depression annually. Despite the wide array of medications for depression, there are also some simple home remedies that you can try to restore your balance. But, before we get to the home remedies for depression, let's learn a little bit more about the condition.

Major or Minor?

Though it'd be nice to go through life pretending like you're in a Brady Bunch episode, it's not realistic. There are going to be times when life throws you a few curveballs. Perhaps you suddenly lose a parent or your spouse is diagnosed with a major illness. Feeling depressed during tough times is normal. Mild depression is something everyone encounters. But sometimes stressful situations can cause more than a few days of sadness.

If your hopeless feelings begin to become more intense and last more than a couple of weeks, you could be experiencing clinical depression. Major depression, one form of clinical depression, may only happen once in your lifetime, or it may come back several times. Major depression usually lasts weeks or months and is disabling. It can cause you to lose interest in work, sleep, eating, or going out to dinner with a friend. A less severe form of clinical depression is dysthymia. Dysthymia isn't as emotionally crippling as major depression. With dysthymia you go about your life, attending soccer games and birthday parties, but it feels as though there's a gray cloud hanging over your life. Dysthymia is a chronic condition. And people with dysthymia may suffer bouts of major depression throughout their lives.

Major depression is a serious and dangerous disease, and dysthymia can spoil your life over time. The good news is that there are effective modern treatments for depression, including medications that have fewer side effects than those used just a few years ago. If depression persists or makes you feel as if life is not worth living, see a doctor promptly.

Causes of Depression

Researchers have discovered that depression can run in the family. That doesn't mean that you'll definitely suffer bouts of depression if your mother did. But if you encounter a stressful situation, such as losing your job, you may be more likely to slip into a major depression than someone who doesn't have a genetic link to the condition.

Physiologically, most types of depression are related to a malfunction in neurotransmitters in the brain. Researchers have discovered that if there is a glitch in the way neurotransmitters communicate, you can experience problems with mood, sleeping, and eating. Also, people who are more susceptible to depression physiologically tend to overreact to stress.

Other causes of depression include:
  • Major stresses, such as going through a serious illness or losing someone close to you.
  • Hormonal changes. As hormones fluctuate -- after having a baby, before and during menstruation, and during menopause -- women tend to suffer more depression.
  • Medications. Check with your doctor if you've recently started a new medication and are feeling symptoms of depression.
For more information on treating and understanding depression, try the following links:
  • To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
  • Depression can quickly spiral into a serious and dangerous problem. While severe cases of depression need a doctor's attention, mild depression can be treated with herbs available at your local health-food store. Learn more in Herbal Remedies for Depression.
  • You can learn more about the causes and treatments of depression in How Depression Works.
  • To learn more about stress and how it can contribute to depression, read How Stress Works.
  • One of the major factors that can cause depression is anxiety. Learn how to alleviate this condition in Home Remedies for Anxiety.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.