You know the feeling.
Perhaps your boss snapped at you, or your best friend canceled a lunch date, or nobody remembered your birthday.
Or perhaps it’s just raining, and everything seems bleak.
We all feel low from time to time, and all for different reasons. Weather, family, stress, health – it all has an impact.
For the most part, we can shake it off as “just a bad day.”
The sun comes out, or your friend apologizes for upsetting you, or you get a wonderful bunch of flowers.
And you feel better again.
But when that feeling of sadness, anxiety or depression lingers for days on end, or even longer, it’s likely that you’re not just having a bad day.
Depression is a mental illness that many people avoid talking about – especially men.
However, it can take a huge toll on your life – both mentally and physically.
And now scientists have linked depression to an even more debilitating disease – dementia.
Researchers already know that dementia takes several years to develop, and may not be diagnosed until too late.
However, new evidence shows that depression could be a major causative factor in memory loss and age-related cognitive decline.
This means that early detection of behavioral changes associated with depression and low mood could help predict – and even prevent – the onset of dementia later on.
Research has found that depression increases cortisol production in the brain.
Over long periods of time, these increased cortisol levels can reduce the production of new neurons in the brain, and also cause neurons in the hippocampus to shrink.
This is the beginning of memory problems.
A 2014 study involving more than 1,700 older people who did not have dementia or depression provided some groundbreaking insight into the link between depression and dementia.
Over the 8-year study, researchers found that 52 percent of the subjects showed signs of mild cognitive decline, and 18 percent developed dementia.
Those who ended up with dementia also showed a higher level of clinical depression BEFORE dementia set in.
A clinical review of other Alzheimer’s studies found that depression was a significant risk factor in an individual later developing dementia.
Researchers suggested that suffering from depression during adulthood should serve as a warning sign for becoming susceptible to Alzheimer’s later on in life.
So, what can you do?
First things first: check yourself for these symptoms of depression:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor short-term memory
- Inability to make decisions
- Chronic fatigue
- Persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Feeling pessimistic about the future
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Pessimism and hopelessness
- Constant irritability
- Inability to enjoy things you once loved
- Low sex drive
- Eating too much or eating too little
- Psychosomatic aches and pains
- Recurrent digestive problems
- Thoughts of suicide
If you experience several of these symptoms on a daily basis for more than five weeks at a time, it could mean that you’re depressed.
It’s highly advisable that you seek help from family, friends or a medical professional.
Now – let’s talk action.