The Magic Pill…Depression

By on May 1, 2012

By Dr. Angela DeRosa, DO, MDA –

With the increase in social media and onslaught of television commercials telling us how to live our lives better every day, we are also told that many of us are depressed and require treatment for depression. Unfortunately many of us are looking for that magic pill to take away the stressors of life and doctors are willing co-conspirators. It is much easier to swallow our sadness away then learn coping skills or get to the bottom of what may be worsening our ability to cope with the day-to-day hurdles life throws at us. However, we have been conditioned to believe that life should be “happy” all the time and sadness or anger is not acceptable and definitely not attractive. Medicate and this all goes away.

So how do you know if you are really depressed or are just having a normal grief reaction to life stressors? Symptoms include but are not limited to a feeling of unease, constant worry, lack of energy, sleeping too much or too little, desire to isolate ones’ self from others or having a feeling of hopelessness or inadequacy. This also needs to go one for a period of 3 months or more.

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Most people encounters stressors that cause many of the above symptoms for short periods of time, but when this affects are abilities to cope with life we are in need of medical attention.

Unfortunately, the body will always deal with a stressor one way or another. If we block the emotional release, it will come out physically.

Under increased stress our bodies adapt to the stress by increasing or decreasing the release of certain hormones which can cause these symptoms.  After the stressor is gone, these hormones go back down to normal and our bodies relax. If a stressor has not been properly dealt with, these hormones stay elevated unnaturally and cause physical harm to the body. It is as if the body believes it is constantly being attacked by an intruder. As you may have guessed the fluctuation of hormones play a role with this conundrum. Common physiological factors that contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression often include excess or minimum levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a tricky hormone. Unless it is perfectly balanced it can be the origin for many systemic inadequacies. When stress levels are high, cortisol is released at an increased rate. Having uncommonly high cortisol is often the cause of the weight gain and fatigue. When cortisol levels are too low you may experience the feeling of hopelessness and fatigue.

Commonly correlated symptoms of low estrogen and depression include fatigue, unexplained weight gain or brain fogginess. Put this together with testosterone deficiencies and you are just about doomed to feel at least irritated, anxious or have mood swings. As I tell all my patients, the very least you will have the “stupid people syndrome”. When people act stupid you can’t cope with it anymore…you want to bite their heads off or at the very least slap them. Hormone deficiencies can make all this worse. Any underlying mood disorder gets exacerbated.

So before you take that “magic pill”, you need to ask yourself; “Am I having an normal reaction to a life stressor and need to learn coping mechanisms”, “have I had my hormones evaluated to ensure that hormonally deficiencies are not contributing to my lack of emotional well-being” and “are my doctors too willing to prescribe anti-depressants because it is easier to do this rather than listen to my concerns”?

Anti-depressants are appropriate and very helpful for patients with true depression…but this magic bullet is not the cure all for everyone and in fact can make things worse in the long run.

– Dr. Angela DeRosa, DO, MDA

About Dr. DeRosa

Dr. DeRosa is a nationally recognized expert in the field of Internal Medicine and Women’s Health. Although her primary focus is on the comprehensive care of female patients, she continues to provide all inclusive health care for both men and women adults. In a previous role, Dr. DeRosa was the Senior Medical Director for Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals. In this position, she provided medical and technical support on various health issues including osteoporosis and female sexual health. In addition to providing patient care, Dr. DeRosa is actively involved in the academic setting. Currently she is an Associate Professor at A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor at Midwestern University, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. DeRosa also serves as a consultant on many levels including medical compliance and quality, research and development, education initiatives and women’s health seminars

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The Magic Pill…Depression