THE greatest enemy to the healthy senior mind is depression. Depression is a whole-body illness. It involves the body, nervous system, moods, thoughts, and behavior. When you are depressed, everything slows down. You think and move slowly. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way to react to and think about the people and things around you.
Depression can last for weeks, months, or years. There are many types of depression, with variations in the number of symptoms, their severity and persistence.
Symptoms of depression include chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances (either insomnia or excessive sleeping), changes in appetite, headaches, backaches, digestive disorders, restlessness, irritability, quickness to anger, loss of interest or pleasure in life, and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
The causes of depression are not fully understood, but they are probably many and varied. Depression may be triggered by tension, stress, a traumatic life event, chemical imbalances in the brain, upset stomach, headache, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, the consumption of sugar, lack of exercise, any serious physical disorder, or allergies.
Heredity is a significant factor in this disorder. In up to 50 percent of people suffering from recurrent episodes of depression, one or both parents also experienced depression.
Whatever these factors that trigger it, depression begins with a disturbance in the part of the brain that governs moods. Most people can handle everyday stresses; their bodies re-adjust to these pressures. When stress is too great for a person and his or her adjustment mechanism, is unresponsive, depression maybe triggered.
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