Society’s views of mental illnesses like depression have varied widely over the millennia, with many cultures like the Chinese, Babylonians, and Egyptians believing that demons or spirits caused the problems. Beatings, shaking, and starvation were used to drive out the parasitic spirits. In the Greco-Roman era, the thought originated that these problems were caused by physical imbalances in the body fluid called the humors. Yet, Cicero believed that they were of psychological origin at the same time. However, in the Common Era, since the Catholic domination of the western psyche and culture in the Middle Ages, people again began to believe that demons, witches, and possessions were culprits. Exorcisms, drownings, and burning were the preferred treatments of the day.
The Renaissance and the subsequent Age of Enlightenment brought us a new way to denigrate these impaired people. We decided that they’re morally bereft and permanently damaged due to inheriting the condition of weak temperament. They should be locked in asylums away from good people. By the 20th century, there was a label for mania, and psychoanalysis was developed to explore the subconscious. Some believed that the problem was emotional, and others thought it was a brain disorder. As Freud proposed, cognitive and Behavioral therapy was developed by those who believe that the problem is conscious, not subconscious.
Since the 20th-century industrial science expansion, we have discovered that there are chemicals of communication: the neurotransmitters that directly control the nervous system activities. We also know that the endocrine communication molecules called hormones affect mood and consciousness. We also know that the immune system communicates with chemicals called cytokines. These also affect mood and cognition. We have developed an industry that creates pharmaceutical chemicals that interact with the same receptors in our nervous system that the natural chemicals use to communicate. Many chemicals alter the metabolism of our neurotransmitters, such as SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors). None of these chemicals address the root cause of mood issues but treat the symptoms.
Research today has shown us that many factors are involved in mood disorders. The label Major Depressive Disorder, MDD, describes a set of symptoms but does not include in the definition any information regarding pathophysiology - the causes of the disorder. The Health In Men Study (HIMS - https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/38/1/48/692392?login=false) studied 41,000 men in Western Australia. This study linked heath issues with mood and cognition changes. It revealed that many medical conditions are associated with depressed mood. Initially intended to study cardiovascular disease and aortic aneurysm, it revealed that a history of diabetes, cardiovascular events, elevated CRP, triglycerides, and homocysteine levels were associated with depressed mood. In addition, lower free testosterone levels were associated with triple the risk. Increased educational level, increased exercise, and lower saturated fat in diet correlate with less depressed mood.
So we see from this evidence that mood is not necessarily all in your head. Many metabolic factors align to create a mood. Psychospiritual factors are also directly involved. Loss is something that we all must live through. Grief is a natural response to loss. Grief may last years after a significant loss. I grieved for three years for the death of my best friend. Grief unaddressed may deteriorate into a depressed mood, but it is not MDD. Grief is treated with love. Good relationships and connection, which is sometimes difficult for the grieving, help heal grief, as do keeping a daily diet and exercise routine and sleep pattern. Being present for someone with mood issues is one of the best things we can do: just listen.
Many people are feeling grief and sad mood these days with the massive change going on in society. The pandemic and current economic changes are not going away, so we must deal with these challenges. There are many natural supports that we can use for mood. Testing of the chemicals of communication - neurotransmitters is available and can help direct nutritional support and pharmaceutical treatment. Testing for genetic predisposition for a mood disorder and appropriate treatment is a powerful addition to our toolkit. Micronutrient testing can assess the global nutritional status of the individual so we can support optimal brain health. There is no reason to suffer with a bad mood.