The term “depression” covers the whole range of negative human experience from “feeling blue” to terrifying anxiety and suicidal despair, as well as physical symptoms ranging from flu-like aches and pains to a sense of profound tiredness.

Depression tends to leave people feeling very cut off from the rest of humanity. But depression is not anyone’s fault; it is a recognized illness which can be effectively treated in a whole range of ways.

And as befits a complex condition, depression has a range of causes as wide as life itself. Stressful events which cause a deep sense of loss – such as bereavement, divorce, physical illness or the loss of a job – can trigger depression.

Chemistry also has a part to play in depression: when you feel very low, chances are that your brain is lacking in vital nerve messengers called neurotransmitters, although whether this is cause or effect is not clear.

How can we help?

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause depression, especially after periods of stress, when the requirement for B vitamins increases.

Deficiencies in particular are,  B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Copper, Iron, Manganese and Potassium.

Insufficient amounts can lead to low self- esteem, insomnia, excessive sleep, substance abuse, panic attacks, negative outlook on life, poor libido, appetite lack or increase, and fatigue.

Levels can be checked with blood tests.

If you are feeling under pressure, try to cut down on your work load and to take some time off.

Avoid tea and coffee and increase your intake of B vitamins (found in many foods, including cereals, wheat germ, milk, and green leafy vegetables) and Vitamin C (found in fresh vegetable and fruits, including tomato).

Make  the most of natural light by going outside whenever possible, especially at midday, or get a full-spectrum light box to use at home.