Depression

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Depression facts

  • A depressive disorder is a syndrome (group of symptoms) that reflects a sad, blue mood exceeding normal sadness or grief.
  • Depressive disorders are characterized not only by negative thoughts, moods, and behaviors but also by specific changes in bodily functions (for example, eating, sleeping, and sexual activity).
  • One in 10 people will have a depressive disorder in their lifetime, and in one of 10 cases, the depression is a fatal disease as a result of suicide.
  • Some types of depression, especially bipolar depression, run in families.
  • While there are many social, psychological, and environmental risk factors for developing depression, some are particularly prevalent in one gender or the other, or in particular age or ethnic groups.
  • There can be some differences in symptoms of depression depending on age, gender, and ethnicity.
  • Depression is diagnosed only clinically in that there is no laboratory test or X-ray for depression. Therefore, it is crucial to see a health professional as soon as you notice symptoms of depression in yourself, your friends, or family.
  • The first step in getting appropriate treatment is a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person, in fact, has a depressive disorder.
  • Depression is not a weakness but a serious illness with biological, psychological, and social aspects to its cause, symptoms, and treatment. A person cannot will it away. Untreated, it will worsen. Undertreated, it will return.
  • There are many safe and effective medications, particularly the SSRIs, that can be of great help in depression.
  • For full recovery from a mood disorder, regardless of whether there is a precipitating factor or it seems to come out of the blue, treatments with medications and/or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychotherapy are necessary.
  • In the future, through depression research and education, we will continue to improve our treatments, decrease society's burden, and hopefully improve prevention of this illness.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/5/2014

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Diet and Depression

How Food Can Help with Depression Symptoms

What you eat can affect your mood -- positively and negatively. For example, getting enough of certain types of food, like beans and fish, may help you manage depression symptoms. But getting too much sugar, bread, and pasta may lower your mood.

"There aren't any specific foods that fight depression," says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, CDN, a national spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of The Belly Fat Fix and Overcoming Binge Eating For Dummies.