How Your Doctor Will Diagnose Major Depression

An accurate diagnosis is the first step toward recovering from clinical depression.

Unlike health conditions marked by clear physical signs, major depression (also called clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or MDD) can be hard to diagnose. One reason is that the symptoms of major depression can look a lot like other health conditions — especially other types of depression or grief. Another reason is that many of the most important major depression symptoms have to do with how you feel emotionally, so a solid diagnosis depends on you sharing symptoms information clearly and openly with your doctor.

To diagnose major depression, your doctor will ask you several questions to help rule out other health conditions and pinpoint the type of depression you have. Your doctor may also conduct other medical and psychological tests to better understand what’s causing you to feel depressed. Here’s what to expect from a depression screening:

  • Questions about your symptoms. To be diagnosed with major depression, you must have certain symptoms for at least two weeks. Your symptoms must also be severe enough to interfere with normal activities, work, and your ability to take care of yourself. To make a major depression diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your feelings, thoughts, and behavior.
  • A physical exam. A physical exam won’t tell your doctor whether you have major depression, but it will help your doctor assess your overall health and rule out obvious illnesses and injuries that may be related to your depression. A physical exam is likely to include a check of your height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and abdomen.
  • Blood tests. Some health conditions, such as hypothyroidism (a slow thyroid) or kidney disease, can cause symptoms of depression, so your doctor may also want to do a blood test to check your hormones or complete blood cell count.

Many people don’t realize they have major depression, so some doctors include depression screening as a part of a regular office visit. Answering these two questions honestly if your doctor asks them can help you get the diagnosis and treatment you need:

  • In the past month, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • In the past month, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?

A “yes” response means you may need further depression screening.

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4 Foods for Better Immunity

Your immune system is responsible for helping fight off everything from the common cold to cancer. A tall order!

Send in some reinforcements so it doesn’t get battle fatigue. Here are four foods your immune system loves.

Sweet, Creamy, Steamy, Crunchy . . . Oranges, yogurt, tea, and pumpkin seeds are the order of the day when it comes to giving your immune system a treat, according to experts Michael Roizen, MD, and Mehmet Oz, MD, authors of the best-selling (and now newly expanded and updated) YOU: The Owner’s Manual. Here’s how these four superfoods help:

  • Oranges are chock-full of vitamin C, an antioxidant vitamin that helps your immune system fend off disease-causing invaders. Other good C options: bell peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe, and broccoli. Or take 400 milligrams of vitamin C three times daily.
  • Yogurt (unpasteurized) contains Lactobacillus acidophilus — a healthy bacterium that helps thwart fungus-related infections. Or take a 20-milligram acidophilus supplement twice daily.
  • Tea is full of flavonoids, powerful vitamin-like substances that reduce immune-system aging. You’ll also find them in oats, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, and berries.
  • Pumpkin seeds are great year round, not just at Halloween, because they contain zinc — a nutrient that’s been shown to help reduce the average length of the common cold.

A Healthier Way to Stay Energized

Say “get iron,” and most people think they need a side of beef — or at least a hefty plateful — to stave off fatigue and refuel their immune system. The fact is, you don’t need red meat at all to get plenty of iron to power you through your fusion yoga class, four client presentations, dinner with your in-laws (but you might need some red wine here), a walk with the dog, and maybe another type of romp or two in a day.

Too much red meat can overload you with heme iron, a form of the mineral that can boost your risk of type 2 diabetes. We know you already know that meat can overload you with saturated fat.

Fortunately, heme iron is far easier to dodge than the perfume-spritzing people at the mall. Plant-based foods contain only nonheme iron, which is free of any dirty links to diabetes. It’s pretty easy for men to get what they need — about 8 milligrams (mg) of iron a day — from food: A cup of cooked spinach alone contains 6.4 mg, versus 3.4 mg for a burger. Other good options: kidney beans (3.6 mg per half cup), oatmeal (3.4 mg per cup), and almonds (1 mg per ounce).

However, premenopausal women need about 18 mg a day, so taking a multi with iron is smart, especially since iron from plants tends to be harder to absorb than iron from meat. Help your body soak it up with these tricks:

1. Eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods. (Think oatmeal and OJ, chili with beans. See? It’s easy.)

2. Calcium blocks absorption of iron, so separate your calcium supplement and your spinach by a few hours.

3. Coffee and tea interfere with iron, so keep those apart, too.

Can You Recognize Major Depression Symptoms?

The signs of major depressive disorder may surprise you.

When you’re depressed, you expect to feel sad, blue, or down in the dumps — a state known as dysphoria. You may also suffer from anedonia, which is a lack of interest or pleasure in almost all activities, most of the day. These are two hallmarks of depression.

To be diagnosed with major depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) and clinical depression, you must experience at least five depressive symptoms from the following list, including dysphoria and anhedonia. These symptoms must be present most of the day nearly every day for at least two weeks:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest, particularly in activities you typically enjoy
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling restless, agitated, irritable, unable slow down
  • Fatigue, loss of energy, or feeling tired all the time
  • Feelings of  hopelessness, worthlessness  or guilt
  • Impaired concentration and difficulty making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

To be classified as MDD, these symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning. A formal clinical depression diagnosis will also rule out other medical causes of depressed mood, including medication side effects, substance abuse, or a medical condition, such as an underactive thyroid. Finally, the symptoms should be distinguished from the grief or bereavement associated with loss of a loved one or extraordinarily stressful life events.

Filter Out Distractions and Interruptions to Improve Memory

Filter Out Distractions and Interruptions to Improve Memory

By Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD

Feeling scatterbrained? If you’re having difficulty focusing on a good book, the nightly news, or even your spouse because the kids, pets, phone, TV, flashing e-mail, and more are driving you to distraction, don’t blame the interruptions. It turns out that a prime reason for midlife concentration lapses and late-life memory problems is an increasing inability to filter out the clutter — both human and digital distractions.

A growing stack of studies shows that although 30-something brains can focus on a topic with laser-beam precision while ignoring multiple distractions, older brains have frayed mental filters that let other information in, no matter how hard they’re trying to concentrate. It’s like looking at the world (or at least that pile of paperwork) through a wide-angle lens that also sees the unwashed dinner dishes, the beautiful sunset, the accountant’s memo, or the article you’ve been meaning to read.

Try This 4-Step Meditation Plan for Sharper Focus

American and Canadian researchers stumbled onto this concentration issue while using MRIs to scan people’s brains as they performed memory-related problem-solving tasks. Older people in the study couldn’t concentrate inside the banging, clanging MRI machines, even when wearing earplugs. Their brain scans revealed the extra mental effort used as they tried to filter out the distracting noise, tipping off researchers to the mental challenges of concentrating.

Here’s how to both minimize age-related distraction problems when you need to focus and how to put them to use when you need to think and see the big picture:

  • Turn off distractions. You can recapture much of your sharp focus by removing distractions when you have to do mental work. Don’t pay bills while watching TV. Turn off the radio when you’re starting an important conversation with your spouse or when you’re loading new software onto your computer.
  • Clear your desk, organize your house. Visual clutter can slow down your mental capacity so that decision-making takes more time and effort. Give your brain cells less to ponder by sweeping unnecessary stuff from your workspace, cooking area, computer desktop, closets, and even your car.

Banish Interruptions: 7 Steps to a More Organized Life

  • Turn distractibility into a mental asset. Harness your well-seasoned brain’s ability to retain lots of information by giving “multisensory learning” a whirl. That’s when you use several senses at once to enhance learning and memory. Instead of reading a long magazine article about the growing list of presidential candidates, watch an in-depth TV show about them. Getting the audio and the visual is an asset in this case.
  • Enjoy seeing the forest, not just the trees. Having a more flexible mental filter in place means you take in more pleasure, too. Whether you’re walking in the woods, biking on the boardwalk, or people-watching, chances are you’re noticing more than you did in your 20s and 30s. Savor it!

Can Food Help You Manage Depression Symptoms?

Interesting articel I found while searching for my previous post.

Can Food Help You Manage Depression Symptoms?

Learn how nutrients in healthy foods can play a role in your major depression treatment plan.

Research shows that several essential nutrients may affect your mood. If you’re being treated for major depression, some ways of eating may even add to the effectiveness of your medications. While it’s difficult to know exactly how much food contributes to your mood and mental health, the evidence is fairly strong for the following nutrients.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids You’ve probably noticed everything from designer cereal to bread, eggs, and milk labeled high in omega-3. “These essential fatty acids are vital to good health in so many ways,” notes Amy Ogle, MS, RD, a San Diego-based dietitian and personal trainer. “They promote healthy cell membranes and help reduce the low-grade inflammation caused by a chronically poor diet, stress, illness, and depression.” With respect to major depression specifically, the omega-3s DHA and EPA seem to be lead players. Your brain’s neural membranes depend on DHA for structure and function, which may help with cell communications.

Good sources of omega-3s include fatty fish, such as salmon, and designer foods fortified with omega-3s.

Vitamin B12 This water-soluble vitamin is important to red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis. It may also help balance the level of neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, dopamine) in your brain. In a large study, women age 65 years and older who were deficient in vitamin B12 were two times as likely to be severely depressed as the women who were not deficient.

Good sources of B12 include fortified breakfast cereal and foods of animal origin.

Folate Another water-soluble B vitamin, folate occurs naturally in foods. Folate is required to produce new cells in your body, as well as RNA and DNA. Like B12, folate affects your brain’s neurotransmitters, which play a role in depression. Some research shows that adding a bioactive folate supplement to your depression treatment plan may reduce depression symptoms.

Good sources of folate include fortified grains, leafy green vegetables, and dried beans.

Selenium Selenium is a trace mineral used to make selenoproteins (important antioxidants). In a recent study, women with low dietary intakes of selenium were three times as likely to develop major depression.

Good sources of selenium include seafood, meat, poultry, nuts, and grains from varying regions (soil levels of selenium vary by location).

Other Minerals Minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc found in a normal diet also support physical and mental vitality. Not getting enough of these nutrients can increase your risk of depression symptoms due to health conditions such as iron-deficient anemia. Be cautious of getting too much of a supplement. Avoid multivitamins and supplements that provide more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) unless prescribed by your doctor.

Importance of Varied Diet Eating a well-balanced diet with a lot of variety — including 12 ounces of fish or seafood a week — will likely ensure you have sufficient nutrition. For women specifically, certain life stages can make you more vulnerable to depression. “Try to be proactive about protecting your nutrition,” Ogle suggests. “Find exercise options you enjoy.”

Foods That Fight Pain

After posting my previous post on Chronic Pain. I started to do a little more reseach and found some interesting stuff.  As we all know, what you eat can help or hurt you.  I have found out that if I load up with vitamine C mainly in fruits I can manage my depression much better.  So I was wondering if other foods can help relief pain.  I found some soothing foods one should include in there chronic-pain-management strategy.  Afterall we all need to eat, it’s worth a try.

Whole grains are a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown in aimal studies to short-circuit muscle pain.

When it comes to spices with potential pain-relieving properties, go for the gold: ginger and turmeric. Ginger contains a quartet of substances (gingerols, paradols, shogaols, and zingerone) that have analgesic qualities similar to aspirin or ibuprofen.

Turmeric — a spice used in Indian and Thai curry dishes — contains curcumin, another ginger-family member that may also help nip pain in the bud.

Strawberries are chock-full of vitamin C, an antioxidant with powerful pain-reducing properties, according to research. Some studies suggest vitamin C may help people experience less pain after breaking a bone or having orthopedic surgery.

Spinach or arugula salad for a jolt of vitamin K. Vitamin K also helps maintain strong bones and healthy joints. In one study, older adults with ample blood levels of K were less likely to develop osteoarthritis, compared to a low-in-K control group.

Yogurt and other dairy foods contain two bone-building nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. Not only does vitamin D do more than buoy bone strength, it may also play a role in diminishing chronic pain, according to some study findings.

The resveratrol in wine, grapes, and grape juice may have an analgesic effect similar to aspirin, according to a handful of animal studies. But if you add resveratrol to your list of pain-busting nutrients, just watch how much of it you get from red wine. Experts recommend no more than one daily glass of wine for women, men can get a little more.