Depression Signs

Science Has Found a Blood Test to Diagnose Depression

For so long, depression has been looked at as an “all in the head” disorder, meaning it was all mental and there was no scientific proof of an individual’s depression. Often, doctors have to rely on signs and symptoms, as well as family and medical history to determine if the person fits into the criteria […]

Jan 09, 2014
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Parent Behaviors Linked to Kids’ Anxiety, Depression

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

Young people whose parents tend to fight with each other or are too involved in their kids’ lives are at increased risk of depression and anxiety, according to a new comprehensive review of past studies.

Kids tend to first experience depression or anxiety between ages 12 and 18, the authors write. They reviewed 181 papers published on potential links between how parents behave and which young people experience either disorder.

It’s impossible to say how important parenting is relative to other factors that might influence depression and anxiety, like bullying at school, study author Marie Yap said, but “it is clear from the wider body of research that by virtue of their role and presence in children’s lives . . . parents have an incredibly important role, both directly and indirectly.”

In the new analysis, stronger links were seen between parenting and depression, including sad moods and decreased interest in activities, as compared to anxiety.

Keeping constant track of kids’ whereabouts while giving them an autonomous say in family decisions were parent behaviors associated with lower levels of depression.

Parents who were harsher, fought more, were over-involved or generally “aversive” had kids who more often experienced both depression and anxiety, according to the review in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

“In our meta-analysis, (aversiveness) includes harshness, meanness, sarcasm, hostility, criticism, punishment and shaming or rejecting behaviors by the parent towards the teenager, as well as parent-teen conflict,” Yap said.

Identifying the exact parental factors linked to depression and anxiety could help prevention efforts, she said. However, the researchers noted that there are many factors involved in the development of anxiety and depression that can’t change.

Important messages from this study are that parents should try to be supportive, warm and open with their kids, give them clear guidelines and boundaries, but at the same time allow them freedom to learn from their own mistakes and not to over-control them.

“But the most important message for parents, perhaps by way of a caveat, is this: Don’t blame yourselves when things go wrong,” Yap said. “Such research evidence should be used to inform and empower parents in enhancing their children’s mental health, not to use for blaming them.”



Dec 19, 2013
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How to deal with depression in your 20s

The band Blink 182 said it best: Nobody likes you when you’re 23.

The period between ages 18 and 29 is the best ever: Many of us are developing a sense of independence in college, starting new jobs, scouting out the dating scene, or heading off to form new communities in new cities. On the other hand, this period is often characterized by financial woes, romantic misadventures, loneliness, and a sense of uncertainty about who we are and why we’re here. So it’s little surprise that people in their 20s and late teens are especially vulnerable to feelings of depression.

Terrible 20s

At one time, most people didn’t experience their first depressive episode until their late 40s or 50s; today, depression typically first appears around age 25.

Today’s 20-somethings are going through a number of psychosocial and biological experiences that make them especially vulnerable to depression. Depression is often triggered by loss and the period between 18 and 29 is filled with many potential losses: break ups with a significant other, losing friends, losing a job, failing school or not getting into an academic program.

Biological factors also come into play. Scientists have noted that the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for planning and reasoning, doesn’t fully develop until mid-20s. This means 20-somethings are faced with making some huge decisions when their brains haven’t reached full cognitive capacity.

In some cases, 20-somethings might not realize certain lifestyle factors that may contribute to depressive symptoms. Binge drinking tends to be most common and intense in people ages 18 to 24.

Your action plan

There’s a range of practical ways to alleviate feelings of depression. This list certainly doesn’t include every way, but it does highlight some of the most effective strategies for people of any age.

  • Phone a friend or family member
  • Get a move on with exercise
  • Hit the hay
  • Zen out with some yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, or Qigong
  • Try some herbal supplements
  • Chow down on a number of nutrients and food groups
  • Talk it out and try psychotherapy
  • Take antidepressants if the situation is appropriate

The Takeaway

Despite the pain it may cause, depression can actually be a useful signal that something in our lives needs to change; whether it’s a relationship, job, or some other aspect. Though it may be difficult to admit that we’re depressed, there are plenty of people, resources, and actions that we can take in order to help us live healthy, happy lives long after our 20s are over.




Oct 31, 2013
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Three Truths about Depression

October is known at National Depression Screening Month, and one in ten Americans suffers from depression. One of the most common misconceptions about depression is that you can just “snap out” of it, which simply is not true. Depression can prove to be a daily struggle for these people, and can even result is suicide, so this should be taken seriously.

  • Depression is more than a bad mood. When people are suffering from depression, they can look tired, irritable and sad. It is imperative for friends and family to understand that this is something that they sometimes cannot control, and they should not bring attention to their symptoms of depression, and this could send them into a deeper into their illness.
  • Depressing affects younger people as well. According to the American Psychological Association, one in 33 children suffer from depression, as well as one in eight adolescents. The number of younger individuals in school on medications for depression has increased ten percent in ten years.
  • Anger is often a sign of depression. Depression can often be a hard thing to deal with, and will result in frustration, which leads to anger. It is important for everyone to be allowed to expressed their feelings, but in a controlled manner that is not going to hurt others in the process. One must learn how to express their anger in a constructive manner, and seek help for this.

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Oct 23, 2013
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Is it Depression or Bipolar?

A new brain scan just might have the answer! According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburg, a new type of brain scan that measures blood flow in the brain might be able to help better diagnose bipolar disorder at an early stage and further distinguish the disorder from depression. Researchers evaluated 44 females, with 18 of the participants having bipolar disorder, 18 with clinical depression and 18 who were healthy individuals who acted as the control group. The participants were all experiencing a depressive episode as they were being assessed for the study. The new imaging method that was used is known as arterial spin labeling, which was designed to non-invasively measure blood flow in brain regions associated with depression. The researchers also used a novel analytical method known as pattern recognition analysis that allowed them to individualize brain differences.

The researchers found that they could identify with over 80% accuracy which of the participants were depressed and which of them had bipolar depression. Finding a correct diagnosis can often be difficult for a variety of reasons, including miscommunication between the patient and the doctor. Such as, patients with bipolar disorder sometimes interpret their manic phases as normal and will not discuss them with their doctors. Their findings also suggest that researchers may be able to predict future bipolar behavior in younger adults who are still symptom free, allowing for earlier and more accurate treatment.

Earlier and more accurate diagnosis can make a major difference for patients and their families. It may even save lives. These promising findings reveal the importance of neuro-imaging and its ability to help identify biological markers that are associated with mental health disorders. More testing of these new technologies in a larger sample and in a multi-center study are underway to gather more information.



Oct 02, 2013
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Common Depression traps to Avoid

Depression traps can vary from person to person, but what they do have in common is that they can serve to worsen your mood, perpetuating a vicious cycle. Here are some behavioral pitfalls that can often accompany depression and how you can steer clear of them as you work on getting back on track.

  • Social Withdraw: It is the most common telltale sign of depression. “When we’re clinically depressed, there’s a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down,” says Stephen Ilardi, PhD, author of books including The Depression Cure. Pulling away from others is the exact opposite of what you really need. “In depression, social isolation typically serves to worsen the illness and how we feel,” Ilardi says. “Social withdrawal amplifies the brain’s stress response. Social contact helps put the brakes on it.”

The Fix: Counteract social withdrawal by reaching out to your friends and family. Make a list of all the people in your life, who you want to reconnect with.

  • Rumination: This involves dwelling and brooding about themes like loss and failure that cause you to feel worse about yourself. It is a toxic progress that leads to negative self-talk. It can also cause you to interpret neutral events in a negative fashion.

The Fix: Redirect your attention to a more absorbing activity, like a social engagement or reading book.

  • Self-Medicating with Alcohol: Turning to alcohol or drugs to escape your woes is a pattern that can accompany depression and it usually causes your depression to get worse.

The Fix: Talk with your doctor if you notice that you drinking habits are making you feel. Alcohol can also interfere with antidepressants and anxiety

  • Negative thinking:  When you are depressed, you’re prone to negative thinking and taking yourself out of trying new things. “That’s a huge trap,” says Goulston, psychiatrist . “If you race ahead and anticipate a negative result, which then causes you to stop trying at all, that is something that will rapidly accelerate your depression and deepen it.”

The Fix: Don’t get too attached to grim expectations. “You have more control over doing and not doing, than you have over what the result of actions will be,” Goulston says psychiatrist . “But there is a much greater chance that if you do, then those results will be positive.”



Sep 30, 2013
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Healthy Foods That May Help Reduce Depression

Often times when we are depressed, we seek food to comfort us and make us feel better for a temporary amount of time. Most of the time, these foods are not healthy and leave us feeling lethargic. What if there were foods that could both comfort us and leave us feeling energized? The following are a list of foods may help us do so.

  • Nuts and Seeds: cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts etc. Nuts contain magnesium, which is a “feel good” chemical for the brain


  • Eggs: Eat eggs, and make sure you do not skip the yolk. The vitamin B and protein will help you feel energized for your day.


  • Fish: Salmon, anchovies, tuna, mackerel etc. These fishes are a great sources of protein, as well as helping stabilize the body’s blood sugar. The balance of sugar will in turn, help with a balance in mood.


  • Wheat Grains: barley, millet, teff, quinoa. These complex carbohydrates will increase the levels of serotonin in the brain.


Along with the foods previously mentioned, adding an active lifestyle with this will maximize your chances of becoming an overall happier person. Improving your physical health will help to improve your mental one.




Sep 24, 2013
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College Depression: What Parents Need to Know

Helping your child make the transition from high school to college can be difficult. Know how to identify whether your child is having a hard time dealing with this new stage in life, and figure out what you can do to help.


What is college depression and why are college students vulnerable to it?

Depression is an illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. College depression is depression that begins during college.


Students face many challenges in college. Pressures and anxieties can cause them to feel overwhelmed, and being in a new environment can make them homesick. They’re also adapting to a new schedule and workload and figuring out how to belong. Dealing with these changes during the transition from adolescence to adulthood can trigger or unmask depression in young adults.


What are the impacts of college depression?

Depression during college has been linked to:

  • Impaired academic performance
  • Smoking
  • Risky behaviors related to alcohol abuse, such as having unsafe sex

What are the signs that a student is dealing with college depression?

Untreated depressions interferes with normal day-to-day life. Signs and symptoms of this include:

  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy
  • Crying spells for no reason
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide


Sep 23, 2013
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10 Signs of Depression in Men

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

More than 5 million men in the U.S. experience depression each year. While the symptoms used to diagnose depression are the same regardless of gender, often the leading complaints can be different among men and women.

Here are 10 signs of depression in men.

1. Fatigue: People who are depressed experience fatigue, as well as a slowing down of physical movements, speech, and thought processes. Men are more likely than women to report fatigue and other physical symptoms of depression as their chief complaints.
2. Sleeping too much or too little: Sleep problems, like insomnia or excessive sleeping, are common depression symptoms.
3. Stomach or backache: Health problems like constipation or diarrhea, as well as headaches and back pain, are common in people who are depressed. Many men often don’t realize that chronic pain and digestive disorders are connected to depression.
4. Irritability: Instead of seeming down, men often show signs of irritability. Negative thoughts are a common aspect of depression, but men report feeling irritable because they are having negative thoughts constantly.
5. Difficulty concentrating: Psychomotor retardation can slow down a man’s ability to process information, thereby impairing concentration on work or other tasks.
6. Anger or hostility: Some men manifest depression by being hostile or aggressive. A man who realizes something is wrong may need to compensate by showing that he is strong or capable.
7. Stress: Men might be more likely to report symptoms of depression as stress. It’s not necessarily that they have more stress; it’s just more socially acceptable to report. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to stress can change the body and brain, which can in turn lead to depression.
8. Anxiety: Men may be more likely to experience anxiety because it’s often easier for men to talk about feeling anxious rather than sad.
9. Substance abuse: It can happen for both men and women, but using drugs or alcohol to mask uncomfortable feelings is a strategy men will employ instead of seeking health care.
10. Sexual dysfunction: Depression is a common reason for loss of desire and erectile dysfunction, and this is one symptom that men are prone to not reporting. However, ED can be the result of other medical conditions or medications, and ED by itself does not signal depression.

If you or any man you know suffers from these symptoms. It may be time to talk to a medical professional.


Sep 11, 2013
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7 Ways Seniors Can Get Out of Depression

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Almost 25% of people over the age of 65 suffer from one or more of the 5 Ds. These are disability, decline, diminished quality of life, demand on caregivers and dementia. More than 50% of doctor visits, by older people, are to complain about being depressed. Around 20% of all suicides are committed by people belonging to this age group and depression is cited as the main reason for deteriorating health amongst older people.

Use these 7 tips to help battle depression in your older years:

Separate the illness from depression. Depression is hard to diagnose because it may not have any physical ailments. An effective way to get out of depression, is treating the physical and mental symptoms simultaneously.

Control drinking. Because of their condition and loneliness, a lot of depressed older people may start to drink excessively or take various pills. Using both could have disastrous results.

Start exercising. Exercising is a healthy way for seniors to get out of depression. Elder people should be especially careful while exercising because nearly 33% suffer from falls. Some form of mild exercises can increase strength, sense of balance and confidence.

Treating sleeplessness. Older people usually have less deep levels of sleep. Depressions adds to this sleeplessness, and the greater the depression, the more sleeping problems arise. Cut down on caffeine and go to bed at the appropriate time to improve quality of sleep and fight depression.

Differentiate grief from depression. Feelings of grief like after a spouse has passed, will eventually dull, but depression persists indefinitely unless treated. It is essential to recognize the difference to effect remedial steps.

Keep photos of loved ones. This usually helps to resist depression. Photos generally trigger good or fond memories. The reminder leaves memories that can put a person in a better mood and ward off depression.

Be social. Research has proven that people who are outgoing and friendly usually do not suffer from depression. Losing family and friends is part of growing up and growing old. So making new friends is especially important for older people. That is a great buffer against depression.

Sep 10, 2013
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