Online Depression Test In 10 Questions

>> Monday, June 20, 2011

Do you think you may be suffering from clinical depression? This is a simple online depression test and it cannot replace in any way a formal psychiatric evaluation. This test is designed to give a preliminary idea about the presence of depressive symptoms that indicate the need for an evaluation by a psychiatrist. This test may help you identify any possible depression symptoms that you may be experiencing. As you take the depression test, answer each question as honestly as possible.

Q: Do you feel sad or irritable?

Q: Have you lost interest in activities once enjoyed?

Q: Have you experienced changes in sleeping pattern?

Q: Have you experienced changes in weight or appetite?

Q: Do you have feelings of guilt?

Q: Have you experienced fatigue or loss of energy?

Q: Are you unable to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions?

Q: Have you experienced restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others?

Q: Do you feel hopeless, or worthless?

Q: Have you had thoughts of suicide or death?

According to The National Mental Health Association, 5 or more 'yes' answers indicates that you may be suffering from depression.

This depression test is based upon information from Mental Health America. This depression test is not intended to diagnose depression or replace a visit to a mental health professional. You can use this information to open a dialogue with your physician.


Theories On The Neural Mechanism Of Depression

>> Sunday, June 19, 2011

Most of us feel depressed at least once in our lifetime. Down moods are a normal reaction to a painful loss but it is also normal for time to heal the emotional wounds and for people to go on with their lives. We all feel sad, unhappy or get the blues from time to time and that is OK. But there are those who can not get out of this dark pit, and they develop depression. These people lose their capacity to experiment pleasure without any apparent reason, sometimes they are incapable of completing basic activities, such as keeping the house clean or go to work, and an acute feeling of emptiness and despair takes hold on their lives.

There are two major theories that try to describe the neural mechanism of depression:

1. The monoamine hypothesis of depression predicts impairment in central monoaminergic function. This hypothesis connects depression of deficiencies in the absolute concentrations of norepinephrine and/or serotonin (5-HT) in the brain. In general though, the monoamine hypothesis of depression is not very accepted because of the low percentage (around 25%) of the patients that took antidepressants (antidepressants increase the levels of norepinephrine and/or serotonin in the brain) actually got better.

2. The diathesis-stress hypothesis of depression proposes that people have predispositions and vulnerabilities for illnesses (known as diatheses). These diatheses are not capable to cause the depression on their own. Merely possessing vulnerability for an illness alone is not enough to trigger that illness into action. If people predisposed to depression are exposed to stress early in their lives, their system gets sensitive and every time they are in a stressful situation reacts in an excessive way, producing more cortisol than it should and originating structural changes in the brain, especially in the hippocampus. The greater a person's inherent propensity for developing an illness, the less stress is necessary to get the illness started. Conversely, where there is a smaller susceptibility for developing an illness, a greater amount of stress is required to produce the illness. Until this critical amount of stress is reached (however much or little of it is necessary in a given case) people cannot be said to have an illness, and their vulnerabilities are said to be "latent" (hidden).

Unfortunately many doctors choose the treatment depending on the type of depression based on its severity and symptoms without looking into the causes of the depression. As depression is recognized as an illness by DSM-IV and it's common knowledge that in order to treat an illness you have to cut it's roots and treat the causes first, it is incomprehensible why depression is not taken more seriously.


25 Ways To Fight Depression

>> Saturday, June 18, 2011

I've put together a list that can hopefuly help you fight depression and guide you find the yellow brick road to a better and fulfilling life. However, they are not a solution in a bottle. Happiness is personal and situational. Whatever makes someone happy might make someone else sad. Whatever lifts your mood now might be extremly annoying later. Too much of a good thing can be bad.

1. Remember that you are not alone. Depression might make you feel that you are on your own, but that's just not true. You have family and friends in your life that love you and are ready to listen;

2. Ask for help. family, friends, a therapist, whoever makes you feel comfortable and talk about your depression like it's not in the room;

3. Cultivate supportive relationships. This is just not the right time to have negative and upset people around you. Being a little selfish from time to time can be good for you;

4. Explore your creativity. Painting, photography, drawing, knitting, writing a journal, dancing, ...... (you feel in the blanks) are very good ways to express what's on your mind. By exercising your imagination you not only get those creative juices flowing, you also loosen up some positive emotions. Creativity can beat depression;

5. Exercise daily: go to the gym, join a dance class, follow a tape at home, jog in the park (ask a friend to join, it's more fun like this), etc. It is one of the most important tips one can get;

6. Return to innocence. Play with a friend or a pet or do something fun for yourself. With depression, a person's creativity and sense of fun may seem blocked;

7. Laugh at yourself, laugh at life, watch a comedy, listen to some jokes. If you exercise your smile 5 minutes a day, eventually you will start smiling more often. And there are those who believe that the expression of an emotion triggers the emotion itself;

8. Practice detachment. We spend far too much time and effort trying to control things that aren't worth the struggle. Many things that worry you are not all that important if you come to think about it;

9. Try to sleep between 7 and 8 hours per night in a well ventilated, clean room (can avoid nightmares). Start by going to bed and getting up the same time each day;

10. Keep your house clean, even if you don't feel like doing the chores. I mean who feels like washing the dishes when depressed, but you will feel better when you see the results of your work, I promise you that;

11. Stay clean, wear your favorite clothes, put some makeup if you wish. Depressed people tend not to take care of themselves as they used to. But this is just the influence of the depression and you know it;

12. Eat a healthy, mood-boosting diet. Apart from scaring you depression away, these fruit and veggies could even help you lose the few extra pounds you were trying to get rid of for the past months;

13. Relax. Take a deep breath. Manage stress by practicing some relaxation techniques, watching a good movie, listening to your favorite music, painting, etc;

14. Try different perspectives over life. There is ALWAYS another solution, even if you can’t see it right now;

15. Go out just not to stay inside: take a long walk in the park, go window shopping, go real shopping, meet old friends over dinner, have a cake in a nice coffee shop, visit an art gallery or museum, check out a local event, etc;

16. Challenge negative thought patterns. Stop ruminating on each and every trouble comes your way. There are hundreads, even thousands of other things to think about and enjoy;

17. Keep a journal of your thoughts and feelings. Write down what you are sad about and what you are feeling. Write down what types of negative thoughts try to come into your mind;

18. Avoid alcohol and drugs at any cost. They are not the key to your depression. Also reduce the intake amount of coffe, tea, chocolate, Coke and any other activating substances;

19. Join a depression support group either offline or online (Facebook proves to be pretty helpful for some people). Being with others who are dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation;

20. Don't isolate yourself. Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. When you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell. But being around other people will make you feel less depressed;

21. Join a club and make new friends. Meeting new people both offline and online can help you think outside the box;

22. If you’re afraid you can’t control yourself, make sure you are never alone. Even if you can’t verbalize your feelings, just stay in public places, hang out with friends or family members, or go to a movie – anything to keep from being by yourself and in danger;

23. Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others does not make you a bad person. Depression can make you think and feel things that are out of your character;

24. If your feelings are uncontrollable, tell yourself to wait 24 hours before you take any action;

25. Take one step at a time. Be patient with yourself and set goals you can easily achive. Be smart in your fight against depression. Take baby steps. Not even Rome was built in one day;

If you know any other tips to fight depression, please feel free to leave a comment.


Depressed People Ruminate More On Their Troubles

>> Friday, June 17, 2011

We all have our ups and downs, good days and bad days, but when a fight with our better half, the kid's problems in school, loss of a dear one or even a sarcastic remark from a stranger becomes a big deal and takes over our life it's time to pause and re-evaluate our attitude. Fortunately most people get over these daily challenges and move on with their lives, but for some few of us, they become the pillar around which their whole life gravitates and they develop depression. A new study suggests that part of the reason people develop depression may be that they get stuck on bad thoughts because they're unable to turn their attention away.

People who don't recover from negative events seem to keep going over their troubles. Jutta Joormann, of the University of Miami says people with depression "basically get stuck in a mindset where they relive what happened to them over and over again. Even though they think, oh, it's not helpful, I should stop thinking about this, I should get on with my life - they can't stop doing it". It's like a loophole in which they get caught and they don't know how to escape.

It is possible that people who get stuck on negative thoughts have problems turning their mind to a new topic. Joormann and her colleagues thought people with depression might have a problem with working memory. Working memory isn't just about remembering a shopping list or doing multiplication in your head; it's about what thoughts you keep active in your mind.

Given a list of three words in a specific order, people with depression had trouble re-ordering the words in their head and took longer if they were asked to remember the words in reverse order which suggests a less flexible thinking than people without depression have. Depressed people also had a particularly hard time if words had negative meanings, like "death" or "sadness". It's like the words get stuck in their working memory. Needless to say, people who had trouble with this simple task are also more likely to ruminate on their troubles, keeping them present in their mind and in their life for longer and therefore suffering from their effects at a greater extent. Learning how to turn your mind away from negative thoughts might prove to be effective in easing depression's pains.


Psychotherapy Treatment For Depression

>> Thursday, June 16, 2011

Psychotherapy, or therapy for short, is often the first form of treatment recommended for depression. It is true that since the antidepressants came on the market many people have come to regard these medications as "therapy in a bottle", but the drugs are a quick and temporary fix, have side effects and on the long run they get to be more expensive than the good old talk.

Psychotherapy is an effective way to fight depression and it is practiced only by psychotherapists. During psychotherapy a licensed and trained mental health care professional helps you figure our the causes of your depression and teaches you ways to cope with it. Psychotherapy involves evaluating your thoughts and behaviors, identifying stresses that contribute to depression, and working to modify both.

Sometimes depression is triggered by a combination between the person´s life experiences and hereditary or chemical imbalances in the brain. In this case your health care professional will advice you on the medication that´s best for you. But the psychological and psychosocial aspects of depression are just as important as treating its medical cause and psychotherapy always helps.

Types of psychotherapy

Individual Therapy - involves only the patient and the therapist
Group Therapy - involves two or more patients that are able to share experiences and learn that others feel the same way and have had the same experiences
Marital/couples Therapy - this type of psychotherapy helps spouses and partners understand why their loved one has depression, what changes in communication and behaviors can help, and what they can do to cope
Family Therapy - because family is a key part of the team that helps people with depression get better, it is sometimes helpful for family members to understand what their loved one is going through, how they themselves can cope, and what they can do to help
Online Phone Therapy - this new type of psychotherapy is conducted by telephone or on a video chat, is cheaper than the traditional therapy and studies show that is nearly as effective as face-to-face consultations

Psichotherapy tips

Therapy is no quick fix; it requires time, effort, and regularity. It can take weeks, months, even years to sort our your problems. Psychotherapy is a working project; sometimes you can see results starting with your first session, sometimes it takes longer, but you will always move forward. Psichotherapy takes longer to begin to work than antidepressants, but there is evidence that suggests that its effects last longer. Antidepressants may be needed immediately in cases of severe depression, and the combination of therapy and medicine is very effective. Psychotherapy works best when you attend all of your scheduled appointments and you are an active participant.

As you begin therapy, establish some goals with your therapist. Then spend time periodically reviewing your progress with your therapist. If you don’t like your therapist’s approach or if you don’t think the therapist is helping you, talk to him or her about it and seek a second opinion if both you and your therapist agree, but don’t discontinue therapy abruptly.

A person's depression is highly treatable when he or she receives competent care. It is critical for people who suspect that they or a family member may be suffering from depression to seek care from a licensed mental health professional who has training and experience in helping people recover from depression. Simply put, people with depression who do not seek help suffer needlessly. Unexpressed feelings and concerns accompanied by a sense of isolation can worsen a depression; therefore, the importance of getting appropriate help cannot be overemphasized.


Chocolate Loves Depression

>> Thursday, May 13, 2010

I have news for all you chocolate lovers! Researchers showed that people tend to eat more chocolate as depressive symptoms increase, suggesting an association between mood and chocolate. Now this link is not clear, as the role of chocolate in depression (cause or cure?) has not been determined yet.

Dr. Golomb from the University of California says that this study "confirms long-held suspicions that eating chocolate is something that people do when they are feeling down. Because it was a cross sectional study, meaning a slice in time, it did not tell us whether the chocolate decreased or intensified the depression."

No differentiation was made between dark and milk chocolate. About 1,000 people who were not on antidepressant medications were asked questions regarding how many servings of chocolate they ate in a week. The researchers found no differences between the two sexes. The people with higher depression scores consumed almost 60% more chocolate that the ones that were found not to be depressed at all.

A 2007 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry showed that half of 3,000 people with depression said that chocolate actually made them feel better.

Chocolate might boost your mood or might trigger depression. The results are yet inconclusive. The best thing to do for now would be to enjoy your chocolate but to eat it in moderation.


Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Types, Causes

>> Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is an affective disorder that causes serious shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder is characterized by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated mood, clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania alternated with low mood depression episodes. Mixed episodes are also possible, in which manic episodes happen at the same time as depression episodes.

Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

Common signs and symptoms of the manic phase of the bipolar disorder include:

- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic or extremely irritable
- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s abilities or powers
- Increased levels of energy in spite of a decreased need for sleep

- Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up
- Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
- Unable to concentrate, easily distracted, low attention span
- Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
- Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences
- Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)
- Aggressive, intolerant or intrusive behavior
- Sexual drive may increase

Common signs and symptoms of the depression phase of the bipolar disorder include:

- Persistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, emptiness, worthlessness, social anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation
- Irritability
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Loss of interest in before enjoyable activities
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Physical and mental sluggishness
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of appetite or eating too much
- Sleep problems
- Concentration and memory problems
- Thoughts of death or suicide

Types of bipolar disorder

Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) is characterized by one or more manic episodes with or without major depressive episodes. A depression episode is not required for bipolar I disorder to be diagnosed, though it frequently occurs.

Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and severe depression) is characterized by hypomanic episodes and at least one severe depression episode.

Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) is characterized by numerous hypomanic episodes alternated with mild depression episodes. Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings.

Causes of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is usually diagnosed in the teen years or in early adulthood. Bipolar disorder is a complex condition and has no single cause. It appears that some people are genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder, though not everybody with an inherited vulnerability develops bipolar disorder. Some studies point to physical changes in the brain, other point to neurotransmitter imbalances, oversecretion of the stress hormone cortisol or abnormal hyperactivity in parts of the brain associated with emotion and movement coordination and low activity in parts of the brain associated with concentration, attention, inhibition, and judgment. Between the external environmental factors related to bipolar disorder is stress, substance abuse, traumatic/abusive experiences in childhood, medication, sleep deprivation and seasonal changes. One interesting theory proposes that people with bipolar disorder have a superfast biologic "clock" that influences their circadian rhythm of sleeping and waking.



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