the main types of depression and mood disorders...

The Main Types of Depression & Mood Disorders

Major depression
» The person has had one or more major depressive episodes not better accounted for by another psychiatric disorder.
» There has never been a manic episode, a mixed episode or a hypomanic episode.

Bipolar disorder
» There are six different criteria sets of bipolar I disorder, each describing the most recent episode (all types include at least one manic episode, and some include major depressive episodes and / or hypomanic episodes as well).

» Bipolar II disorder includes major depressive episodes with hypomanic episodes (when there has never been a manic episode or a mixed episode).

Dysthymic Disorder
A depressed mood is present for most of the day, for more days than not (subjective or through observation), for a minimum of 2 years, during which two or more of the following are present:
» Poor appetite or overeating
» Insomnia or hypersomnia
» Low energy or fatigue
» Low self-esteem
» Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
» Feelings of hopelessness

During the 2-year period the person has not been without the above symptoms for more than 2 months at a time. There has never been a manic or hypomanic episode. No major depressive episode has been present during the first 2 years. The symptoms must not be due to the direct physiological effects of a substance or a general medical condition.

Cyclothymic Disorder
This is diagnosed when there have been many periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms that don’t meet the criteria for a major depressive episode for a minimum of 2 years, the person has not been without symptoms for more than 2 months at a time, and no major depressive episode, manic episode or mixed episode has been present during that time.

Other Commonly Occurring Types of Depression
» Seasonal affective disorder
» Postpartum depression
» Mood disorder caused by an underlying medical condition. An example being hypothyroidism.

How to Manage Depression
It is not possible to examine all the neurological pathways that may impact on depression in this small article, so it is sufficient to say that not all depression is a result of reduced activity of serotonin; rather there are many different pathways, and treatment must be individualised.

Milder depressive episodes that do not meet the criteria for a full-blown disorder, or depression linked to a temporary situation or nutritional deficiency, also need to be acknowledged and treated, and this is likely to be where the suggestions below will be extremely useful.

Diet can play an important role in depression. Here are some useful points:
» Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol, as they tend to adversely affect mood.
» Concentrate on balancing blood sugar by eliminating refined carbohydrates, eating small frequent meals and avoiding sugar.
» Eat mainly unprocessed foods (whole foods) and avoid preservatives and colourants.
» Include cold-water fish that are high in omega-3 fats such as salmon, tuna or mackerel in the diet. Include nuts and seeds (specifically flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts) and free-range eggs.
» Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains every day.

Supplements that can Help
» Sceletium
- it is thought to act as a natural selective serotonin release inhibitor (SSRI), and is frequently used for anxiety disorders to lessen the withdrawal effects of alcohol, nicotine and drugs. Do not take it with other psychiatric medications or with cardiac medications without checking with your doctor.

» SAM-e - thought to help by affecting the synthesis of neurotransmitters. High doses (above 1000mg daily) can cause jitteriness and insomnia. People with bipolar disorder shouldn’t use it without supervision because it can trigger mania.

» St John’s Wort  - useful for mild to moderate depression. It may interfere with up to half of all drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter and should not be taken continuously beyond 4-6 weeks.

» DHEA - this hormone is often recommended specifically for postmenopausal depression. It is not clear why it helps to boost mood and energy. Dosage: 25-100 mg a day. 

» Rhodiola - good for mild to moderate depression. More than 1500mg a day can cause irritability or insomnia.

» DMAE - converts to acetycholine in the brain – a lack of which often leads to anxiety and depression, amongst many other symptoms.

» Magnesium deficiency is fairly common amongst sufferers of depression. If you are taking calcium then supplemental magnesium is a necessity as this may aggravate an imbalance. Take the two minerals at different times. Take in citrate or chelate forms for best absorption.

Others:- Deficiency of
» Omega-3 Fatty Acids has long been linked to depression.
» B-Vitamins are necessary for enzymes to convert essential fatty acids into prostaglandins, which increase the brain’s serotonin and other neurotransmitter production. 

Raw cacao is rich in minerals and has many benefits - it is particularly good for depression. Cacao is high in magnesium, which is needed for serotonin production and balancing brain chemistry. It also contains anandamide (known as the ‘bliss chemical’) as well as tryptophan. 

Note: Many experts believe that diet & supplements can make a big difference in treating depression, though not every type. If you can connect your sadness to a particular event, such as the breakup of a relationship or a job loss, you are much more likely to find success with mood-boosting supplements. If your depression is unexplained however, you should be seeing a professional and asking serious questions, and not just popping supplements.

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