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Posted by James on October 10, 2000 at 02:40:24:


Mental depression is characterized by altered mood. There is loss of interest in all usually pleasurable activities such as food, sex, work, friends, hobbies, or entertainment. Because short periods of disinterest are a normal part of life, this pattern must last for longer than two weeks for a person to be diagnosed with clinical depression.


The multiple causes of depression are not well understood. Currently, researchers believe that causes include genetic, familial, biochemical, physical, and social causes.


Primary depression describes unipolar with no known cause other than family history.
Secondary depression refers to symptoms that occur in response to a specific event or that have a recognizable organic basis. For example Cushingís disease, cancer and many other diseases may prompt depression. Prescription drugs or drug abuse may also lead to depression. Hypercalcemia (excess blood levels of calcium) caused by hyperthyroidism may lead to depression.

At Risk

People with a family history of depression have a higher risk, as do people with a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Prevention and Management


Eating disorders are often associated with severe depression. It is important to recognize the potential for inadequate nutrition during a depressive stage. Some anti-depressive drugs are monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. These drugs increase levels of norepinephrine and serotonin. Some foods (see below) also increase levels of these neurotransmitters and it may be beneficial to ensure that they are included in the diet.

Nutritional Influences:

There is evidence that folate deficiency and depression are related.
Pyridoxine is necessary for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. A deficiency of serotonin may cause depression.
A recent observational study indicated that vitamin B12 levels were low in hospitalized psychiatric patients. The same study indicated that those patients with the lowest levels had more affective disorders (such as depression) than those with normal levels.
One of the fist clinical symptoms of experimental scurvy in humans is depression. Other observational studies also indicate low levels of vitamin C may contribute to depression in some cases.
Inositol may be helpful in reducing depression.
Magnesium may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of depression.
St. Johnís Wort contains hypericin which may increase norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, that is an important mood regulator.

Additional Information

Additional information relating to this disease is available on request.

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