Infographic © herbs-info.com. Image sources: see foot of page
Clinical depression is a mental health issue that is often disregarded in the medical community (and society in general!) There is a stigma surrounding mental health problems like depression that people don’t seek immediate treatment once they start noticing signs and symptoms in themselves and other people. However, the truth of the matter is that millions of people are affected by depression all over the world.
According to research done by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) affects roughly 15 million adults in the US, with two out of three people with depression choosing not to seek medical treatment. The WHO estimates that 350 million people all over the world have depression, with 800,000 people dying each year because of suicide. The mental health burden is one every country should be aware of; just because an illness can’t be seen doesn’t mean the person affected isn’t suffering. Depression is just as real as heart disease or cancer. 
8 Warning Signs Of Depression: 
#1 – Feeling helpless or hopeless: Depression is often characterized in a pessimistic worldview – that nothing is going right or will ever go right. People who are depressed suffer from an overwhelming feeling (often fear-inducing) of hopelessness despite being in a world full of endless possibilities.
#2 – Losing interest in daily activities: Closely related to the first symptom, losing interest in daily activities is another warning sign of depression. Along with feelings of hopelessness and helpless is a sudden loss of interest in going to school or work – activities a person does on a day to day basis. Depressed individuals often think “Why bother?”
#3 – Changes in appetite: Feelings of depression can lead to appetite changes – your body may feel hungry but you just aren’t in the mood for anything. Not even favorite food items can improve your appetite. This is one of the main problems with depression – the physical effects it has on the body. Along with poor appetite is dramatic weight loss and compromised immune system.
#4 – Sleep pattern disturbances: People who are depressed often find themselves with a multitude of thoughts that prevent them from getting a good night’s sleep. They can toss and turn for hours but sleep will evade them.
#5 – Mood swings: Mood swings are a major characteristic of Bipolar disorder – which is characterized by periods of mania (extreme happiness) and depression. Chronic mood swings – from happiness to sadness, and even other emotions like anger can signify depression.
#6 – Lethargy: Lack of sleep and deteriorating physical health all add up to a feelings of lethargy – or very low energy. Being tired can be a sign that someone is going through emotional difficulties.
#7 – Behavioral changes: Acting out or being aggressive can also be a sign of depression. Teenagers and young adults who suffer from depression may act out and be aggressive towards others. People who are often described as “troublesome students” or “black sheep” maybe experiencing emotional or mental health problems.
#8 – Focusing and memory difficulties: You will notice that all the symptoms on this list are related to each other – and that most certainly includes this last item. Poor appetite, sleep disturbances, and low energy can lead to problems with memory and focus – resulting in poor school and work performance (which can be seen by others as “acting out”).
10 Foods For Fighting Depression
These foods have been extensively studied and can be helpful:
#1 – Chocolate: The best way to heal a broken heart is through chocolate! You will often hear girls saying that chocolate is a great way to curb sadness – and there is actually scientific evidence that supports that theory! Two different studies have found that chocolate can significantly improve a person’s mood, as well as alleviating chronic fatigue. 
#2 – Asparagus: You may find the presence of asparagus on this list to be strange but according to research it works! According to a published study by Singh, et. al. in 2009, asparagus has significant antidepressant activity, able to reduce stress and agitation in the test subjects. 
#3 – Green tea: Green tea is a great antioxidant – and a great antidepressant as well. Beyond tea’s relaxing properties, a study has shown that green tea was able to have a positive effect on people suffering from post-stroke depression, linked to green tea’s inherent antioxidant and phytochemical characteristics. The results of another study found that there was an inverse relationship between the prevalence of depression and green tea intake in the selected population. 
#4 – Avocado: It can be hard to find scientific studies that directly link avocados with a lower risk for depression but its omega-3 content has several. One of the most significant studies found that omega-3 fatty acids were an effective treatment for people suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and people with undiagnosed depression (but exhibit the warning signs). 
#5 – Oatmeal: Oatmeal has high folate or folic acid content, which has been linked to depression management caused by different factors or co-morbidities. In 2014, a study found that corticosterone treatment caused depression, depression that was significantly relieved by folic acid intake. Similar results were seen in a study in 2013 where folic acid was able to combat depression caused by stress and antioxidant imbalance in the brain. 
#6 – Strawberries: A study in 2012 found that strawberry intake was linked to a decreased rate of mental health decline with progressing age. The study estimated that strawberries were able to slow “mental aging” by two and a half years, attributed primarily to the high antioxidant content of the fruits. While the study didn’t focus on depression, advanced age and a decline in mental health has been linked to depression – something strawberries can apparently help manage. 
#7 – Cashews: Cashews are an excellent source of tryptophan – an amino acid that is synthesized by the body into serotonin, a neurotransmitter whose low levels has been linked to depression. A study actually found that people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder had low levels of tryptophan. By boosting your tryptophan intake, you can help reduce your risk for depression. 
#8 – Walnuts: A Polish study published last year in 2015 listed walnuts as a significant food item that could help in the management of depression. Walnuts, like avocados, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and can be included in the diet for risk reduction in terms of depression. 
#9 – Oranges: Oranges are one of the highest vitamin-C- containing fruits, known for its immune-boosting capabilities. However, ascorbic acid or vitamin C is able to help with depression as well, seen in a study published in 2015. The study found that treatment with ascorbic acid was able to reduce depressive symptoms caused by high levels of tumor necrosis factor. 
#10 – Blueberries: A recent study in 2015 by Tan, et. al. concluded that blueberry extracts were able to have positive effects on neuronal and mental health. The researchers discovered that blueberry extracts improved memory and hippocampal expression; the hippocampus being one of the areas of the brain that control emotions. These results suggest that blueberries can also help with the management of depression, which has been strongly linked to cognitive decline. 
 Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Depression statistics. http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_depression
 WHO. Depression Fact Sheet. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
 Mayo Clinic. Depression (major depressive disorder). http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/symptoms/con-20032977
 National Health Services. Clinical depression – symptoms. http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
 Sathyapalan, T., et. al. (2010). High cocoa polyphenol rich chocolate may reduce the burden of the symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21092175
 Scholey, A. & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24117885
 Singh, G., et. al. (2009). Antidepressant activity of Asparagus racemosus in rodent models. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18692086
 Di Lorenzo, A., et. al. (2016). Antidepressive-like effects and antioxidant activity of green tea and GABA green tea in a mouse model of post-stroke depression. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26626862
 Pham, N., et. al. (2014). Green tea and coffee consumption is inversely associated with depressive symptoms in a Japanese working population. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23453038
 Grosso, G., et. al. (2014). Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24805797
 Rosa, P., et. al. (2014). Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior induced by chronic corticosterone treatment in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25316305
 Budni, J., et. al. (2013). Folic acid prevents depressive-like behavior and hippocampal antioxidant imbalance induced by restraint stress in mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23142187
 Devore, E., et. al. (2012). Dietary intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582325/
 Ogawa, S., et. al. (2014). Plasma L-tryptophan concentration in major depressive disorder: new data and meta-analysis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25295433
 Muszynska, B., et. al. (2015). Natural products of relevance in the prevention and supportive treatment of depression. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26276913
 Moretti, M., et. al. (2015). TNF-α-induced depressive-like phenotype and p38(MAPK) activation are abolished by ascorbic acid treatment. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25836357
 Tan, L., et. al. (2014). Cyanidin-3-O-galactoside and blueberry extracts supplementation improves spatial memory and regulates hippocampal ERK expression in senescence-accelerated mice. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24709099