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Resources for an Online Depression Quiz and 8 Ways to Boost Mood Naturally

By Fitoru | 21 January 2019
depressed lady crying in bed

The World Health Organization states that more than 300 million people globally suffer from depression and that depression is the leading cause of disability. Depression entails more than just feeling sad. It’s a serious medical illness that affects your actions, thoughts, and emotional well-being. An online depression quiz may give you some insight into your current mental state, but it is not a replacement for talking to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

What Is Depression?

Major depressive disorder is the official medical term for depression. Depression doesn’t discriminate based on age or race, but it may affect women more than men. In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association, as many as one-third of women will have a major depressive episode during their lifetimes.

The official depression definition states that depression is a mood disorder that causes “a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” Depression may also be referred to as clinical depression. Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe, and some people may have trouble finding motivation and connecting with loved ones.

Types of Depression

The National Institute of Mental Health notes that depression can take different forms and present as different symptoms. Here are seven of the most common types of depression.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder does fall under a separate mental health classification, but bipolar disorder causes episodes of low mood or deep depression. Bipolar disorder presents as severe mood swings, and the episodes of low mood are followed by intense euphoria or manic behavior.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder, or dysthymia, occurs when depression symptoms last two years or longer. In some cases, the severity of the depression may waver, but the actual feelings of sadness persevere.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression was once called “baby blues” much to the disservice of women across the globe. After giving birth, women can experience major depressive disorder that causes extreme feelings of anxiety, exhaustion, and sadness. Postpartum depression can make it difficult for new mothers to care for themselves and their babies.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, occurs during winter months when there are fewer daylight hours (and more inclement weather). Research links SAD to vitamin D deficiency, which makes sense as vitamin D is created from sunrays. SAD can cause weight gain, carb cravings, anxiety, decreased libido, increased fatigue and sleep, and social withdrawal.

Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD, is a childhood mood disorder that results in heightened and frequent eruptions of anger, irritability, and “intense temper” tantrums. Symptoms of DMDD include verbal or behavioral outbursts that occur several times per week and last for 12 months or more. DMDD is a relatively new diagnosis according to the National Institute of Mental Health and requires a diagnosis and proper treatment. Children with DMD have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders as adults.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, can cause disabling symptoms—both physical and mental. The symptoms often occur 7 to 10 days before menses begins and last the first few days. The emotional symptoms include extreme hopelessness, sadness, moodiness, anxiety, tension, and marked irritability. If you have underlying depression and anxiety, you are at a greater risk for PMDD.

What Causes Depression?

According to Harvard Medical School, depression can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Chemical imbalances
  • Faulty mood regulation in the brain
  • Genetic vulnerability to depression
  • Stressful life events
  • Early childhood trauma
  • Limited exposure to daylight (SAD)
  • Medical problems
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Parathyroid disorders
  • Adrenal gland disorders
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Viruses and infections
  • Cancer
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Prescription drugs including prednisone and over-the-counter appetite suppressants

Signs of Depression in Teens

Be mindful of emotional changes in your teen if he or she:

  • Cries often, for no apparent reason
  • Demonstrates increased irritability or frustration
  • Expresses feelings of hopelessness
  • Has outbursts of frustration or anger
  • Loses interest and pleasure in “fun” things
  • Self-criticizes or demonstrates low-self esteem
  • Fixates on past failures
  • Pulls away from friends and family
  • Shows heightened sensitivity to failure or rejection
  • Appears fatigued
  • Sleeps too much
  • Exhibits changes in appetite
  • Starts using alcohol or drugs
  • Begins performing poorly in school
  • Pays less attention to hygiene and appearance
  • Participates in self-harm

Depression Symptoms

Depression can take many forms and cause a variety of symptoms beyond sadness.The Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists the following as common symptoms of a major depressive episode.

  • Persistent sadness or anxiousness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities and hobbies
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering
  • Insomnia
  • Low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Suicide attempts
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms, including headaches, digestive disorders, and pain that don’t respond to treatment

Sources for Online Depression Quiz and Tests

If you are concerned that you may be clinically depressed, you can take one of the online depression tests below. Please understand that these tests cannot give you a definitive diagnosis of depression. Visit your physician or a licensed mental health provider for an accurate diagnosis and to rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing depression symptoms.

8 Natural Ways to Boost Mood

Depression is a serious medical condition and treatment must be overseen by a qualified physician, psychologist, or psychologist. The following natural remedies may be helpful in boosting your mood in conjunction with professional treatment in the form of medications and talk therapy.

1. Probiotics

The gut-brain axis is much discussed in relation to gut health. But now, researchers know that poor gut health also affects mood and can cause depression. In a systematic review of randomized controlled trials, researchers found that taking probiotics significantly reduces depression scores in those under the age of 60. The systematic review contained a variety of doses. For best results start with 50 billion CFU a day and add probiotic-rich foods like kefir, yogurt, and kimchi to your diet.

2. Vitamin B12

Researchers from the Western Australia Centre for Health & Aging have found through a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials that vitamin B12 and folate supplements are helpful for long-term management of depression. The review, published in the journal International Psychogeriatrics, notes that short-term use of supplements does not improve adult depression symptoms in those under treatment with antidepressants—but that prolonged use of vitamin B12 and folate may decrease the risk of relapse.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is one of the most critical nutrients in the human body. It supports the proper functioning of many systems, such as the cardiovascular and endocrine systems, as well as brain biochemistry. Magnesium deficiency has long been recognized as a potential cause for depression, and now researchers have identified that magnesium supplements may enhance the efficacy of conventional antidepressants.

4. Exercise

Being physically active helps to reduce stress and temporarily boosts endorphins—the ultimate feel-good hormones. And research shows that regular exercise may help the brain “rewire” itself in a way that boosts mood.

According to Harvard Medical School, low-intensity exercise sustained over time spurs the release of growth factors in the brain that cause new connections to be made. Neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain experiences improved nerve cell connection with regular exercise, which can help relieve depression. Aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise at least three days a week, preferably five or more days a week.

5. Yoga

Yoga is recognized as a stress-relieving and mood-boosting activity. Research now supports yoga as a complement to traditional depression treatments. Scientific studies vary in the scope of participants, the type of yoga practiced, and the number of times per week yoga is practiced. Here are highlights from recent studies on yoga and depression:

  • 8 weeks of hatha yoga in adults with mild-to-moderate major depression resulted in clinically significant reduction in depression severity.
  • Mind-body interventions including yoga and tai-chi may provide a psychological benefit to stroke victims by improving quality of life. Researchers note that more rigorously designed randomized controlled trials are needed.
  • A joint randomized controlled study from Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Columbia University, and others prestigious institutes showed that yoga offers promise in the treatment of major depressive disorder. The study, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, used Iyengar yoga plus breathing intervention and found that the combo may reduce suicidal ideation.

6. Eat More Serotonin-Enhancing Foods

Psychology Today explains that many prescription antidepressants, including Prozac, work by increasing serotonin levels, and that adding specific foods to your diet can boost serotonin naturally—but stay away from caffeine, as caffeine is known for reducing serotonin levels. Psychology Today recommends:

  • Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids (wild-caught salmon, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines)
  • Coconut oil
  • High-protein diet
  • Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan (free-range turkey)

7. Vitamin D and Sunshine

As mentioned above, a vitamin D deficiency is linked to seasonal affective disorder, but a deficiency in vitamin D may contribute to other types of depression too. Aim for at least 15 to 20 minutes a day of sunshine on your skin, without sunscreen.

8. Mindfulness Meditation

A small study published in the Journal of Nursing Education has identified that mindfulness meditation was more effective than physical exercise in managing depression. The study recognizes that depression is common in nursing students. The researchers note that both physical activity and meditation helped, but that by far, meditation was more effective.

Coping with Depression

If you are depressed and in crisis, reach out to a depression hotline via phone, a crisis text line, or through an online chat—you are not alone.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • TTY for Hearing & Speech Impaired: 800-799-4889
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline CHAT
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • IMALIVE Online Chat: IMALIVE Online CHAT
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990
  • The Trevor Project for Suicidal LGBTQ Youth: 866-488-7386
  • National Hopeline Network Depression Hotline: 800-442-4673

If you are a parent and are concerned about your young child or teenager, talk to your doctor immediately. Depression is treatable at any age. Depression symptoms in children and teens can differ significantly from depression symptoms in adults. If you are concerned about your adolescent or teen, look for these changes in behavior as they may be signs of depression:

  • Cries often, for no apparent reason
  • Demonstrates increased irritability or frustration
  • Expresses feelings of hopelessness
  • Has outbursts of frustration or anger
  • Loses interest and pleasure in “fun” things
  • Self-criticizes or demonstrates low-self esteem
  • Fixates on past failures
  • Pulls away from friends and family
  • Shows heightened sensitivity to failure or rejection
  • Appears fatigued
  • Sleeps too much
  • Exhibits changes in appetite
  • Starts using alcohol or drugs
  • Begins performing poorly in school
  • Pays less attention to hygiene and appearance
  • Participates in self-harm such as cutting, pulling out hair, or excessively scratching skin

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