Sunday, October 21, 2007

Baked Eggplant Parmesean

1 Eggplant- sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1 cup Low Moisture, Part-Skim Mozzarella- shredded
1/2 cup Parmesean- shredded
1 jar Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Italian Seasoning

Lightly salt sliced eggplant on both sides and let stand on a paper towel for 30 minutes. Dip moistened eggplant into breadcrumbs and cover both sides. Drizzle with olive oil and baked on a non-stick cookie sheet at 350F for 20 minutes or until brown (no need to flip). In baking dish, starting with sauce, layer eggplant, cheese and seasoning. Repeat until all eggplant is used. Finsh with sauce and cheese on top layer. Baked at 350F for 50 minutes.

White Chicken Chili

8 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast- cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cans Garbanzo Beans- drained
2 cans Navy Beans- drained
2 cans Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 cup Water
2 cans White Corn
3 (4 oz) cans Diced Green Chilis
1 White Onion- thinly sliced
2 Cloves Garlic- minced
1 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Cumin
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Parmesean Cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Saute onion, garlic and cumin in olive oil until onions are translucent. Combine chicken, beans, corn, chilis, pepper, Louisiana hot sauce, water and chicken broth in Dutch oven. Add onion mixture to it. Stir well. Cover and cook for 50 minutes. Top with fresh grated parmesean.


3 Zucchini- quartered and sliced
6 small Yellow Squash- halved and sliced
1 lb Whole Mushrooms- cleaned and halved
1 Red Onion- thinly sliced
2 cans Tomato Sauce
2 cans Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1/2 tsp Garlic- minced
1 tsp Marjoram
1 tsp Oregano
Thin Sliced Low-Moisture, Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Brown or White Rice- Cook as directed and serve with Ratatouille

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot and cook on med-high for about 25 minutes or until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and layer the top with cheese slices. Allow cheese to melt and serve over brown or white rice.

Corn Shrimp Soup

2 lbs Small or Medium Shrimp- uncooked, peeled, deveined
2 (14 oz) cans Diced Tomatoes
1 Red Onion- chopped
4 Stalks Celery- chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper- chopped
2 Cloves Garlic- minced
1 can Sweet Yellow Corn
1 can Cream Corn
1 can Green Chilis- diced
1 bunch Scallions- chopped
2 cans Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/4 tsp Ground Red Pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire
1 cup Water
1/4 tsp Black Pepper

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook 4-6 hours.

Spinach Dip

1 box Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 carton Fat-Free Sour Cream
1 can Waterchestnuts- peeled and sliced
1 envelope Good Seasons Ranch Mix

Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess moisture. Add to sour cream and mix. Stir in ranch dip mix. Chop waterchestnuts and add to sour cream mixture. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Homemade Soft Pretzels

2 tbsp Warm Water
1 1/3 cups Warm Water
1 package Dry Yeast
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
5 cups Flour (3c Wheat/2c White)
1/2 cup Baking Soda
Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 475F. Mix 2 tbsp water with dry yeast to dissolve. Stir in the rest of the warm water and brown sugar. Mix in flour until it forms a ball. Knead until smooth. Use cooking spray to coat 2 cookie sheets. Bring large pot of water and baking soda to a boil. Using about a golf ball size of dough, roll and form into the shape you choose. Carefully drop the shaped dough into the water for 30 seconds or until they rise to the top. Put on the cookie sheets and sprinkle with salt. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

2 cups Unbleached Flour
1 cup Brown Sugar- packed
1 tbsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Cloves
1 (15oz) canned Pumpkin
1/2 cup Skim Milk
2 Eggs Whites- whipped
1/3 cup Fat-Free Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare bundt pan or loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in large mixing bowl. In medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, skim milk, egg whites and sour cream. Spoon the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and mix just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ADD and ADHD: Do Foods Make a Difference?

Do you know a teenager who has an inability to stay focused on a given task? Were you a child who found it impossible to sit still in your seat during school? Are you being told your child has a discipline problem? These are common complaints heard by physicians all over the world. After thorough testing and evaluation, the physician may give a diagnosis of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

While these children often see an improvement with the addition of medications, little emphasis is ever put on the value of a sound diet. There is some evidence that there could nutrients missings from one's diet that could help with some of the side effects of ADD/ADHD. Some research has even shown that certain foods may even be triggers for some symptoms.

The following article written by Susan Kundrat discusses some of the research being done that draws a link between the cause and effect of nutrition on this disorder.

From the website:
"Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, LDN , CSSD, is the President and founder of Nutrition on the Move, Inc. A Licensed, Registered Dietitian, Susan has a passion for helping clients learn to eat to enhance overall health and wellness. Susan is a member of the Gatorade Sports Nutrition Board."


"Medication can control many symptoms, but doesn’t address the underlying causes and may result in side effects. Therefore, many parents and health practitioners are looking for diet-based alternatives..."

To continue reading this article, click on the website below:

Properly Fuel Your Body

There are so many variables that play a roll in a team's overall performance and success. Coaches often focus their attention on the technical aspects of the game, who is the best player for a given scheme and perhaps even motivate them through inspiring speeches.

An area that is sometimes overlooked by coaches is the importance of fueling their athletes. What if they have not eaten a sound pre-game meal? What happens if the athlete has not prepared for the event by increasing their fluid intake? Evidence that shows what an athlete eats and drinks before and after an athletic event can have a major impact on their performance.

This article by Susan Kundrat outlines the importance of the following topics:

  1. Hydration
  2. Foods for High Energy
  3. Quick Snack Ideas
  4. Foods to Have On-Hand

From the website: "Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, LDN , CSSD, is the President and founder of Nutrition on the Move, Inc. A Licensed, Registered Dietitian, Susan has a passion for helping clients learn to eat to enhance overall health and wellness. Susan is a member of the Gatorade Sports Nutrition Board."


"People who are involved in an exercise program for fitness and health can learn to maximize their training efforts and get more out of a workout by learning to fuel their bodies with the right foods and fluids...."

To continue reading this article, click on the website below:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tomato Salsa

1 lb Tomatoes- peeled if desired, seeded and chopped
1 small Onion- minced
1 Jalapeno Chili- seeded and minced
1 tbsp Lime Juice
2 tbsp chopped coriander (if desired)

In a bowl, toss the tomatoes, onion, chili pepper, lime juice, coriander and salt (to taste) and let salsa stand for at least 30 minutes. Serve.

Tortellini with Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

1 (9 oz) pack Three-Cheese Tortellini
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1/2 to 3/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
2 cups Cherry Tomatoes- halved
1/4 cup Fat-Free, Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 tbsp Fresh Basil- chopped
1/4 tsp Salt
1 (6 oz) package Fresh Baby Spinach

Cook tortellini according to package directions. While tortellini cooks, heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper; saute 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, broth, basil, salt, and baby spinach to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until baby spinach wilts. Stir in tortellini and cook 1 additional minute.


1 (15 oz) can Chickpeas (about 2 cups)
1 Lemon
2 tbsp Tahini
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 small Garlic Clove
Small Handful of Fresh Parsley Leaves
1/4 tsp Salt
Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Ground Cumin
Paprika (optional)

Drain chickpeas in colander and rinse. Drain again, then remove 1 tbsp of chickpeas and set aside. Place the remaining chickpeas in food processor. Cut lemon in half and squeeze out juice into food processor being careful to remove seeds. Add tahini, olive oil, garlic clove, parsley, salt, pepper and cumin to chickpea mix. Process mix for 20 seconds. Remove lid and scrap down sides with rubber spatula and puree for an additional 20 seconds. Add remaining chickpeas and pulse for 3 seconds. Spoon hummus into serving dish. Sprinkle with paprika (optional).


1-2 Ripe Avocados
1 Medium Tomato
1/2 Medium Red Onion
2 tsp Lime Juice (can use fresh lime)
1 Small Garlic Clove
1 Green Chili Pepper- seeded and chopped
Black Pepper
Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, all around the pit. Twist gently and pull apart. Remove the pit. Using a spoon, scoop around the inside of the skin and remove flesh and put into a bowl. Gently mash with a fork into a lumpy puree. Add chopped onion and chopped green chili to puree. Cut the tomato into quarters. Trim off the core then cut each quarter into 8 to 10 chunks. Add to avocado. Add 2 tsp of lime juice to the avocado mixture. Peel garlic and chop it finely; add to avocado. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Creamy Basil and Tomato Pasta

2 lbs Tomatoes- chopped (about 3 cups)
1 (8 oz) pkg Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese- cubed
1/4 cup Kraft Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette Dressing
1/2 cup Fresh Basil- chopped
1 (16 oz) pkg Whole Wheat or Barilla Plus Linguine or Fettucini
1/2 cup Pine Nuts- toasted (optional)

Toss tomatoes with cream cheese and dressing; cover. refrigerate at least 2 hours. Cook pasta as directed on package; drain. Place in large bowl. Add tomato mixture and pine nuts; toss lightly.

Creamy Spinach and Tortellini

1 (16 oz) package Fresh or Frozen Uncooked Cheese Tortellini
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Onion- chopped
3 Garlic Cloves- chopped
1 (9 oz) package Frozen Chopped Spinach- thawed
1 Large Tomato- cubed
1/4 cup Fresh Basil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 cup Reduced Fat Whipping Cream
1/4 cup Freshly Grated Parmesean Cheese

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and return to pan to keep warm. In large pan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic; saute 4 minutes or until light brown. Stir in spinach, tomato, basil, salt and pepper; cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in whipping bream and parmesean cheese. Cook until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and mix in tortellini and cook another 4 minutes until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat and transfer to individual serving plates and top with additional parmesean cheese.

Red Beans and Sausage

2 lbs Hickory Smoked Sausage- sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper- chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper- chopped
3 Celery Ribs- chopped
1 cup Onion- chopped
4 Garlic Cloves- minced
3 (15 oz) can Red Beans- drained
1 (15 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 2/3 cups Water
3 tbsp Sweet Pepper Sauce
1 tbsp Worchestershire Sauce
2 tsp Hot Sauce
1 1/2 cups Uncooked Long Grain Rice

Cook sausage in a dutch oven over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, stirring until sausage is brown. Remove sausage, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tbsp drippings in Dutch oven. Saute bell peppers and next three ingredients in hot drippings 5 minutes until tender. Stir in red beans and next five ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduced heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in sausage. Simmer and cover 1 1/2 hours. Prepare rice according to package directions. Serve red beans over hot cooked rice.

Baked Pita Chips

1 (8 oz) package Pita Bread
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Coarsely Ground Kosher Salt

Seperate each pita into 2 rounds. Cut each round into 4 wedges. Arrange in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Coat with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle evenly with kosher salt. Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Whole Grain Marshmallow Crispy Bars

3 tbsp butter (can use Smart Balance)
1 (10.5 oz) bag Miniature Marshmallows
1 (15 oz) box Multi-Grain Cluster Cereal (can use Kashi GoLean Crunch)
1 1/4 cups Dried Cranberries- divided
Vegetable Cooking Spray

Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows, and cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 5 minutes or until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in cereal and 1 cup of cranberries until well coated. Press mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Chop remaining 1/4 cup cranberries, and sprinkle on top. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes or until firm.

Corn, Mango and Edamame Salad

2 cups Frozen Shelled Edamame
1 1/2 cup Fresh Corn Kernels
1 1/2 cup Mango Cubes (1 med)
1 cup Chopped Tomato (1 lg)
1/2 cup Red Onion- chopped
2 tbsp Fresh Cilantro- chopped
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp Lime Juice
3/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper

Prepare edamame per package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Trandfer to large bowl. Stir in corn, mango, tomato, onion, cilantro, oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss well.

Green Beans with Bacon

3 Reduced Fat Bacon Slices
1 cup Sweet Onion- chopped
2 (12oz) packages Frozen Green Beans- thawed
1 cup Low-Sodium Fat-Free Chicken Broth
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat 6-8 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tsp drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon. Saute onion in hot drippings in skillet over med0high heat 2-3 minutes or until golden. Add green beans, broth and mustard, tosdsing to coat. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 5 miutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 more minutes or until liquid thickens and is reduced by half. Add salt and papper to taste. Top with crumbled bacon. Serve immediatley,

Photograph: William Dickey

Spice Rubbed Flank Steak

3 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Ground Oregeno
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
1 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 (2lb) Flank Steak- trimmed
Vegetable Cooking Spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow bowl. Stir in olive oil until combined. Gently rub olive oil mixture evenly on steak. Let stand 20 minutes. Coat cold cooking grate on grill over medium-high heat (350F to 400F). Place steak on cooking grate, and grill, covered with grill lid, 8 minutes on each side of until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; cut steak diagnoally accross the grain into thin slices.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Barbeque Quesadillas

8 (10-inch) Flour or Wheat Tortillas
1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce
8 ounces (2 cups) Monterey Jack Cheese- shredded
1 1/2 cups Diced Cooked Chicken (can use Rotisseire Chicken)

For each quesadilla, spread 1 tortilla with 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Layer with 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 chicken and 1/4 cup cheese. Place layered tortilla in 12-inch skillet. Top with second tortilla. Cook over medium heat, turning once, until cheese is melted (2 to 3 minutes). Repeat with remaining ingredients. To serve, cut into wedges.

Marucci Pumpkin Pie

1 (9 inch) Unbaked Pie Shell
1 (16 oz) Canned Pumpkin
1 (14 oz) Fat Free Condensed Milk
2 Eggs or 4 Egg Whites
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4-1/2 tsp Ground Cloves

In large bowl, combine ingredients, mix well and turn into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean. Cool in refrigerator before serving.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Vitamins and Minerals, Sources and Functions


Best Sources



Retinol Carotene


Eggs, dark green and yellow vegetables and fruits, lowfat dairy products, liver

Growth and repair of body tissue, immune functions, night vision




Wheat germ, pork, whole and enriched grains, dried beans, seafood

Carbohydrate metabolism, appetite maintenance, nerve function, growth and muscle tone




Lowfat milk products, green leafy vegetables, whole and enriched grains, beef, lamb, eggs

Carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, needed for cell respiration, mucous membranes




Fish, poultry, lean meat, whole grain, potatoes

Carbohydrate and protein metabolism, formation of antibodies, red blood cells, nerve function




Lean beef, fish, poultry, eggs, lowfat and nonfat milk

Carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism, maintains nervous system, blood cell formation


(No RDA)

Egg yolk, meat, lowfat and nonfat milk, dark green vegetables; also made by microorganisms in intestinal tract

Carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, formation of fatty acids, utilization of B vitamins

Folic Acid


Green leafy vegetables, dried beans, poultry, fortified cereals, oranges, nuts

Red blood cell formation, protein metabolism, growth and cell division



Poultry, fish, whole and enriched grains, dried beans and peas

Carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism, health and digestive system, blood circulation, nerve function, appetite

Pantothenic Acid

(No RDA)

Most plant and animal foods, especially leans meats, whole grains, legumes

Converts nutrients into energy, vitamin utilization, nerve function


Ascorbic Acid


Citrus fruits, tomatoes, melons, berries, green and red peppers, broccoli

Wound healing, strengthens blood vessels, collagen maintenance, resistance to infection, healthy gums




200-400 IU

Egg yolk, fatty fish, fortified milk, also made in skin exposed to light

Calcium and phosphorus metabolism (bone and teeth formation)




Vegetable oil, wheat germ, nuts, dark green vegetables, whole grains, beans

Protects cell membranes and red blood cells from oxidation, may be active in immune function



Green leafy vegetables, cereal, egg yolk

Formation of blood clotting agents and bone


Best Sources




Lowfat or nonfat milk products, calcium fortified orange juice and bread, salmon with bones

Support of bone, teeth, muscle tissue, regulates heart beat, muscle action, nerve functions, blood clotting


(No RDA)

Cheese, whole grains, meats, peas, beans

Needed glucose for metabolism (energy), increases effectiveness of insulin, muscle function


(No RDA)

Nuts, dried beans, oysters, cocoa powder

Formation of red blood cells, pigment, needed for bone health



Seafood, iodized salt

Function of thyroid gland, which controls metabolism



Meat, fish, poultry, organ meats, beans, whole and enriched grains, green leafy vegetables

Formation of hemoglobin in blood and myoglobin in muscle, which supply oxygen to cells



Nuts, green vegetables, whole grains, beans

Enzyme activation, nerve and muscle function, bone growth



Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, lowfat milk products, beans, whole grains

Bone development, carbohydrate, protein and fat utilization


(No RDA)

Vegetables, fruits, beans, bran cereal, lowfat milk products

Fluid balance, controls activity of heart muscle, nervous system



Seafood, lean meat, grains, eggs, chicken, garlic

Fights cell damage from oxidation



Lean meat, eggs, seafood, whole grains, lowfat milk products

Taste and smell sensitivity, regulation of metabolism, aids in healing

Antidepression Medications: Are There Side Effects?

Antidepressants may cause mild and, usually, temporary side effects (sometimes referred to as adverse effects) in some people. Typically these are annoying, but not serious. However, any unusual reactions or side effects or those that interfere with functioning should be reported to the doctor immediately.

The most common side effects of tricyclic antidepressants, and ways to deal with them, are:
  • Dry mouth- It is helpful to drink sips of water; chew sugarless gum; clean teeth daily.

  • Constipation- Bran cereals, prunes, fruit, and vegetables should be in the diet.

  • Bladder problems- Emptying the bladder may be troublesome, and the urine stream may not be as strong as usual; the doctor should be notified if there is marked difficulty or pain.

  • Sexual problems- Sexual functioning may change; if worrisome, it should be discussed with the doctor. There is a solution.

  • Blurred Vision- This will pass soon and will not usually necessitate new glasses.

  • Dizziness- Rising from the bed or chair slowly is helpful.

  • Drowsiness- As a daytime problem this usually passes soon. A person feeling drowsy or sedated should not drive or operate heavy equipment. The more sedating antidepressants are generally taken at bedtime to help sleep and minimize daytime drowsiness.

The newer antidepressants have different types of side effects:

  • Headache- This will usually go away.

  • Nausea- This is also temporary, but even when it occurs, it is transient after each dose.

  • Nervousness and insomnia (trouble falling asleep or waking often during the night)- These may occur during the first few weeks; dosage reductions or time will usually resolve them.

  • Agitation (feeling jittery)- If this happens for the first time after the drug is taken and is more than transient, the doctor should be notified.

  • Sexual problems- The doctor should be consulted if the problem is persistent or worrisome.

Depression: Do Medications Work?

There are several types of antidepressant medications used to treat depressive disorders. These include newer medications chiefly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) the tricyclics, and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The SSRIs and other newer medications that affect neurotransmitters such as dopamine or norepinephrine generally have fewer side effects than tricyclics. Sometimes the doctor will try a variety of antidepressants before finding the most effective medication or combination of medications. Sometimes the dosage must be increased to be effective. Although some improvements may be seen in the first few weeks, antidepressant medications must be taken regularly for 3 to 4 weeks (in some cases, as many as 8 weeks) before the full therapeutic effect occurs.

Patients often are tempted to stop medication too soon. They may feel better and think they no longer need the medication. Or they may think the medication isn’t helping at all. It is important to keep taking medication until it has a chance to work, though side effects may appear before antidepressant activity does. Once the individual is feeling better, it is important to continue the medication for at least 4 to 9 months to prevent a recurrence of the depression. Some medications must be stopped gradually to give the body time to adjust. Never stop taking an antidepressant without consulting the doctor for instructions on how to safely discontinue the medication. For individuals with bipolar disorder or chronic major depression, medication may have to be maintained indefinitely.

Antidepressant drugs are not habit-forming. However, as is the case with any type of medication prescribed for more than a few days, antidepressants have to be carefully monitored to see if the correct dosage is being given. The doctor will check the dosage and its effectiveness regularly.

Depression: Is There a Treatment?

The first step to getting appropriate treatment for depression is a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications as well as some medical conditions such as a viral infection can cause the same symptoms as depression, and the physician should rule out these possibilities through examination, interview, and lab tests. If a physical cause for the depression is ruled out, a psychological evaluation should be done, by the physician or by referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

A good diagnostic evaluation will include a complete history of symptoms, i.e., when they started, how long they have lasted, how severe they are, whether the patient had them before and, if so, whether the symptoms were treated and what treatment was given. The doctor should ask about alcohol and drug use, and if the patient has thoughts about death or suicide. Further, a history should include questions about whether other family members have had a depressive illness and, if treated, what treatments they may have received and which were effective.

Last, a diagnostic evaluation should include a mental status examination to determine if speech or thought patterns or memory have been affected, as sometimes happens in the case of a depressive or manic-depressive illness.

Treatment choice will depend on the outcome of the evaluation. There are a variety of antidepressant medications and psychotherapies that can be used to treat depressive disorders. Some people with milder forms may do well with psychotherapy alone. People with moderate to severe depression most often benefit from antidepressants. Most do best with combined treatment: medication to gain relatively quick symptom relief and psychotherapy to learn more effective ways to deal with life’s problems, including depression. Depending on the patient’s diagnosis and severity of symptoms, the therapist may prescribe medication and/or one of the several forms of psychotherapy that have proven effective for depression.

Males & Depression: Are The Signs & Symptoms Different?

Although men are less likely to suffer from depression than women, 6 million men in the United States are affected by the illness. Men are less likely to admit to depression, and doctors are less likely to suspect it. The rate of suicide in men is four times that of women, though more women attempt it. In fact, after age 70, the rate of men’s suicide rises, reaching a peak after age 85.

Depression can also affect the physical health in men differently from women. A new study shows that, although depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in both men and women, only men suffer a high death rate.

Men’s depression is often masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially acceptable habit of working excessively long hours. Depression typically shows up in men not as feeling hopeless and helpless, but as being irritable, angry, and discouraged; hence, depression may be difficult to recognize as such in men. Even if a man realizes that he is depressed, he may be less willing than a woman to seek help. Encouragement and support from concerned family members can make a difference. In the workplace, employee assistance professionals or worksite mental health programs can be of assistance in helping men understand and accept depression as a real illness that needs treatment.

Females and Depression: Are They More Vulnerable?

Women experience depression about twice as often as men. Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in women particularly such factors as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, postpartum period, pre-menopause, and menopause. Many women also face additional stresses such as responsibilities both at work and home, single parenthood, and caring for children and for aging parents.

A recent NIMH study showed that in the case of severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), women with a preexisting vulnerability to PMS experienced relief from mood and physical symptoms when their sex hormones were suppressed. Shortly after the hormones were re-introduced, they again developed symptoms of PMS. Women without a history of PMS reported no effects of the hormonal manipulation.

Many women are also particularly vulnerable after the birth of a baby. The hormonal and physical changes, as well as the added responsibility of a new life, can be factors that lead to postpartum depression in some women. While transient “blues” are common in new mothers, a full-blown depressive episode is not a normal occurrence and requires active intervention.

Treatment by a sympathetic physician and the family’s emotional support for the new mother are prime considerations in aiding her to recover her physical and mental well-being and her ability to care for and enjoy the infant.

Depression: Why am I Feeling So Bad?

Causes of Depression

Some types of depression run in families, suggesting that a biological vulnerability can be inherited. This seems to be the case with bipolar disorder. Studies of families in which members of each generation develop bipolar disorder found that those with the illness have a somewhat different genetic makeup than those who do not get ill. However, the reverse is not true: Not everybody with the genetic makeup that causes vulnerability to bipolar disorder will have the illness. Apparently additional factors, possibly stresses at home, work, or school, are involved in its onset.

In some families, major depression also seems to occur generation after generation. However, it can also occur in people who have no family history of depression. Whether inherited or not, major depressive disorder is often associated with changes in brain structures or brain function.

People who have low self-esteem, who consistently view themselves and the world with pessimism or who are readily overwhelmed by stress, are prone to depression. Whether this represents a psychological predisposition or an early form of the illness is not clear.

In recent years, researchers have shown that physical changes in the body can be accompanied by mental changes as well. Medical illnesses such as stroke, a heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and hormonal disorders can cause depressive illness, making the sick person apathetic and unwilling to care for his or her physical needs, thus prolonging the recovery period. Also, a serious loss, difficult relationship, financial problem, or any stressful (unwelcome or even desired) change in life patterns can trigger a depressive episode. Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder. Later episodes of illness typically are precipitated by only mild stresses, or none at all.

Depression: Signs & Symptoms

Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. Severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time.

Signs & Symptoms may include:
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

Are There Different Types of Depression?

Depressive disorders come in different forms, just as is the case with other illnesses such as heart disease. The three of the most common types of depressive disorders are described below. However, within these types there are variations in the number of symptoms, their severity, and persistence.
  1. Major depression is manifested by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime.
  2. A less severe type of depression, dysthymia, involves long-term, chronic symptoms that do not disable, but keep one from functioning well or from feeling good. Many people with dysthymia also experience major depressive episodes at some time in their lives.
  3. Another type of depression is bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness. Not nearly as prevalent as other forms of depressive disorders, bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, overtalkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.