Major depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It affects up to 25% of women over their lifetimes, and women have twice the prevalence of depression than men.

Usually, a person is diagnosed with depression if they experience either depressed mood or loss of enjoyment in typically pleasurable things, along with symptoms such as changes in weight, sleep, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, recurring thoughts of death and suicide. Women suffering from major depression may also experience anxiety or, in severe cases, psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

Some common types of depressive disorders include:

Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder is characterized by the onset of depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.

Nutrition and Depression

Nutrition may have the potential to affect a person’s risk of depression, its symptoms and its severity. Some aspects of nutrition that may be associated with depression include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and E, folate, alcohol, caffeine, and overall style of diet such as the “western” diet containing processed foods and high quantities of sugar.