Zero Zip, Zest and Zeal?

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Zip, zest, and zeal are signs of health. If you feel that you are lacking these on a regular basis, you may be depressed. Many people do not believe in depression; however, it is one of the most common health problems in the United States affecting an estimated 17 million Americans each year.

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Depression is a whole-body condition that affects the body, nervous system, moods, thoughts and behavior. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself and the way you react to and think about the people and things around you.

Symptoms of depression include chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, headaches, backaches, digestive disorders, restlessness, irritability, quickness to anger, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies, work or social life, and feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy.

The brain and nervous system are run by chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These regulate our behavior. The neurotransmitters most commonly associated with mood are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin eases tension while dopamine and norepinephrine aid in alertness and quick thinking.

Foods greatly influence our brain. Poor diet is a common cause of depression. Foods that impair formation of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine include wheat (both white flour and whole grain), diet sodas and other products containing aspartame, foods high in saturated fats, all forms of sugar, alcohol, caffeine and highly processed foods.

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August 2, 2010