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Depression

Depression is a chronic state of low mood often associated with hopelessness, apathy, and fatigue. Unlike sadness, depression is a pathology that causes (or is caused by) dysfunctional brain activity.

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Summary of Depression

Depression is a state of low mood, often associated with hopelessness and apathy. It's not simply sadness, that may be part of it, but sadness can be a normal transient response to upsetting events, while depression is more rooted in dysfunctional brain activity, with symptoms persisting for weeks. At that point, it's referred to as major depressive disorder and considered medically serious.

Personality can factor into the expression of depression. Some people may become withdrawn and hesitant to socialize, having feelings of guilt and worthlessness, while some may be excessively irritable and hostile. The common thread, again, isn't necessarily sadness but may be mild anhedonia—a diminished ability to feel pleasure.

Foods and supplements that affect depression may do so through altering brain energetics, neurogenesis, and synaptic plasticity, and may do this through being neurotransmitters and hormones, affecting their synthesis, reuptake, and signaling, affecting inflammatory signaling, ion channel function, protecting neurons, and more.

By far, the most common way to measure depression is through the use of various questionnaires designed to rate the severity of known symptoms of depression. There are other approaches such as behavioral assessments, and neuroimaging, but those are much less common in research.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies to tell you what supplements affect Depression.

Full details on all Depression supplements are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Notable Very High See all 28 studies
Fish oil supplementation has been noted to be comparable to pharmaceutical drugs (fluoxetine) in majorly depressed persons, but this may be the only cohort that experiences a reduction of depression. There is insufficient evidence to support a reduction of depressive symptoms in persons with minor depression (ie. not diagnosed major depressive disorder)
grade-a Notable Very High See all 9 studies
30mg saffron daily (both petals and stigma) appear to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms in persons with major depressive disorder, and the potency has been noted to be comparable to reference drugs (fluoxetine and imipramine).
grade-b Notable Very High See all 8 studies
Curcumin seems to be more effective than placebo in reducing symptoms of depression. It may take 2-3 months to see any outcomes. Skepticism is warranted though, as the studies comparing curcumin to placebo were not well designed and produced effect sizes not too far apart, even though the differences were statistically significant.

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