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Although depression is the number one health problem for everyone age five and older, data from the World Health Organization has shown that neuropsychiatric problems are widely ignored and untreated everywhere in the world.

Unless properly diagnosed and treated, they can produce problems that affect all aspects of a person's life.

"Feeling depressed" does not necessarily mean a person has a diagnosis of major depression.

Many causes produce these feelings that people refer to as "being blue," "sad," "down in the dumps," "in the pits," "bumming" or "depressed."

It's important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of diagnostic and therapeutic methods employed by a website, clinic or "health" professional.

Questionnaires are popular tools that are widely available in the clinic as well as on the Internet. They can help people sort out their feelings in the privacy of their home.

All tests, nonetheless, have their limitations.

Even x-rays and chemical laboratory tests can yield false positive results. For example, a test "reveals" that you have breast cancer, but later it turns out that the test was wrong and you don't have it. These so-called "objective" tests can also yield false negative results. For example, a test "reveals" that you don't have breast cancer, but later it turns out that the test was wrong and you do have it.

Structured interviews and questionnaires help make the diagnostic process more robust and methodical. In monitoring treatment results, they are often invaluable tools.

They, however, do not eliminate the importance of diagnostic and therapeutic skills. Relying too heavily on tests can undermine judgment and lead to clinical errors.

A number of components are involved in the diagnostic and therapeutic process. Essential components of the diagnosis and treatment of major depression include:

  1. Differential diagnosis (What other conditions could present with these signs and symptoms?)
  2. Diagnostic and clinical formulation (What is the main problem that needs treatment? Are there secondary issues that need evaluation and help?)
  3. Multimodal treatment plan (What combination of therapies will yield the best outcome?)

According to the CDC, antidepressant medications are now the most prescribed drugs in America. But, about one in three patients fail to respond to antidepressant drugs.

Treatment failures occur for a number of reasons. Research estimates that fifty to over eighty percent of patients do not take them long enough to reduce the chances of depression coming back.

"Depressed feelings" can be caused by poor nutrition. Vitamin B-12 and folate deficiencies have been observed in about one-third of patients studied. These vitamins are essential for mood, memory, focus and energy.

Self-selected diet may undermine normal brain development and function. Researchers found that fifty percent of vegetarians and eighty-five percent of vegans had Vitamin B-12 deficiency.

Protein restriction can even interfere with the action of antidepressant medication. Eggs and human breast milk represent the gold standards for proteins. Nearly all plant proteins lack a complete set of the essential amino acids. The Aztec grain, amaranth, is a noteworthy exception.

People living in countries where they regularly consume fish rich in DHA have lower rates of seasonal affective disorder, depression and bipolar affective disorder.

"Feeling depressed" can also result from Vitamin D deficiency. As people spend less time outside in the sun and more time in front of televisions and computers, Vitamin D deficiency becomes more common. Vitamin D levels can be monitored by a simple blood test.

Economic forces lead to the use of higher risk and more costly strategies before safer and more economical strategies. As a result, there is a fundamental inversion of the health system.

America is not alone in neglecting brain health and medicine. Globally, medicine lacks a systematic approach to these problems.

The FAST System for GOOD HEALTH™ corrects this imbalance by providing a systematic and scientific approach to health and medicine:

(F)ood Selection
(A)ctivity - both mental and physical

Its simple, practical and scientifically sensible design is especially valuable for people who contend with neuropsychiatric problems.

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