Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how an individual feels, thinks, and how he or she acts. Depression varies from mild to severe, and in certain instances the individual can experience temporary episodes of sadness.
Clinical depression is also known as major depression, as it is considered to be the more severe from of depression. Individuals who suffer from clinical depression have difficulty performing normal day-to-day activities. However, clinical depression is not the same type of depression that is experienced when a death occurs because it is not considered a temporary disorder. Clinical depression is more than simply feeling unhappy for a short period of time, as it is a serious illness that lasts for weeks, months and sometimes years. If left untreated, clinical depression can potentially drive a person towards extreme measures, such as suicide.
This mental disorder can develop at any age, and it is not unique to gender. Clinical depression is common and often undiagnosed or not recognized by most individuals who have it because they fail to realize that this recurring sadness is not normal. The American Psychiatric Association has published a manual that can help diagnose mental conditions called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Most, if not all, mental health providers use this manual to diagnose clinical depression, in which the person must have five or more of the identified symptoms over a two-week period almost every day. To qualify as clinically depressed the individual must have a loss of interest in activities that he or she once loved or commonly be in a depressed mood. Moreover, the symptoms must be noticeable enough to cause a disruption in his or her personal relationships with others or at personal affairs.
Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression
- Constant feeling of sadness
- Empty or tearful
- Reduced interest in daily activities
- Loss of pleasure for activities he or she once loved
- Significant weight loss or weight gain
- Decrease or increase in appetite
- Inappropriate guilt
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Psychiatrists and mental health counselors are able to properly diagnose and treat clinical depression. Even if the symptoms of clinical depression are severe the right treatment can show significant improvements in the affected individual within several months.