Clinical Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is the most important of all types of depression, in
terms of prevalence and severity, despite the symptoms and severity of the disease vary considerably between
individuals. Normally, each human being occasionally feels a little depressed
In fact, about 19
million American adults suffer from a form of major depression. The main
difference between occasional depression and clinical depression is the cause and duration in which the
person is depressed. A normal period of the disorder can occur during a normal reaction in response to an
external problem or a tragedy: the death of a friend or family member, divorce, loss of a child, being fired
from his job, a severe physical trauma, and pain.
a normal and healthy feeling to experience against certain events or external trauma. The disorder becomes
clinical depression or major depressive disorder in two different circumstances.
occurs when the depression is caused by external conditions and continues for an unusually long period of time.
Medical doctors and scientists believe this is the result of low levels of seratonin, a hormone in the brain
linked to feelings of well-being and happiness. When this hormonal decrease occurs, certain factors (genetic,
unhealthy diet and lifestyle for instance) cause the person's body to unable to rebuild that normal level of the
seratonin. Without a proper treatment, the condition passes from simple to clinical depression.
way of developing clinical depression is recognizable because it is not in response to external trauma such as
divorce. Instead, the person gradually slips into a severe depression for some unknown reason. Usually people
who become clinically depressed in this way have personal or family history of depressive disorder or bipolar
disorder. People with personal or family history of alcoholism are also at risk for developing clinical depression.
Whatever the cause, once a person has a continue sorrow or incapacity to enjoy life, it is believed that the
main factor is a low level of seratonin in the brain. Therefore,
depression following a long period of pain or stress or that due to genetic predispositions is both treated with
the same antidepressants.
Depression cannot be attributed to a single cause. Generally, the disease results from a combination of factors
such as an imbalance of brain chemicals, family history, thoughts or beliefs that increase the risk of
depression and traumatic or stressful nature of events.
of abnormal levels of chemical substances responsible for sending messages to the brain is also suspected to be
one of the contributing factors leading to depression. These chemicals also help to regulate our emotions, our
behavior and thoughts. The manner we perceive the world, and what happens to us, may also contribute to
Clinical Depression also has genetic connection - family history of the disease. However, while the tendency to
depression may be genetically inherited, the onset of the disorder is most of the times caused by many other
Some Common Triggers of
addiction or drinking, which has a depressing effect of short-term and possibly long
Painful or traumatic events (such as
loss of a loved one, divorce, foreclosure, bad medical report, etc.);
Medical conditions such as
Parkinson's disease, stroke, lupus, hypothyroidism, chronic pain and some forms of cancer;
The use of certain medications,
including corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, narcotics, benzodiazepines, progesterone (which is often
contained in some female hormonal pills) cancer
chemotherapy, and illicit drugs such as amphetamines.
Clinical Depression Symptoms and
Everyone in life sometimes have the feeling of being down or sad. As they say, this is a part of human being life.
The diagnosis of clinical depression is made when a person experiences at least five symptoms typical to the
disease. One of them must be depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities most of the time,
for at least 2 weeks. Here are the common symptoms of clinical depression:
- loss of
interest in pleasure or in daily activities
in appetite or weight
- lack of
motivation or energy
(trouble sleeping) or chronic excessive sleeping
changes in activity level (anxious agitation or slower reflexes);
of worthlessness or guilt
concentrating (memory problems) or making decisions
thoughts of death or suicide (immediate help is required to avoid fetal consequences)
depressive symptoms that may occur include:
- Loss of
interest in work and other activities
that is to avoid family members and friends
to cry easily
(the perception of phenomena that do not exist in reality)
beliefs (misconceptions contrary to reason).
Clinical depression can be
of varying severity. In its extreme forms – when there are suicidal thoughts – the disease can pose a danger to
life and therefore requires immediate medical attention.
Clinical Depression Diagnosis
the diagnosis of clinical depression, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and their severity.
Your doctor will probably prescribe a physical exam and blood tests to rule out other medical conditions which
can be responsible for the occurrence of similar symptoms.
medical professionals that are trained to help depressed individuals; they take depression very seriously and
they are competent in the field. You and your doctor can start by identifying the problem, and then take
necessary steps by developing a treatment plan. The first part may include visits to a psychiatrist or
Clinical Treatment and Prevention
essential to recognize that depression is not a state that we can easily get rid of by ourselves, and it's not
because of personal weakness or lack of will to deal with the situation. Therefore, from the very first moment
you suspect you have the condition you need to seek professional help. Family, friends, church activities and
worship can greatly help. You may also need to consider your lifestyle (bad eating habits, alcohol addiction, etc.) to see if it’s not the root of the
problem. In fact, taking a large dose of omega3 fish oil can help eliminate most depression symptoms.
Most types of depression tend to respond to treatment with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of the
two methods of treatment. Providing information about depression and its mode of treatment to the patient and his
family members is another approach of the treatment plan that the health care provider may
: Sometimes depressed individuals do not realize that drugs might help, or they experience at first some reluctance
toward the use of antidepressants, given the side effects of those drugs. However, there are now a variety of
natural remedies and medications marketed for the treatment of depression which seem to work. You and your doctor
can combine your efforts to decide which medication will work best for you.
Most drugs used in the treatment of depression begin to work after 2 to 4 weeks, although an improvement of some
symptoms may occur within the first weeks. In certain circumstances, the medication initially recommended is to be
changed to a more appropriate type of drug. All antidepressants can have side effects. You need to report to your
health care provider any adverse effects you experience during the treatment as some anti depression drugs can
cause severe side effects. Your doctor and pharmacist should give you an explanation of the most common side
effects and help you deal with them if they were manifested. Taking most antidepressants should continue for at
least 6 to 24 months after the resolution of the depressive episode.
Medicinal Plants (Herbal Remedies or Food Supplements)
: studies have shown that certain herbal remedies can effectively help people with clinical
depression. However, certain plants such as St. John worth can
interact with certain drugs. Therefore, although these plants can reduce depression symptoms in some people,
it is important to talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any herbal remedy or OTC along with antidepressants. Note that it
may be an interaction between St. John worth and prescription or nonprescription medicines; therefore, it is
better to buy natural remedies or food supplements containing no St. John
worth. If you want to treat your depression naturally, it is important to include omega3 fish oil or flax seed
in your diet.
: Psychotherapy can play an important role in the management of depression symptoms. Psychiatrists, psychologists,
and some family physicians are trained to help people with depression to recognize and overcome the kinds of
thoughts that cause depression, and help them get rid of those thoughts. Support groups, friends, and family
members can also help.
Other Depression Treatment Options
Electroconvulsive therapy(ECT): In more severe cases, an Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be
used, but it is generally intended for people who do not respond to antidepressants. This therapy
consists of using electric currents, passed through the brain, to deliberately trigger a brief seizure in order
to o cause changes in brain chemistry that can immediately reverse symptoms of certain mental
Light Therapy (Phototherapy): this method involves exposing the patient to intense
levels of light under controlled conditions in order to treat the depression. Although mostly used to treat
winter depression, this therapy can help some people overcome the symptoms associated with any mood disorder.
Physical Activities: regular
physical activities or sports can improve the state of a depressed person by relieving anxiety, increasing
appetite, promoting sleep and improving mood and self-esteem. Exercise also increases the production of
endorphins, hormones that influence mood favorably.
Prayer Therapy: although most depressed people tend to neglect this
form of the therapy, it is shown in many studies that individuals who get involved in church activities or
constantly pray or worship God are barely depressed. Even when affected by depression, their condition tends to
be less severe.
Social Therapy (Group Therapy):
an active lifestyle, supportive
relationships with family and friends, and a positive outlook can greatly help cope with