HomeMental HealthClinical Depression: Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

Clinical Depression: Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

Everybody, at some stage in their lives, feels low or sad, but this feeling usually fades over time. Depression, on the other hand, is a serious mood disorder that can lead to symptoms that impact the way you think, feel, and carry out daily activities, including eating, sleeping, and working. It is a disorder that can strike anyone, irrespective of their age, income, race, culture, or educational background.

According to the WHO data, depression is a major contributor to disability around the world, affecting approximately 3.8% of the population, which includes 5.0% of adults and 5.7% of adults over the age of 60. Around 280 million individuals worldwide suffer from depression.

It can hinder a person’s relationships, hamper their ability to work and stay in good health, and, in extreme situations, can result in suicide. The WHO mentions that each year, more than 700,000 people commit suicide. Suicide is the fourth most common cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 29.

Depression can affect children, adolescents, and adults. This article provides insight into what you mean by depression, the different types of depression, and more.

What do you mean by depression?

Depression, also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), is a mood disorder that can result in persistent emptiness, sadness, and loss of happiness. It is totally different from the mood swings that most people experience daily.

Significant traumatic occurrences, such as financial issues or bereavement, can set off depression; however, depression is clearly different from the negative emotions that a person may experience momentarily in response to a stressful life event.

Depression commonly persists despite a change in situations, causing feelings that are chronic, intense, and out of proportion to the person’s situation.
It is not a passing issue but an ongoing problem, and the symptoms of depression last for a minimum of two weeks.

Depression may persist for weeks, months, or even years. For many individuals, it can be a chronic condition that improves and then relapses.

Is depression curable?

Although there is no such thing as a depression cure per se, there are treatment options that can aid in recovery. The sooner treatment begins, the better the likelihood of a successful outcome. Some individuals may not ever develop depression again after having experienced it once, while others may experience relapses in the future.
Many people who are depressed recover after undergoing treatment. Even with successful treatment, a relapse is possible. Approximately half of the people do not respond to treatment at first.

People who take antidepressant medication should continue taking it for as long as their doctor says, even if their symptoms resolve or go away.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Depression is not limited to just being sad or feeling “blue.”
A wide range of symptoms can accompany major depression. Some have an impact on your mood, while others have an impact on your body.

These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Constant depressed mood
  • Changes in appetite and body weight
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in activities and hobbies
  • Unusually agitated or slow movements
  • Low on energy or fatigued
  • Oversleeping or sleeping issues
  • A feeling of worthlessness or guilt
  • Not able to concentrate or make decisions
  • Suicidal ideation or attempt

If a person has five or more of the above-mentioned symptoms for at least two weeks, a medical professional might diagnose them as depressed.
Other symptoms of depression may include restlessness, irritability, headaches, chronic pain, and digestive issues.
Furthermore, certain medical conditions, for example, thyroid issues, vitamin deficiency, or a brain tumour, can mimic depression symptoms, so it is critical to eliminate other potential causes first.

 What are the different depression types?

There are many different types of depression. A few of the more common types are mentioned below.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)

A person suffering from MDD is constantly in a state of sadness. They may even lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed.
Treatment typically involves psychotherapy and medications.

Persistent depressive disorder

Persistent depression, or dysthymia, results in symptoms that last a minimum of two years.
A person suffering from this disorder may experience major depressive episodes in addition to relatively mild symptoms that do not fulfil the requirements to be classified as having major depressive disorder (MDD).

Depression after childbirth (postpartum depression)

Some people have a brief spell of heightened emotions or sadness after having given birth, which is also sometimes referred to as the “baby blues.” This is usually self-limiting in a matter of days or weeks.

Postpartum depression, also known as postnatal depression, is much more severe.
This kind of depressive disorder has no specific cause and can last for months or years. Anyone who suffers from postpartum depression should visit a physician.

Major depression with a seasonal pattern

This type of depression, formerly called a seasonal affective disorder (SAD), typically occurs during the fall and winter months, when there are fewer hours of daylight.
It subsides for the remainder of the year and responds well to light therapy.
This condition appears to be more prevalent in individuals who reside in nations with long or harsh winters.

What causes depression?

The causes of depression are not fully understood by the medical community yet. Depression can be caused by several factors, from biological to circumstantial, and symptoms are sometimes triggered by a combination of factors.

The following are some of the most common causes:

  • Brain chemistry: In people who suffer from depression, there might be a chemical imbalance in the regions of their brains that control thoughts, mood, sleep, behaviour, and appetite.
  • Hormonal balance: Changes in female hormones progesterone and oestrogen during different time periods, such as the menstrual cycle, the postnatal period, perimenopause, or menopause, can all raise an individual’s likelihood of depression.
  • Family history: If there is a family history of depressive disorders or another mood disorder, you have a greater chance of getting it.
  • Trauma in early childhood: Some events have an impact on how your body responds to stress and fear.
  • Health conditions: Certain conditions, including chronic disease, insomnia, chronic pain, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, heart attack, and cancer, may increase your risk.
  • Pain: People who experience extended periods of physical or emotional pain are far more likely to experience depression.

In addition, the combination of multiple factors can raise the likelihood of depression. For instance, an individual with a family history of depression or a genetic susceptibility to it may experience depression symptoms after a traumatic incident.

How is depression diagnosed?

To be confirmed to have depression, a person must exhibit five symptoms of depression nearly every day for at least two weeks. Out of the other symptoms, one of the signs must involve having a depressed mood or a lack of enthusiasm for or enjoyment from almost all activities. Adolescents and children may feel irritable instead of sad.

Consult your doctor if you suspect that you are depressed. Doctors routinely diagnose and manage depression and refer patients to specialists in mental health, including psychiatrists and psychologists.

During the doctor’s visit, they may inquire about the onset of your symptoms, the duration of their occurrence, the frequency with which they occur, and whether they prevent you from going out or performing your usual activities. Make a few notes regarding your symptoms prior to your appointment. Certain medications and health conditions, such as thyroid disorders, can induce similar symptoms of depression. A physical examination, interview, and laboratory tests can be used to rule out these possibilities.

Does depression affect everyone in the same way?

Depression has different effects on different people based on how old they are.
Children who are depressed may be cranky, anxious, pretend to be sick, become clingy to their parents, reject going to school, or be concerned that a parent will die.

Depression can cause older children and teens to feel restless, sulk, become quickly frustrated, or even have low self-esteem. They may also have eating disorders, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or substance use disorders. Older children and teenagers are more likely to have excessive sleepiness and an increased appetite. Females start feeling depression more frequently than males in their adolescent years, most likely due to biological and hormonal changes unique to females.

Younger adults suffering from depressive disorders tend to be easily irritated, complain of gaining weight and insomnia (sleeplessness), and have a pessimistic outlook on their futures and their lives. They frequently suffer from other disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and substance abuse.

Middle-aged adults suffering from depression may experience more depressive episodes, a decrease in sex drive, middle-of-the-night sleeplessness, or an early morning awakening. They may also have digestive system symptoms more frequently, such as constipation or diarrhoea.

Older adults suffering from depression frequently experience sadness or grief, as well as other less obvious symptoms. They may experience a lack of emotions instead of a depressed mood. Older adults are additionally more likely to be suffering from other medical problems or pain that can contribute to or lead to depression. Thinking and memory problems (known as pseudodementia) may also be prominent in severe cases.

What is the treatment for depression?

Depression can be treated, although this treatment may vary depending on the specific type of depression an individual is suffering from.

Even so, approximately 30.9% of individuals do not respond or respond poorly to treatment. Roughly 40% of people achieve remission of the symptoms in one year or less, but depression can reoccur.

Symptom management normally involves three components:

  • Support: This can include anything from having a conversation about workable solutions and probable causes to attempting to educate members of the family.
  • Psychotherapy (also referred to as talking therapy): This includes one-on-one counselling and cognitive-behavioural therapy.
  • Antidepressant medications: A doctor typically prescribes these.
    Electroconvulsive therapy is an effective treatment option for serious depressive disorders that have not responded to other treatments. A mild electric current is passed through the brain, causing a brief seizure. This procedure is safe. It is painless and requires general anaesthesia.

How long does it take for depression treatment to start working?

After just a week or two of beginning antidepressants, you may start noticing some improvement in your symptoms; however, you might not experience the full benefits of the medication until you’ve been taking it for a period of two to three months.

If the antidepressant medication is still not working after this period, consult your doctor. They may change the daily dosage or recommend a different antidepressant.

Psychotherapy might take a few weeks or even longer, depending on the severity of the depression. In many cases, between ten and fifteen sessions are sufficient to significantly improve the symptoms.

Coping with depression

Depression can be incapacitating, making it hard to function normally at school, work, or home. Medication and therapy can be beneficial parts of treatment for depression, but each person must find their own methods for dealing with the condition.

If you are suffering from depression, there are several alternatives that can help manage your symptoms. Based on your physical health, lifestyle, and preferences, you can collaborate with your doctor to develop methods that work best for you.

Physical activity

Moving your body has been shown in studies to help with both mental and physical symptoms of depression.
When you work out, your body produces endorphins that can improve your mood. Regular exercise helps to keep your bones and muscles strong, improves heart health, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Hobbies and creativity

A lack of enthusiasm for hobbies that you used to enjoy is a common symptom of depression. Although it is not easy, trying to find methods for keeping the mind involved or engaged is an essential component of coping with depression.

If you love being creative, these activities may be beneficial in dealing with your symptoms of depression. It may also provide you with an opportunity to express yourself in a new way. You might even be able to incorporate your creativity as a part of your therapy.
Self-care and keeping in contact

Self-care is particularly important when you are depressed. Make getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising a priority. It’s also essential that you keep in contact with others. Depression can be very isolating.

Clinical Depression FAQs

What does it mean to be clinically depressed?

Clinical depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), is a serious mood disorder characterised by persistent emotions such as sadness, loss of hope, and unworthiness that hinder your daily activities.
Symptoms of clinical depression may include a continuous depressed mood, a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, changes in appetite and sleep issues, fatigue, trouble focusing, a sense of worthlessness, and suicidal ideation. Individuals experiencing these symptoms should seek help from a qualified mental health professional.
To be diagnosed with clinical depression, a person must experience these signs for a minimum of 2 weeks. Treatment for clinical depression may include medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

How do people get clinical depression?

Clinical depression has no single cause. Several different factors, such as biological, genetic, environmental, and psychological ones, can all have an impact on it. Family history, trauma, long-term stress, chemical imbalances in the brain, as well as certain medical conditions or medicines, can all contribute to the development of clinical depression.

Who suffers from clinical depression?

Anyone can have depression. People who have experienced abusive behaviour, severe losses, or even any kind of stressful event are much more prone to developing depression. 
According to the WHO data, depression impacts approximately 3.8% of the population, which includes 5% of adults (6% of women and 4% of men) and 5.7% of adults over the age of 60. Women are about 50% more likely than men to suffer from depression, and 10% of pregnant women, and women who have recently given birth suffer from depression worldwide.

How do you test for clinical depression?

Clinical depression is diagnosed by medical providers after an in-depth understanding of the symptoms you experience, your medical history, and your mental health history. Depending on the context of your symptoms, your doctor may be able to diagnose the specific subtype of clinical depression you might suffer from, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or major depressive disorder (MDD).
To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you should have at least five or more of the symptoms listed in this article's symptoms section for at least two weeks in a row.

About The Author

Dr.William Lewis Aliquam sit amet dignissim ligula, eget sodales orci. Etiam vehicula est ligula, laoreet porttitor diam congue eget. Cras vestibulum id nisl eu luctus. In malesuada tortor magna, vel tincidunt augue fringilla eget. Fusce ac lectus nec tellus malesuada pretium.

MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) Gold Medalist (2009-2015) M.D In General Medicine (2016-2019), CCID (Infectious Diseases)

PG Diploma In Clinical Endocrinology v& Diabetes, Clinical Associate in Non-Invasive Cardiology

Dr.William Lewis Aliquam sit amet dignissim ligula, eget sodales orci. Etiam vehicula est ligula, laoreet porttitor diam congue eget. Cras vestibulum id nisl eu luctus. In malesuada tortor magna, vel tincidunt augue fringilla eget. Fusce ac lectus nec tellus malesuada pretium.

MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) Gold Medalist (2009-2015) M.D In General Medicine (2016-2019), CCID (Infectious Diseases)

PG Diploma In Clinical Endocrinology v& Diabetes, Clinical Associate in Non-Invasive Cardiology

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