Clinical depression, manic depression and bipolar disorder are names given to various types of mental illness. Over the past few decades, the number of diagnosed cases of depression in its many forms, has skyrocketed. Depression is not solely a problem of the United States. Clinical depression is a global problem. In fact, across the world, depression ranks as the second-most diagnosed disability in the world, according to the Washington Post.
Define Clinical Depression
What is clinical depression? This type of depression is also known as major depressive disorder. The definition of clinical depression is a mental condition in which the patient exhibits at least 5 of the known symptoms of the disorder for 14 consecutive days or two weeks time. Clinical depression is one of the most severe forms of the disorder and is not associated with grieving, loss or a medical condition. Hormonal imbalances, such as thyroid conditions, are common causes of depression, but in this case, there is no connection.
Clinical depression can occur at almost any age. It is estimated that one in every 10 Americans are clinically depressed and are not being seen by a doctor or properly medicated for their condition. With the current rate of diagnoses, the number of reported cases is expected to increase by 20 percent each year for the next few years.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression
Clinical depression is often identified by the symptoms that are associated with it. Various types of depression are diagnosed when a patient exhibits one or more of the symptoms. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, five of the following symptoms must be present and they must persist for a specific amount of time. The signs of clinical depression include:
- Obvious restlessness or slowed behaviors
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Frequent thoughts of suicides, that often include suicide attempts
- Very little energy, extremely fatigued
- Insomnia, wanting to sleep or nap constantly
- Feelings of extreme guilt or worthlessness
- Lack of interest in known hobbies and activities
- Constant feelings of sadness or irritability
- Decrease in appetite and significant weight loss, without dieting or changing regular eating habits
Clinical depression symptoms are persistent. While they may vary in degree of severity, the symptoms are constant and unrelenting. In most cases of major depressive disorder at least five of the symptoms are easily noticeable by friends or family members. Others may be harder to discern by those who see the patient on a day to day basis, but a trained psychiatric professional can effectively evaluate the patient and determine to what extent the disorder has progressed.
When a person is being evaluated for any type of mental illness, the clinical depression definition is used as a guideline to rule out this particular disorder. The basic clinical depression test involves a lengthy interview that looks deeply into the life, emotional stability and family involvement of the patient. The patients’ overall physical health is also considered during the evaluation.
Causes of Clinical Depression
Clinical depression can be caused by several things. Chemical imbalances within the brain can begin the downward spiral often associated with various types of depression. Once the cycle has started, however, many other factors can contribute to it causing it to progressively become worse. Excessive amounts of stress, pressure from continued responsibilities and poor general health can each play a role in causing clinical depression to increase in severity.
In some cases, the area of the world in which you live can increase your risk of being diagnosed with clinical depression or bipolar disorder. For example, a study in Barcelona Spain suggests that the risk of being diagnosed with clinical depression in Asia was 1.7 to 2.5 percent, while residents of the Ukraine had a percentage rate of 9.1 percent, according to Forbes.com. Clinical depression is found across the globe in varying degrees. Native American populations in the United States and Canada have suicide rates that are 100 percent higher than anywhere else in the United States. No one country is immune and people from all walks of life can be equally affected.
Studies show that those who are most commonly affected by bipolar and major clinical depressive disorder are women. Men may present their symptoms differently causing them to be overlooked or misinterpreted as anger or aloofness. Men are also less likely to seek a doctors’ advice and subsequently refuse treatment. One of the most common types of depression in women is postpartum depression that occurs in the weeks after a woman gives birth. This type of depression is common in women who have had several children and will often increase in severity each time the symptoms arise.
Clinical Depression Treatment
Depending on the person and the severity of the symptoms, treatment can take many forms. A complete psychiatric evaluation is one of the first steps taken to determine whether or not the person is clinically depressed. A physical examination is also performed to determine if a physical condition is contributing to the mental illness. The combination of both physical and mental factors will help the doctor make a more accurate and reliable diagnosis. When a proper diagnosis is given, treatment plans are more effective and the end result is more successful.
Depression is treated in various ways depending on the patient and the severity of their symptoms. In some cases, counseling may help a person deal with the many factors that contribute to their type of depressive disorder. In severe cases, anti-depressants are prescribed to help raise or lower the levels of certain chemicals within the brain that affect mood and overall brain function. In patients who are contemplating suicide or are in danger of physically hurting themselves, being admitted to a psychiatric facility for observation may be in their best interest.
Many people who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder often refuse treatment. In some cases, the fear of being discriminated against or shunned by friends, family and co-workers can be overwhelming. When a person begins to contemplate suicide, the problem has progressed to the point that inpatient care may be needed to help resolve the issue. Friends and family members who choose to take this step, often endure the wrath of the patient until treatment has started. As the patient begins to return to their old self, the pain and anger associated with the intervention slowly dissipates as they realize just how badly their mental state had deteriorated.
“Am I Clinically Depressed?”
Individuals who are depressed, sometimes do not realize the extent of their condition. While they may be aware of their melancholy feelings, they may not understand how it is preventing them from living their life to the fullest. It isn’t until a friend or family member brings the issues to light that the person begins to realize the effect their mood has been having on their life. Asking the question and discovering the answers can be an eye opening and humbling experience.
Even with all of the revelations and realizations, it may be difficult for someone who is clinically depressed to reach out and ask for help. Almost 15 million Americans suffer from depressive disorders. In the Middle East and North African nations, the numbers are estimated to be almost triple that amount. The numbers are also extremely high in Russia. While these numbers refer primarily to the number of diagnoses each year, the number of treated cases also remains incredibly high.
France, the Netherlands and Columbia follow shortly after the Middle Eastern Nations and northern Africa. The economic and social factors can have a dramatic impact on a person’s already fragile mental state. The constant stress of trying to live and survive in areas of the world where political upheaval and socioeconomic bantering are constant occurrences, individuals can have an extremely hard time concentrating on the basic goals of life.
Clinical depression can go on for years without being diagnosed. It can come and go and range in severity. The level of a person’s depression can change in a relatively short amount of time making it twice as hard to diagnose as other forms of mental illness. Each patient is different when it comes to what affects their condition. Effectively diagnosing any type of depression relies on not only the patient, but the friends, family and co-workers who interact with them on a daily basis. They are the ones who witness the behavior and can see what those behaviors are doing not only to the patient, but to those they love.