What does the term “clinical depression” mean?
Answers from Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
To diagnose clinical depression, many doctors use the symptom criteria for major depressive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Signs and symptoms of clinical depression may include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Symptoms are usually severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in day-to-day activities, such as work, school or social activities.
Clinical depression can affect people of any age, including children. However, clinical depression symptoms, even if severe, usually improve with psychological counseling, antidepressant medications or a combination of the two.
And What is it like to Live with Clinincal Depression and MDD
BY: Kat Challis
(MDD) major depressive disorder has had a life altering effect on my social relationships. Uninformed people tell me to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘fake-it ’till you make it’ in happiness. Often people will put conditions on their friendships when you are experiencing a MDD episode. They will threaten or choose to end the friendship if you don’t stop being so depressed. Medication and talk theraphy, journaling all provide self-care activities for the patient of MDD. Family members are often perplexed, they may be experiencing the same stressors as the MDD patient but they don’t react like an MDD patient, and that causes additional stress upon them. MDD patients are often seen as lacking courage or being weak minded- but that is a falliacy. There are clinical biological reasons that cause this disorder— having a strong will is meaningless when you are in the throes of a MDD episode. You can still have episodes of MDD while on medication for the treatment, based upon your other health issues there may be a limit to the amount of antidepressants that the doctors can prescribe at any given time.
There is hope at the end of the tunnel, doctors have researched areas of the brain that are effected by MDD on MRI studies and are trying different combinations of medications on animal and human test subjects. People with MDD can have a “tool-box” of coping strategies; talking about your feelings with signicandt others or therapist, journing or writing poetry, stories, or novels can help channel some of the mood into a creative outlet, so can other arts like painting, pottery, crochet,or sewing. One with MDD doesn’t have to stay stuck in a cycle, they can de-rail it with proper medication and treatment. I however, do not endorse shock treatment. I have found from experience that it is not beneficial and loss of memory can be permante. Speak with your doctors if in doubt. Don’t give up! You the patient are still accountable and responsible for the choices you make- some choices last a life time.