Are You Clinically Depressed or Just Moody?
Depression can range from serious to mild, temporary episodes of sadness and severe, unrelenting depression. Clinical depression is the most severe type of depression and it is also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. Clinical depression is not the same thing as being depressed over the death of a loved one, or a medical issue or thyroid disorder, it’s much deeper and more profound than most realize.
How is Clinical Depression Diagnosed?
To properly diagnose clinical depression, many physicians will refer to the symptom criteria for major depressive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.
The signs and symptoms of clinical depression can include any or all of the following:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, and tearfulness.
- Anxiety, agitation and restlessness
- Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia or sleeping more than usual
- Outbursts of anger, irritability or frustration, even over the smallest things
- Appetite changes, either overeating or appetite loss
- Tiredness, lack of energy, so even doing the smallest things require great effort
- Trouble concentrating, trouble thinking, inability to make decisions and memory issues
- Frequent thoughts of suicide and death
The symptoms of clinical depression are severe enough to cause disruption in a person’s daily life. It can also cause problems in a person’s relationships, work, social life and schooling.
Different Types of Depression
The symptoms caused by clinical depression will vary from person to person. To determine what kind of depression a person may be suffering from, a physician may add one or more of the following specifiers. A specifier means a person has depression with a feature, such as:
- Anxious distress: this type of depression comes with unusual restlessness and worrying about things or events or fearing a loss of control.
- Seasonal patterns: people with this type of depression experience changes in seasons and from reduced exposure to sunlight.
- Peripartum onset: this type of depression happens during pregnancy either in the weeks or months following delivery of a baby.
- Mixed features: this occurs with simultaneous depression and manic episodes, which include; elevation of self-esteem, talking too much and an increase in energy levels.
- Catatonia: depression which includes motor activity with either uncontrollable movements without purpose, or fixed/inflexible posture.
- Melancholic features: this is severe depression with a lack of response to something which used to be pleasurable to someone. This type is associated with early morning awakenings, bad moods in the mornings, major appetite changes, guilty feelings, agitation or feeling sluggish.
- Psychotic features: this form of depression is accompanied by delusions, or hallucinations, which could involve feelings of inadequacy or other negative thoughts, feelings and emotions.
- Atypical features: this depression includes the ability to be temporarily happy from certain events, increased appetite, excessive need for sleep, fear of rejection and heaviness in the arms and legs.
How is Clinical Depression Treated?
Treating clinical depression can be successfully done using medication and psychotherapy. A primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms of depression. However, many people with depression also benefit from regular visits to a psychiatrist, psychologist or another type of mental health professional.
If someone’s depression isn’t alleviated by medication or psychotherapy, it may be necessary for the person to be hospitalized or participate in an outpatient treatment program until their symptoms get better.
How Can You Treat Clinical Depression Naturally?
Severe depression isn’t something that a person can treat on their own. In addition to professional treatment, there are some self-help steps a person can try as well:
- Staying on the treatment plan: It’s important to not skip psychotherapy sessions or doctor’s appointments, even if a person is feeling good it’s imperative to continue taking the medications they’ve been prescribed. If a person stops taking their depression medication, it can cause the symptoms to come back, and depending on the type of medicine, it could cause withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to realize it will take time to feel better.
- Learn everything there is to know about depression: It’s a good idea to educate oneself about depression because it is empowering and can motivate someone to stick to their treatment plan.
- Pay close attention to any warning signs: Working with a doctor or therapist to learn the signs that could trigger one’s depression symptoms can be extremely beneficial. Make a plan, so you know what to do in the event your symptoms become worse.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs: It might seem like alcohol and drugs make clinical depression symptoms easier to deal with, but nothing could be further from the truth. In the long run, any type of substance abuse will make depression worsen and make it more difficult to treat.
If you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, then you know it’s more than just a bad mood. It’s beneficial for you to eat healthy foods, engage in exercise and to get plenty of sleep. Your doctor can suggest ways of how to improve your coping skills, which can make a world of difference in how well you are able to bounce back from your depression.
In a large majority of cases, the prognosis for clinical depression is good. Of course, the real outcome a person will have with depression depends on if they receive treatment or not. Untreated depression can be terminal, because it is the leading cause of suicide.
Depression is a serious illness and it requires treatment, and for those who take the difficult step to seek treatment for it, recovery is a genuine possibility.