Definition Of Clinical Depression
Clinical depression refers to any depression that lasts for six months or longer and requires clinical intervention. There are several types of depression: unipolar disorder, bipolar disorder and dysthymia.
Unipolar disorder refers to major depression. Major depression symptoms include a constant feeling of sadness or anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, a lack of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Unipolar disorder can be treated by various antidepressants such as Prozac, natural alternatives such as St. John’s Wort and psychotherapy.
Bipolar depression is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood. The bipolar individual experiences euphoric highs and severe, depressive lows. Bipolar symptoms include: moments of restlessness, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and recklessness. These dramatic shifts in mood can be damaging to relationships, careers and self-esteem. While some people may present early symptoms in their childhood years, most do not until adulthood. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness requiring careful management and attention.
Clinical Depression: Types
Dysthymia is a chronic depression. People with dysthymia may state that they have been depressed all their lives. Generally, chronic depression will have lasted two years or more in adults and at least one year in children. It is characterized by a depressed mood all day, nearly every day. It is difficult to differentiate dysthymia from major depression. Many of the symptoms are the same. However, dysthymia is generally considered less severe than major depression. That does not mean, though, that it should be taken lightly.
The National Mental Health Association states that even though more than 80% of those who seek treatment for clinical depression show significant improvement, less than half of those suffering from it seek help. Unfortunately, many people believe that seeking help is a sign of weakness, that they can just snap out of it, or that they can treat it themselves.
Treatment options include medication, both prescription and natural, alternative therapies, and psychotherapy. The type and duration of treatment(s) used depends on the individual. Early recognition and treatment of depression is more effective and helps prevent recurrences.
Clinical depression may be caused by any number and combination of factors. Often, there is no apparent reason behind the depressive episodes. Common causes of depression include:
Biological: Too much or too little of a certain chemical in the brain may lead to depression.
Cognitive: Refers to depression caused by negative thinking patterns and/or a low self-esteem.
Co-occurrence: Depression occurs along side another disease, such as cancer or hormonal disorders.
Genetic: A history of depression in the family may be responsible for current episodes.
Situational: Sometimes a specific life event may trigger chronic or major depression.
History of the Study of Clinical Depression
Clinical Depression was originally considered as being caused due to a chemical imbalance in the brain involving neurotransmitters. In the 1950s, this theory was based on studies of reserpine and isoniazid affecting monoamine-neurotransmitter levels thus causing depressive symptoms. Since then, numerous other causative factors for Clinical Depression have been suggested.
The Ebers Papyrus contains a brief history of the study of Clinical Depression. Although it describes causative factors historically attributed to demons and other superstitions, the document does reveal a long practice of empirical study and observation of Clinical Depression.
Clinical Depression affects at least 16 percent of all people at least once in their lives. Studies show that clinical depression is more common in women than men.
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