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Clinical Depression: Symptoms and Latest Treatments Available

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What is Clinical Depression?

When you hear people use the term clinical depression, they are referring to what is formally known as major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression is a mood disorder that can hamper your daily life. At its worst, it can lead to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death in teens and young adults from 15-29 years of age.

It is important to note that depression is nothing close to normal mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional reactions and responses to situations. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “Depression can occur at any time, but on average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. There is a high degree of heritability (approximately 40%) when first-degree relatives (parents/children/siblings) have depression.”

Depression may not always be the result of a traumatic event. Like many mental health conditions, depression usually has little to do with what is going on around you.

Recurrent depressive disorder:

The most noted difference in the symptoms of recurrent depression and other types of depression is that the individual experiences periods of normal moods after a depressive episode.

Bipolar affective disorder:

Bipolar affective disorder, which is sometimes called “manic depression,” results in mood episodes that range from extremes of highs and lows. The person diagnosed with bipolar disorder may show a burst of energy with an “up” mood to low “depressive” periods.

When the person diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder is in the low phase, he or she will display the symptoms of major depression.

Medication can help bring one’s drastic mood swings under control. You may be prescribed a mood stabilizer, such as lithium, by your doctor.

Both types of depression, recurrent depressive disorder, and bipolar affective disorder, can be chronic, which means they can last for an extended period, with relapses, especially if they go untreated.

What are the Symptoms of Clinical Depression?

Clinical Depression can knock on the door disguised as something else – as a lack of interest in your spouse or partner, your professional life, or yourself. Not all symptoms of depression occur at once, which is why it is necessary to keep an open eye. If your friend seems a little off for no reason at all, you should probably check on them. Depression does not need a specific trigger. Even if all has been well, check on him or her.

Have you been too moody around people? Are you battling some issues only in your mind? Have you been masking your sadness with happiness when you are around others? That is not healthy. You need a helping hand.

Is your loved one having trouble sleeping? Is it hard for him to calm his thoughts and go to sleep? Or is he sleeping too much, whenever possible? Sleep disturbance is a common sign of depression.

Whether you or someone you know is eating too much or not eating at all, pay attention. It could be a cause of concern. Watch out for erratic changes in eating patterns. Depression can affect your eating habits.

If you are easily irritated by anything and almost everything, take heed. Being unusually irritable can be a sign of depression. If your friend has been showing small but frequent outbursts of irritation, she could be suffering from depression.

Has your colleague been expressing too many negative thoughts lately? That is also a sign. Depression can distort the way one thinks. If somebody you know is not her usual self or if you see your once-confident friend turning into someone with low self-esteem, have a talk with her. Help her regain her momentum in life by pointing out that something could be going on with her mental health.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include (as listed by APA):

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms last at least two weeks and represent a change in a person’s previous level of functioning before he or she is diagnosed with depression. However, depression affects everyone differently, and a person may only have some of these symptoms.

As described by the APA, “medical conditions (for example, thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression, so it is important to rule out general medical causes.”

What Are the Latest Medical Treatments for Depression?

The World Health Organisation notes that “although there are known, effective treatments for mental disorders, between 76% and 85% of people in low- and middle-income countries receive no treatment for their disorder.” It further points out that “barriers to effective care include a lack of resources, lack of trained health-care providers and social stigma associated with mental disorders.” Another barrier to effective care is inaccurate assessment. “In countries of all income levels, people who are depressed are often not correctly diagnosed, and others who do not have the disorder are too often misdiagnosed and prescribed antidepressants.”

It has been established that talk treatment can help. In this healing method, you will meet with a clinical social worker, psychologist, or another type of mental health expert to identify and address issues that may cause or heighten your depression. Medications called antidepressants can also be helpful.

The most common psychological interventions for depression are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, and supportive therapy. These help in significantly reducing depression symptoms post-treatment. When provided by experts and with the help and support of loved ones, these interventions can change one’s life for the better.

At the point when therapy and medicine are not working, different alternatives that may be proposed are:

  1. Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) 
  2. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  3. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) 

ECT utilizes electrical currents, TMS uses magnetic fields magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells, and VNS involves stimulation of the vagus nerve with electrical impulses. These are all  brain stimulation therapies. They are neurological procedures that involve the stimulation of nerve cells in the brain to treat the symptoms of depression.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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About the Author: Meghna Mathur is an author, researcher, and mental health expert at POPxo, for all mental health needs.

Photo by Amy Tran on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios only.

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