Many of us experience temporary episodes of depression throughout our lives. These can be triggered by prolonged periods of social isolation, the loss of a family member, serious conflicts with a partner, and a wide range of other stressful events. Fortunately, these bouts of melancholy usually pass within a matter of weeks. However, some individuals have clinical depression, an intense form of mental illness that can last several years if left untreated. People affected by clinical depression (also known as major depression) often struggle to work, eat, sleep, and enjoy themselves with friends and family, which is why it’s so important to seek out professional aid if you are grappling with this severe condition.
It’s difficult to determine whether you are clinically depressed until you receive an official diagnosis from a qualified psychiatrist. However, there are a few telltale signs to watch out for. Here at Family Psychiatry and Therapy, we place immeasurable value on helping victims of mental disorders with recognizing and combating their illnesses. Today we’ll be discussing the primary causes of clinical depression, going over its primary symptoms, and connecting you with key resources to assist you if you are suffering from this affliction.
Causes of Clinical Depression
In most cases, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. That’s why it can be so difficult to pin down one specific source. Even something as simple as a small change in the balance of your hormones can contribute to the development of major depression. Clinical depression may also be caused by alcohol or drug abuse, certain medical conditions, and some forms of medication (like steroids). Furthermore, individuals who are subjected to emotional, physical, or sexual abuse have a drastically increased likelihood of experiencing major depression. Working with an experienced psychiatrist will allow you to identify the cause of your depression and determine whether your children might be biologically vulnerable to the illness.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression
According to Mayo Clinic, these are the primary symptoms of clinical depression:
- Depressed mood. This includes feelings of persistent sadness, anxiousness, emptiness, or despair. Clinically depressed people may also experience feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, or helplessness. Young children often convey this symptom through constant irritability or restless fits of anger and distress.
- Reduced interest. Many clinically depressed individuals lose enthusiasm for activities they used to enjoy and treasure, include hobbies, enjoying their favorite books, films, and games, and spending personal time with family and friends. This symptom may even affect one’s ability to enjoy sex and intimacy with a partner.
- Significant changes in weight. Victims of major depression often lose weight when not dieting due to a sharp decrease in appetite. However, several others experience weight gain due to an increase in appetite and decrease in physical activity. In either case, these shifts in body weight are a strong indication of the illness.
- Sleep irregularities. Some depressed individuals develop insomnia, a serious condition that makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Unfortunately, insomnia can exacerbate the other symptoms of depression, including fatigue and decreased energy. Conversely, those who are clinically depressed can feel an increased desire to sleep and rest, which can contribute to a significant decrease in daily activity at work and home.
- Noticeable restlessness or slowed behavior. These symptoms are usually the direct result of a depressed person’s irregular sleeping patterns.
- Fatigue or loss of energy. Individuals suffering from these symptoms will often feel “dragged down” and incapable of participating in daily chores and activities. They may feel a strong compulsion to nap or rest throughout the day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt. Depressed people can develop a tendency to blame themselves for unfortunate events or outcomes that they had nothing to do with. In some cases, feelings of self-hatred can compel them to immediately associate negative situations in life with their own perceived inadequacies and flaws.
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide. This is by far the most dangerous symptom of major depression. If left without support or treatment, clinically depressed individuals have the potential to self-harm or hurt other people. These behaviors can result in grievous wounds or even death. If you or someone you know is fixating on thoughts of suicide or harming others, then seek immediate professional assistance. This condition necessitates immediate intervention to protect everyone involved.
Seeking Help for Your Clinical Depression
Bear in mind that almost all clinical depression symptoms can improve with the proper application of psychological counseling and antidepressants. And the earlier you begin treatment for your clinical depression, the more effective it will be. Now that you understand the causes and symptoms of major depression, you should have a strong indication of whether you suffer from it or not. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to seek counsel and appropriate treatment from a doctor or mental health specialist. These experts can use physical examinations, interviews, and lab tests to assess your health and determine whether any medical conditions are causing your troubling symptoms. If not, they will begin psychological evaluation sessions.
For mild and moderate depression, psychotherapy is usually sufficient for mitigating and managing adverse symptoms. However, for severe depression or for certain people, utilization of medication may be necessary as well. Antidepressants are invaluable tools for controlling and regulating mood by influencing the release of certain neurotransmitters (particularly serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) in the brain. By working with your mental health specialist, you can create a customized treatment plan that perfectly addresses your unique symptoms.
Overcome Your Depression With Family Psychiatry of North Jersey
If you have any questions about clinical depression or need assistance with diagnosing or treating any mental illness or condition, then don’t hesitate to contact us and request an appointment today. Our peerless team of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and counselors have extensive experience with aiding individuals of every age and gender with improving their mental health and regaining control of their lives. Above all, never lose hope for a better future. Your circumstances can and will improve if you seek help.