Clinical depression manifests itself as a chronic feeling of sadness, which often does not go away without medical intervention. The condition is widespread in the Western world, with around 10% of American adults suffering from it. Clinical depression symptoms are similar to those caused by a tragic event, but with clinical depression, the sadness does not dissipate over time. Read on to discover more about the causes and some of the most common symptoms of clinical depression.
What Causes Depression?
Clinical depression is a complex psychological disorder that can be caused by many different factors often working together. These can range from external life events - such as grief, isolation, and stress - to internal factors - like genetics, hormone levels, and brain chemistry. Although the genetic component has not been found, there is a strong correlation between family history of clinical depression and likelihood of developing it.
There are also certain lifestyle habits that can contribute to the onset on clinical depression; for example, consumption of alcohol, drugs, and caffeine, or a lack of physical activity. These can affect the chemical and hormonal balances within the body and also worsen certain symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms?
Potential symptoms are numerous, and can be physiological or psychological. A few of the most common ones are:
Changes in sleep patterns. Those with depression often have trouble sleeping or else have a desire to sleep all the time, especially oversleeping in the mornings.
Loss of appetite and weight. Loss of appetite can result from a psychological coping mechanism or a physical feeling of nausea that clinical depression can cause. The stress-induced depression also uses up a lot of energy, which can mean calories are being burned faster than usual, and this energy is often misdirected, going not to the organs that need it, but rather to maintaining the long-term stress reaction.
Unexplained aches and pains. The aforementioned stress reaction is supposed to be a short-term response to run from imminent danger, but in the long term, can lead to health problems. The clinical depression symptom of aches and pains results from the muscles naturally tensing up when stressed.
Continuous feeling of sadness. This clinical depression symptom is the top criterion for diagnosis, and the feelings are so overwhelming that it is impossible for the sufferer to simply “snap out of it”. Often, these negative feelings have no apparent cause, but can sometimes be triggered by specific events.
Feeling tearful. Uncontrollable tears are one of the more obvious symptoms that can lead to loved ones noticing that a person is depressed. The tears will often be triggered by things that would be considered “trivial” to non-sufferers, and they can be a source of shame and embarrassment for some.
No motivation. On its own, this does not necessarily mean that someone is suffering from clinical depression, but in the context of other clinical depression symptoms, this is a strong indicator. The lack of motivation results from feeling overwhelmed by everyday life, and so things are left undone. This can often have a negative effect on work and family life.
There are many clinical depression symptoms, and they can all vary in intensity, meaning every sufferer has a different experience of the condition. Clinical depression is treatable and is best dealt with in the early stages. Therefore, if you begin to see any clinical depression symptoms, it is important to see a doctor straight away.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). An Estimated 1 in 10 U.S. Adults Report Depression. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdepression/
- Depression Alliance. (2014). Information. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from http://www.depressionalliance.org/information/
- National Health Service UK. (2014). Clinical depression. Retrieved October 15, 2014, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx