Clinical depression is not just normal sadness - like when grieving a loved one or being down for a day or two. Clinical depression typically consumes a person in their day-to-day living. And it may continue for weeks or months. This type of depression interferes with the person’s work or school, their relationships, and with their ability to enjoy life and have fun. Some people feel as if life is hopeless or that they are empty inside.
Depression commonly manifests physically, through stomach pains, headaches, disrupted or excessive sleep, and motor control difficulty. While the causes of depression are unknown, a predisposition for it runs in families and it can be triggered by trauma and adverse life circumstances.
In a given year, 7 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with this condition; women are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed than men (American Psychiatric Association).
People tend to suffer higher rates of depression after giving birth and in late fall. Depression and anxiety often exacerbate each other and people with depression commonly have difficulty concentrating on tasks and conversations. Some people abuse alcohol and drugs or overeat as a way of coping, causing them to develop other medical problems. Depressed people are also at increased risk for self-harm.
When faced with the emptiness and hopelessness of clinical depression, many people find it a struggle just to wake up in the morning and get out of bed. Everyday tasks we may take for granted - like showering, eating, or going to work or school - seem become impossible for a person living with depression. Clinical depression is a mental illness characterized by prolonged emotional symptoms including:
Diagnosing depression involves a psychiatric evaluation and physical tests to determine whether a person’s symptoms are actually being caused by a different disorder. A person must have been experiencing symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression. Every case is unique and requires individual attention, but there are a number of effective complementary ways of treating depression, including:
- Talk therapy
- Adopting a healthier lifestyle
Many men suffer from depression. However, the symptoms of depression in men can be very different than the symptoms in women. A depressed man may appear to be angry or aggressive instead of sad. Their families, friends, and even their doctors may not recognize the anger or aggression for what it really is - depression. Men themselves are less likely than women to recognize, talk about, and seek treatment for depression. Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. Without treatment it can affect the ability to think, feel and handle daily activities. The anger related to men’s depression can also affect their marriage, employment and other relationships.
When we see a friend or family member in distress, most of us want to reach out and offer a hand. However, when it comes to helping someone with clinical depression we often remain silent, fearful of the stigma attached to depression. There is no reason to be ashamed, and no reason to not help someone who is going through the challenges of living with this disorder.
For more information about helping your loved one suffering from depression check out these articles from PsychCentral: