Warning Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Depression is being colored blind and constantly being told how colorful the world is _ Anonymous

Fast Facts on Depression

  • Depression is more common among women than men.
  • Symptoms include a lack of excitement and interest in things that used to bring happiness to a person.
  • The behavior pattern shows mood changes that can be distinguished from the normal behavior of the person and can be recognized as clinical depression.
  • The causes that lead to depression include a complex combination of behavioral, environmental, biological, psychological and genetic factors.

What is Depression?

Feeling down or depressed from time to time is normal behavior but when such negative feelings of hopelessness and despair take control of your thoughts and mind, you are suffering from clinical depression. Feeling extremely sad and helpless in response to life’s struggles and setbacks is normal behavior. Depression completely changes the way you think, feel and perform in your daily life activities. It severely affects one’s ability to work, study, eat, sleep and go about the daily activities of life. Depressed individuals do not find anything exciting or pleasurable in life and prefer to stay alone, in a sad and depressed state. 

Constant sadness, feeling down, and loss of interest in daily activities are the common symptoms of depression. If these symptoms persist for a longer period, it leads to clinical depression and other related neurological symptoms. Depression severely affects the work performance, daily activities, and social and political life of the patient.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 8% of the population above 12 years of age suffers from depression every two weeks. These figures are alarming and show the severity of the problem. The World health organization (WHO) has recognized depression as the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability among individuals. About 350 million individuals are affected by depression annually.

“Blaming myself for all the things going wrong in my life and the world, in general, is just the early stage of depression. I soon graduate into thinking I deserve nothing more than cold silent isolation and death”, states a psychiatric patient while describing his mental status.

Types of Mental Depression

There are various types of mental disorders that affect many different individuals across the world. The common ones include;

  1. Anxiety disorders including panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and phobias
  2. Depression and mood disorders
  3. Bipolar personality disorders
  4. Eating disorders
  5. Post-traumatic stress disorders
  6. Psychotic disorders including schizophrenia and others.

Causes of Depression

Depression can be caused by several different factors that may include the following;

Abuse: Any sort of physical, sexual or emotional abuse can lead to clinical depression.

Drugs and medications: Certain drugs and medications such as isotretinoin (commonly used for acne treatment), interferon-alpha (antiviral drug) and steroids can lead to depression and mental illnesses.

Conflict: Depression can also result from conflicts among family members or disputes with office employees or friends.

Death of a loved one: The immense grief from the sudden loss of a loved one can cause depression in sensitive individuals.

Genetic factors

Certain individuals are more vulnerable in developing depression due to a genetic predisposition. It is a complex trait whose alleles are present on many different genes rather than a single one. The genetics of depression are not simple and easy to understand; rather they exhibit complex patterns that differ among individuals.

A major life event

Sometimes even a positive event such as graduating, starting a new job or getting married can have a negative impact on a person’s personality and lead to depression. The syndrome of clinical depression is not a normal response to stressful life events, it is an abnormal behavior pattern that affects most individuals, in the present time.

Social isolation due to abnormal behaviors can further aggravate the condition and the fear of being cast out by family or social groups increases the severity of the condition.

Alcohol abuse can also lead to anxiety and depression. Drugs and alcohol temporarily provide feelings of pleasure and excitement but lead to long term depression and other mental illnesses.

Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression

  • Constant depressed mood
  • Reduced to no interest in activities that used to excite the patient in the past
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Sleeping disorders including insomnia (difficulty to sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
  • Psychomotor agitation for example restlessness and low energy
  • Delayed psychomotor skills such as the slowed pattern of activities, delayed movement and slowed speech
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of being unworthy and insignificant
  • The feeling of constant tension and guilt
  • Inability to think clearly and concentrate on daily tasks
  • Poor decision making or leadership skills
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide 

Diagnostic Tests for Depression

Depression is a mood disorder representing dull and poor state of mind, persistently low mood, constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. It is a persistent problem lasting from 6-8 months or longer.

If feelings of depression span over a longer duration, consider a consultation with a primary care physician or mental health specialist. Immediately seek medical help and consult a neurologist or psychiatrist as per the recommendation of your family doctor. It is important to ensure an accurate differential diagnosis and a safe and effective treatment plan.

The neurologist may order physical exams to check for the presence of any physical abuse and asking for a complete history of the individual. There are various options for getting to know the complete history of the individual in order to understand the cause of depression and mental illness. A test called The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale has 21 questions and the resulting score describes the severity of the condition. It is a commonly used assessment method used by psychologists across the world.

Conclusion

 Depression is a serious disorder and the patient needs love, care, affection and attention from their friends and family. The patient should consult a neurologist and follow the proper treatment plan.

If you are going through hell, keep going ¬ Winston Churchill

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