Clinical depression is a severe condition that adversely affects how a person feels, thinks, and behaves. In contrast to normal sadness, clinical depression is much more persistent, and often interferes with a person’s ability to feel or anticipate pleasure, and interferes with functioning in daily life. Unchecked, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years, and if inadequately treated, depression can lead to severe impairment.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
Typically, a person is diagnosed with a major depression when he or she displays at least five of the symptoms mentioned below for two consecutive weeks.
Changes in sleeping patterns
Loss of energy or increased fatigue
Restlessness or irritability
Feelings of anxiety
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
Changes in appetite that lead to weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting
Visibly diminished interest or pleasure in activities most of the day, nearly every day.
Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness
Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
Thoughts of death or attempts at suicide
HOW IS DEPRESSION DIAGNOSED AND TREATED?
The first step is to see a doctor for a proper medical evaluation. Specific medications, and some medical conditions like thyroid disorder, can cause similar symptoms as depression. A doctor can rule out these possibilities through a physical examination, lab tests, and interview. If the doctor eliminates a medical condition as a cause, he or she can commence treatment or refer the patient to a mental health professional.
Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated in various ways. Mainstream treatment for depression includes antidepressant medications and psychotherapy, which can also be used in combination.