May 24, 2024

Clinical Depression Symptoms

Everyone has days where they feel sad or discouraged. Usually these episodes are related to a disappointing or stressful event in life. It may be the loss of a job or a problem in a relationship. Often the death of a family member will bring on a feeling of listlessness or sadness. But these times of discouragement do not last indefinitely.

Eventually, the sharp emotional pain heals with the passage of time, and the individual expects to eventually see a brighter tomorrow. Sometimes, however, an individual finds himself or herself feeling a sadness that doesn’t improve with time, and they seem unable to shake the overwhelming sensation of gloom and doom.

What is Clinical Depression

Those who are unable to shake depression may be suffering from what is termed clinical depression. Clinical depression meets the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorders.  It was named, described, and classified as a mood disorder in the 1980 edition of the American Psychiatric Association.  The disorder involves a mood that is low enough to interfere with everyday life. There is loss of self-esteem, along with a loss of pleasure in activities normally enjoyed. It is describe as a deep sadness. The word clinical classifies it as serious enough to require psychiatric treatment.

Clinical depression usually occurs between the ages of 20 to 30 years. Sometimes there is another peak between 30 and 40 years of age.

Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Individuals who experience clinical depression describe it as a black hole they cannot climb out of. Worse yet, it is a deep hole they don’t even have a desire to climb out of. They feel a total lack of energy or motivation.

There is a commercial on television showing an individual too sad and not possessing enough energy to even feed the dog who sits at her feet. This is an accurate description of many types of clinical depression.

Following is a list of symptoms.  If a persons experiences some of these symptoms for at least two weeks he or she may suffer from depression:


  • Depressed feelings that last most of the day, stronger in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness or the opposite, which is slowness or lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities
  • Sleeping a great deal or very little
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Weight loss or gain

If an individual suffers from some of the above symptoms for more than two weeks, he should contact his doctor to seek professional help.

If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide GET HELP IMMEDIATELY.   You can call your local suicide hotline or the US National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and speak with a trained counselor.

Types of Clinical Depression

There are different types of clinical depression.  The most common types are:

Dysthymic Disorder

The mildest form of clinical depression. Symptoms much the same as major depressive disorder but not as severe. May last two years or more without interruption. The time period not depressed may only be a few weeks. Termed chronic.  Click here for more information.

Major Depressive Disorder

Lasts at least two weeks.  A common symptom is loss of interest in activities of life. This is also called unipolar disorder because the person dwells on the negative in life.  Click here for more information.

Manic Depression

Also called bipolar disorder.  This type of clinical depression is characterized by mood swings and sleeping very little during an ‘up’ period.  Moods range from elation to irritability.  To find out more about manic depression, click here.

Postpartum Depression

This is a major depressive disorder that occurs after having a baby.  For more information click here.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This is a major depression that occurs during certain seasons of the year, usually winter.  It is also called SAD for short.  Click here for more information.

Causes and Risk Factors of Clinical Depression

Some theories suggest depression is caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, especially serotonin.  Most psychiatrists and psychologists believe depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological elements.  MRI images of those suffering from depression are different from those of people who do not suffer from depression.

Some forms of depression run in families, especially bipolar disorder.

Stressful events, such the death of a loved one, or a divorce, may trigger depression.

Serious illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, or chronic pain are often accompanied by depression. It has been noted that both the depression and the medical problem are more severe when occurring together.

Depression also frequently accompanies post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorders.

Depressed ManTreatment of Clinical Depression

Treatment for depression has a high success rate, but the sooner treatment is instituted, the greater the chance it will be successful.   The first step is to see a physician or mental health specialist.  Some physical conditions such as hypothyroidism can cause depression.  Therefore, a doctor will run tests to rule out physical conditions as a cause.  He or she will then take a history in order to determine whether a specific event or cause such as a traumatic life event triggered the depression.


The most common treatments for depression include antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. Antidepressants that are used are those that affect the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.  Some of these medications include Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, and Celexa.  These medications are termed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, (SSIR’s). Most of these medications are available in generic form.

Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s), such as Effexor and Cymbalta are also used.   Side effects include headaches, nausea, jitters, or insomnia.  As time progresses, the side effects tend to become less.  Tricyclics are older antidepressants that are not used as often these days because of side effects.


Psychotherapy, which is also called talk therapy has proven to be effective as well.  The three most common types of psychotherapy include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.  A combination of the three therapies is commonly applied.  During therapy sessions, patients are taught to reframe negative thought patterns.  Therapists also use questioning to probe into possible incidents that may cause the depression.

Self Help – Home Remedies

It is important to realize that although obtaining professional help is important, there is much the individual can do to treat, or at least improve the problem of depression if the depression is of mild severity.

Physical exercise boosts the serotonin and endorphin levels in the blood stream.  These chemicals are referred to as the “feel good” chemicals that are released naturally in the body.  Proper nutrition, including vitamins and supplements also contribute to proper functioning of the body, including the brain.  Social support groups are vital to a sense of well being for all individuals.


Clinical depression is an illness that must be treated just as any physical illness needs to be treated.  Like a physical illness, it produces dysfunction and pain in a person’s life.  Most importantly, like a physical illness, the sooner treatment begins, the more likely treatment is to be successful.  It is vital to remember that because treatment has a high chance of success, those who suffer this condition have hope for a brighter future.


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