Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) or just depression, is a mental condition that is characterized by feelings of sadness and emptiness, loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, and many other symptoms.
Although around 300 million people throughout the world have clinical depression, many still don’t understand this mental illness. In this blog, we will answer seven clinical depression FAQs.
Depression has many different causes, including faulty mood regulation in the brain, genetics, medications, and other mental and physical conditions. Outside factors like stressful life events and even the climate can also cause or worsen depression symptoms.
The most important thing to remember is that you can’t control any of the factors mentioned. Depression is not your fault, nor is it a flaw in your character. It is a mental condition that can be diagnosed and treated in a variety of ways.
Depression is always diagnosed by a medical professional. Because certain physical conditions, like thyroid disorder and others, can cause symptoms of depression, your medical doctor may want to rule out any other causes before diagnosing you with clinical depression.
Once they’ve ensured your physical health, your medical doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist who can complete an evaluation to determine what condition best fits your symptoms, or they may perform the evaluation themselves.
Regardless of whether a psychiatrist or your general practitioner completes the evaluation, however, your symptoms will be compared to the ones outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM—5). Generally, a patient needs to experience five or more symptoms outlined in the DSM—5 in a two-week period to be diagnosed with clinical depression.
Traditionally, depression is treated with medication. Doctors use a variety of different medications, including selective serotonin reputake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs), and/or a vareity of other types of medications to treat various symptoms.
Many also find that professional counseling helps them with their depression symptoms.
Aside from the traditional options of medication and therapy, the FDA has also approved a treatment known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for clinical depression.
TMS uses a magnet, similar to an MRI magnet, to deliver pulses to the areas of the brain that depression affects. The pulses help these areas of the brain function more correctly, reducing symptoms of depression.
Many psychiatrists also prescribe ketamine infusions to help quickly relieve the symptoms of depression. Some patients have reported a reduction of their symptoms within hours of their infusion.
Because ketamine works so well, Johnson & Johnson developed a nasal spray that contains a derivative of ketamine to treat depression, called esketamine, which the FDA just approved in March of 2019.
Clinical depression doesn’t discriminate based upon age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Children are just as likely to get depression as adults.
Depression may affect children’s schoolwork and relationships and may be a co-occurring condition of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Depression can have what are known as co-occurring conditions, like anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, and even cancer, heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. But many of these conditions can also lead to depression as a co-occurring condition. So how do you tell which one is causing which?
The simple answer is your psychiatrist and/or general practitioner. It is important to discuss all of your symptoms with your medical professionals. They are trained to be able to tell what the underlying issue is based on all of your symptoms.
You may not think something is related to your condition, but you should still discuss it with your doctor and let them decide what is relevant.
How long depression lasts depends on what condition you have. Major depressive disorder symptoms may last for weeks or even months if not treated.
Dysthymia, or persistent depressive disorder, is a milder form of depression that lasts for more than two years. And seasonal affective disorder (SAD) will usually last for the duration of the winter months.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for clinical depression, so while symptoms may not always be at their worst, depression is likely a condition you will have to manage for your entire life.
Hopefully, this information helped you understand a little bit more about clinical depression. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of major depressive disorder, Serenity Mental Health Centers can help. Contact us to schedule an appointment and get ready to take back your life.