Clinical depression is a mental health disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed. It can also lead to changes in appetite, sleep, energy levels, concentration, and self-worth.
People who have clinical depression quite often have had a fairly slow progression into it. The exact cause of clinical depression is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
Biological factors may include genetics, changes in brain chemistry, and sometimes medical conditions. People with a family history of depression are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Depression can also be caused by changes in brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals play a role in mood regulation. Medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, can also lead to depression.
Psychological factors may include stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss, or a divorce. Other psychological factors that can contribute to depression include low self-esteem, negative thinking patterns, and a history of abuse or trauma.
Sometimes environmental reasons play a part in clinical depression. These include poverty, social isolation, and lack of support. People who live in poverty or who are socially isolated are more likely to develop depression.
The effects of clinical depression on friends, family members, and coworkers is not to be underestimated.
Those who are depressed may withdraw from social activities, become irritable or angry, and have difficulty concentrating or making decisions. They may also miss work or school, or have trouble fulfilling their responsibilities at home. This can be stressful and frustrating for loved ones, who may not know how to help.
Clinical depression is not always easy to diagnose, because it is common for people to experience symptoms of sadness and anxiety from time to time.
However, there are clues that a Dr will look out for when considering if a person is clinically depressed.
Persistent sadness or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
Changes in appetite (either overeating or under-eating)
Changes in sleep patterns (either insomnia or excessive sleepiness)
Loss of energy or fatigue
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Restlessness or feeling slowed down
Thoughts of death or suicide
Feeling worthless or guilty
Changes in physical appearance, such as weight loss or gain
If you believe that yourself of a loved one may have clinical depression, it is essential that your first port of call is your registered GP. They will be able to do an assessment and find out if you are classified as clinically depressed.
Some people find that going onto medication helps reduce symptoms, and it is often accompanied with psychological treatments such as talking therapies. Most commonly in the UK the NHS use CBT to treat depression, but there are a number of other options to help depression as well, when seekinf therapy from a private practitioner.
Clinical depression is a treatable condition, and with the right treatment, most people can recover and go on to live fulfilling lives.
Unhelpfully, there are still some stigmas attached to being diagnosed with clinical depression. Some people may believe that it is a sign of weakness or that the person is simply lazy or unmotivated. However, it is important to remember that clinical depression is a real medical condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is not something that people can control, and it is not their fault.
If you are supporting someone who has clinical depression, be patient and understanding. Depression can be a very difficult condition to deal with, so it is important to be patient with the person you are supporting.
Listen to the person without judgment or trying to resolve the issue. Let the person know that you are there to listen and that you understand what they are going through, but try not to problem solve or offer resolutions to what you think the problem is. The person with the depression is the only one who truly understands the way they feel, so ask them how they would like to feel better.
Encourage them to seek professional help. If the person is not already in treatment, encourage them to seek out a good therapist. Perhaps their friend or co-worker has a recommendation of someone they’ve seen for therapy, or you can use directories such as the www.aphp.co.uk one to find a therapist.
Offer practical help. This could include things like running errands, cooking meals, or helping with childcare.
Don’t give up. It may take time for the person to recover, but it is important to be supportive and encouraging throughout the process.
If you’d like to chat more about how you feel, feel free to get in touch.
Director APHP & NRPC