How To Tell If You Have Clinical Depression
Clinical depression affects people in different ways.
The symptoms of clinical depression can be complex and vary from person-to-person.
Generally, if you have clinical depression:
- you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy
- you experience these symptoms for at least 2 weeks
- the symptoms are serious enough to interfere with work, social life or family
There are many other symptoms of clinical depression and you’re unlikely to have them all.
How Is Depression Syndrome Diagnosed
Everyone may feel sad or down from time to time. However, clinical depression has more intense symptoms that last two weeks or longer.
To determine whether you have clinical depression, your healthcare provider will ask questions. You may complete a questionnaire and provide a family history. Your healthcare provider may also perform an exam or order lab tests to see if you have another medical condition.
Types Of Diagnostic Tools
Researchers have been using such scales since the 1960s. One of the first, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, is still sometimes used today. However, there are many more scales available that are better suited for doctors to use with patients. There are even scales patients can use on their own to track or self-report depression symptoms.
While scales can offer key insights, they tend to be quite different from one another. The way they are administered, the questions they ask, and the way the answers are interpreted may not be the same from one scale to the next.
The inconsistencies of the tools, their use, and interpretation can make it challenging to determine the severity of someones depression, as different scales may provide different results. That said, when used along with other diagnostic measures and the judgment of an experienced clinician, the scales can be useful tools.
You May Like: 5 Risk Factors For Depression
Where Can I Find Clinical Trials For Depression
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so others may receive better help in the future.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information.
Can Untreated Depression Lead To Suicide
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. This is the worst but very real outcome of untreated or under-treated depression. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE or 800-273-TALK — or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.
Most people who suffer from clinical depression do not attempt suicide. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 90% of people who die from suicide have depression and other mental disorders, or a substance abuse disorder. Men commit almost 75% of suicides, even though twice as many women attempt it.
The elderly experience more depression and suicide than you might think. Forty percent of all suicide victims are adults over the age of 60. Older adults suffer more frequently from depression because of the frequent loss of loved ones and friends as they age. They also experience more chronic illnesses, more major life changes like retirement, and the transition into assisted living or nursing care.
Read Also: Does Omega 3 Help With Depression
Ancient Greek And Roman Philosophy
Hippocrates, a Greek physician, suggested that depression was caused by four imbalanced body fluids called humours: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm, and blood. Specifically, he thought that melancholia was caused by too much black bile in the spleen. Hippocrates’ treatments of choice included bloodletting, baths, exercise, and diet.
A Roman philosopher and statesman named Cicero, in contrast, believed that melancholia had psychological causes such as rage, fear, and grief.
In the last years before the common era, in spite of some steps toward believing in more physical and mental causes of depression, it was still a very common belief among even educated Romans that depression and other mental illnesses were caused by demons and by the anger of the gods.
Depression And Suicide Risk
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Deep despair and hopelessness can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and watch for the warning signs:
- Talking about killing or harming ones self.
- Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped.
- An unusual preoccupation with death or dying.
- Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish .
- Getting affairs in order .
- Saying things like Everyone would be better off without me, or I want out.
- A sudden switch from being extremely down to acting calm and happy.
If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern and seek help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.
If you are feeling suicidal
When youre feeling suicidal, your problems dont seem temporarythey seem overwhelming and permanent. But with time, you will feel better, especially if you get help. There are many people who want to support you during this difficult time, so please reach out!
Recommended Reading: How To Get Self Confidence Back After Depression
Who Is At Risk For Depression
Depression can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender or circumstances. About 16 million Americans experience depression each year.
Women may experience depression more often than men. And your genetics or other health conditions can increase the likelihood that youll have at least one depressive episode in your lifetime.
What Are The Symptoms Of Depression And How Is It Diagnosed
The NHS recommends that you should see your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.
Doctors make decisions about diagnosis based on manuals. The manual used by NHS doctors is the International Classification of Diseases .
When you see a doctor they will look for the symptoms that are set out in the ICD-10 guidance. You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression. You might have just experience some of them.
Some symptoms of depression are:
- low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry,
- having less energy to do certain things,
- losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy,
- reduced concentration,
You may also find that with low mood you:
- feel less pleasure from things,
- feel more agitated,
- find your thoughts and movements slow down, and
- have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Your doctor should also ask about any possible causes of depression. For example, they may want to find out if youve experienced anything traumatic recently which could be making you feel this way.
There are no physical tests for depression. But the doctors may do some tests to check if you have any physical problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause depression.
On the NHS website, they have a self-assessment test which can help you to assess whether you are living with depression: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
Does Depression Look The Same In Everyone
Depression can affect people differently, depending on their age.
Children with depression may be anxious, cranky, pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die.
Older children and teens with depression may get into trouble at school, sulk, be easily frustrated feel restless, or have low self-esteem. They also may have other disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or substance use disorder. Older children and teens are more likely to experience excessive sleepiness and increased appetite . In adolescence, females begin to experience depression more often than males, likely due to the biological, life cycle, and hormonal factors unique to women.
Younger adults with depression are more likely to be irritable, complain of weight gain and hypersomnia, and have a negative view of life and the future. They often have other disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and substance use disorders.
Middle-aged adults with depression may have more depressive episodes, decreased libido, middle-of-the-night insomnia, or early morning awakening. They also may more frequently report having gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
Ive Been Depressed My Whole Life How Long Does It Take To Heal
Oftentimes when weve experienced depression or anxiety our whole lives, we begin to see them as traits or immovable aspects of our personalities. We dont even have a blueprint or memory of what experiencing life without low energy or obsessive thinking feels like. When we become fully identified with our emotional states, it prevents us from seeing another way of being and a sense of futility or hopelessness pervades every thought, every emotion, and every inaction.
Usually, it is a transformative experience or insight that must shake us out of this motionless daze. Sometimes transformative experiences can be pleasurable or nurturing, but often, it is incredible amounts of pain or hitting an emotional rock bottom that acts as the catalyst.
When people who have reached rock bottom are reaching out for help or ready to make a change, they are arriving not from a place of clarity and hope, but from a place of my pain has become so unbearable, I am going to have to give myself up to something outside of me even though I have no cause or evidence to believe in its power. This is a person who has run out of all other options and the something outside of them, for the purposes of this piece, is a mental health therapist. In reality, it can be a multitude of somethings .
Just remember, there is no shame in where we start, only the gift of ending up in places we could have never imagined for ourselves.
How Long Does Depression Last
Depression, or major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder. Different than just feeling blue or down in the dumps, clinical depression is believed to be caused by imbalances of chemicals in the brain.
To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you must experience at least five depression symptoms, once a day, for at least two weeks. Symptoms include being less interested in most activities you once enjoyed, feeling worthless or guilty , feeling unusually tired and lacking energy, and more.
Major depressive disorder can be highly recurrent, with at least half of the people who experience one episode having one or more additional episodes in their lifetimes.
How long your depression lasts depends on lifestyle factors and whether or not you receive prompt treatment. It can last for several weeks, months, or years.
Severities Of Clinical Depression
Clinical depression can often come on gradually. So it can be difficult to notice when something is wrong. You might try to cope with the symptoms without realising you’re unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.
The severity of clinical depression depends on how much impact it has on your daily life:
- mild clinical depression has some impact
- moderate clinical depression has a significant impact
- severe clinical depression almost impossible to get through daily life
You can have clinical depression and other mental health disorders. For example, anxiety, psychosis or other difficulties.
Don’t Miss: What To Do If Your Suffering From Depression
Whats The Difference Between Grief And Depression
Given that the primary symptom associated with depression is sadness, it can be easy to think of grief or bereavement as depression. But grief is a natural response to specific experiences, such as the end of a relationship or the death of a loved one. While you might feel regret or remorse, and you might withdraw from usual activities if you are experiencing grief, youre unlikely to feel the overwhelming sense of worthlessness, thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and other symptoms of depression. Another important difference is that in grief, painful feelings usually come in waves and are often mixed with positive memories.
In some cases, however, grief and depression do coexist, or grief can trigger depression, according to experts writing in the journal American Family Physician. Having a mental health professional help you distinguish between them can ensure you get the support you need.
How Do I Know Which Type I Have
If you think you might have any type of depression, its important to follow up with a doctor. All depression types discussed in this article are treatable, though it might take some time to find the right treatment for you.
If youve had a previous episode of depression and think it may be happening again, see a therapist or another mental health professional right away.
If youve never had depression before, start with a primary care physician. Some symptoms of depression can be related to an underlying physical condition that should be addressed.
Try to give your doctor as much information about your symptoms as you can. If possible, mention:
- when you first noticed the symptoms
- how theyve affected your daily life
- any other mental health conditions you have
- any information about a history of mental illness in your family
- all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take, including supplements and herbs
It might feel uncomfortable, but try to tell your doctor everything. This will help them give you a more accurate diagnosis and refer you to the right type of mental health professional.
Recommended Reading: Coping With Severe Depression And Anxiety
Earliest Accounts Of Depression
The earliest written accounts of what is now known as depression appeared in the second millennium B.C.E. in Mesopotamia. In these writings, depression was discussed as a spiritual rather than a physical condition. Like other mental illnesses, it was believed to be caused by demonic possession. As such, it was dealt with by priests rather than physicians.
The idea of depression being caused by demons and evil spirits has existed in many cultures, including those of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Chinese, and Egyptians. Because of this belief, it was often treated with methods such as beatings, physical restraint, and starvation in an attempt to drive the demons out.
While many believed that demons were the root cause of depression, there were a number of ancient Greek and Roman doctors who believed that depression was a biological and psychological illness.
Greek and Roman doctors used therapeutic methods such as gymnastics, massage, diet, music, baths, and a medication containing poppy extract and donkey’s milk to treat their patients.
Why Is Untreated Depression Considered To Be A Disability
Depression can render people disabled in their work life, family life, and social life. Left untreated, clinical depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the U.S. economy. Untreated depression is responsible for more than 200 million days lost from work each year. The annual cost of untreated depression is more than $43.7 billion in absenteeism from work, lost productivity, and direct treatment costs.
You May Like: How To Keep Going When Depressed
Ways You Can Look After Yourself
If youre depressed, there are steps you can take to lift your mood and help your recovery. These steps can help if youve been depressed in the past and want to stay well.
- Talk about how youre feeling. Talking to someone you trust, or finding peer support, can help you feel better and less alone.
- Eat well. A healthy diet can lift your mood and maintain your mental health.
- Stay physically active. Exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do, but it can ease the symptoms of depression. Research suggests it may be as effective as antidepressants in helping you feel better.
- Spend time in nature. Research shows that being in nature can make us feel happier, feel our lives are more worthwhile, and reduce our levels of depression.
- Avoid cigarettes and alcohol. They may feel like theyre helping at first, but they make things worse in the long run.
- Consider mindfulness, a technique you can learn to be fully engaged in the present. Studies show it can help reduce the symptoms of depression.
- Try talking therapy to stay well. NICE guidelines recommend CBT or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy if youve been depressed in the past.
Therapists Therapy And Therapists In Therapy
Ashley has extensive professional and personal experience in coping with high-functioning depression. The Nashville-based therapist admits, I started therapy as an adolescent and began taking psych meds as a young adult. Ashley, who started her private practice 10 years ago, adds, The meds allow me to feel normal, like myself.
The therapist has many friends, including mental health professionals who take psych meds and/or are in therapy for depression and anxiety. She explains, Many of my patients are high-functioning. Youd see them on the street and not know something is wrong.
Awareness of what depression and anxiety feel like helps Ashley get into the psyche of her patients. But she suffers bouts of self-stigma over what sometimes feels like a clash between her professional and personal selves. She admits, laughing, Once I mentioned to my shrink I felt shame about being a therapist and in treatment. My therapist said, Ashley, Im in therapy too.
You May Like: How Is Depression Different From Feeling Sad