What Does Clinical Depression Actually Mean?

Depression affects roughly 20% of American teenagers, but not all of them have clinical depression. Clinical depression is just one of several types of the mental illness—others include major, manic and postpartum depression. So what is clinical depression, anyways?

Clinical depression is a mental illness that affects how you feel, think and act towards yourself and others. It’s more serious than just feeling depressed for a few days. What clinical depression represents is a persistent depression; it’s more of a relation to time and severity, rather than root cause.

Like other types of the illness, researchers believe it to be caused by a change in brain chemistry, which can happen naturally or be induced by outside factors, such as substance abuse. It can also be a part of other types of depression, such as major depression (the most common among adults), dysthymia and manic depression (bipolar disorder).

People with clinical depression often experience a change in mood, loss of appetite, insomnia or disrupted sleep and they often retreat from friends, family and activities they once found enjoyable.

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Signs of clinical depression will vary depending on the person and if they have any other types of depression; however, some common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Change in mood
  • Change in eating habits and sleeping patterns
  • Crying “for no reason”
  • Chronic sadness
  • Feeling lonely and helpless
  • Isolation
  • Spending a lot of time in bed
  • Lack of desire to participate in regular activities.

Many people with depression often leave their illness untreated, which can lead to substance abuse and other forms of self-harm or self-medicating. Anyone with persistent signs of depression should consult a counsellor, therapist or doctor for a treatment plan. Depression is genetic, so check your family history and see if there are any signs or if anyone (especially direct family members) has been diagnosed with depression.

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