Mental health can be as vital as physical health. In some cases, our mental health may even affect our physical health. Take Clinical Depression, for instance.
Clinical Depression is a condition in which the affected individual isn’t merely suffering from a fleeting sadness, but a profound, lingering sadness very possibly accompanied by a loss of motivation and loss of interest in a wide range of normal and pleasurable activities…and, as opposed to a passing emotion, it is an unshakable feeling – one which, in extreme instances, may even leave that individual devoid of the desire to go on living.
Causes for Clinical Depression
Causes for Clinical Depression include, but are certainly not limited to, a genetic predisposition for depression, a hormonal imbalance, chronic pain, substance abuse or a traumatic experience. Although this type of depression, which is also referred to as Major Depressive Disorder, may require long-term treatment, most of the time Clinical Depression can be alleviated with the help of a therapist and/or medication.
Examples of Medications Used to Treat Depression
Typically, Clinical Depression is treated with antidepressants. The most common antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which help to balance serotonin levels in the brain. These are drugs like Zoloft and Prozac and may have side effects including nausea, nervousness, trouble sleeping, tremors and sexual problems.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are antidepressants which can relieve pain and are often prescribed when chronic pain leads to depression.
Tetracyclic antidepressants are prescribed to balance neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby easing symptoms of depression. Side effects may include drowsiness, weakness, blurry vision, headaches, dry mouth and lightheadedness.
Although it is not fully understood how they work, tricyclic antidepressants may be prescribed with SSRIs when other antidepressants don’t work, but they can cause serious side effects, including low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and seizures.
Older drugs, like 5-HT2 receptor antagonists and monoamine oxidase inhibitors may negatively interact with certain foods and other drugs.
Dopamine reuptake blockers may be prescribed for seasonal affective disorder.
Clinical Depression Symptoms
The experiences of those who suffer from Clinical Depression may vary in degree and frequency and may significantly impact the quality of life in a variety of ways. In fact, the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder can range from something as seemingly innocuous as unexplained headaches to an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts.
A more comprehensive list of symptoms for clinical depression includes:
- Feelings of sadness and crying jags,
- Anxiety, frustration, agitation, excessive irritability and angry outbursts,
- A lack of energy or extreme fatigue possibly to the point of slowed thinking, speaking or body movements,
- Trouble with concentration, memory and sound decision making,
- Loss of interest in normal activities, hobbies and sex,
- A fixation on failure, guilt and feelings of self-blame and worthlessness,
- Recurring thoughts of death and unfortunately, in extreme cases, suicide attempts.
Clinical Depression symptoms may also reach extremes on both sides of the spectrum, including:
- Restlessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping and
- Reduced appetite, weight loss or cravings for food and weight gain.
In fact, certain studies show that Clinical Depression may negatively affect our health in an abundance of ways. Clinical Depression can lead to various aches and pains with no apparent cause, but it can also physically affect us in far more seriously. It may actually begin to affect the cardiovascular, digestive and immune systems. Studies show that people who are clinically depressed are more likely to die after suffering from a heart attack. Clinical Depression can cause the blood vessels to contract, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is linked to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Poor eating habits caused by Clinical Depression can lead to nutritional deficiencies which may subsequently lead to digestive disturbances including stomach aches, cramps, constipation and diarrhea. Clinical Depression can also cause increased pain sensitivity and a weakened ability to fight off every sickness from the common cold to much more serious illnesses and disease. Immune issues created by Clinical Depression may also leave sufferers more vulnerable to infections.
Some people suffering from Clinical Depression may not understand the reason they feel the way they do. Some avoid social interaction possibly or sabotage relationships. Children and teens with depression may perform poorly or act out in school. Clinically depressed adults may have similar issues at work. Some turn to alcohol, drugs or sleep in an attempt to escape their overwhelming feelings of depression. Clinical Depression in older adults, which should not be considered a normal part of aging, may include reclusive tendencies or personality changes.
If You Suffer from Depression, You’re Not Alone
Clinical Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. According to the National Institute, approximately 19.4 million or 7.8% of all adults within the United States had at least one episode of major depression in 2019 and that percentage increased to almost double in people of more than one race. Most of the cases of depression occur in adults between the ages of 18 and 25 and women tend to be most commonly affected. Approximately 33% of Clinical Depression cases are left untreated.
If you feel depressed, talking to a close friend, relative or person of faith may help. If your depression is overwhelming to the point of suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately. You can also call your doctor, a mental health professional or call or text 988 to reach the 24-hour Suicide & Crisis Lifeline operating throughout the United States. There is also a Veterans’ Crisis Hotline which can be reached by calling 988 and then pressing 1 or texting 838255.