Signs of clinical depression and how to treat it

According to WebMD, the National Institute of Mental Health says that major depression affects about 6.7 percent of Americans over the age of 18. Also called clinical depression, this condition causes feelings of constant hopelessness and despair, as well as altered sleep patterns and appetite, difficulty working and lack of enjoyment of the company of friends and family.
WebMD explains that clinical depression sometimes affects people just once in their lives, but for others it can be a lifelong battle. Major depression can also be inherited, but others with no family history can suffer from it. Luckily, there are ways to treat and manage depression.
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What is major clinical depression?
WebMD explains that there are points in people's lives where they feel sad or low, but clinical depression is defined by a depressed mood most of the day (or sometimes just in the mornings), along with a loss of interest in hobbies, normal activities and even relationships. 
What are the symptoms for clinical depression?
The Mayo Clinic explains that many people with clinical depression have severe enough symptoms that they see them as problems in their day-to-day lives and activities. But some people might feel sad or hopeless and not really understand why. Here are the signs to look for, according to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD:
- Constant or frequent fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt 
- Impaired concentration and/or indecisiveness
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities 
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide. If you are having suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Change in appetite
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
In those suffering from clinical depression, these symptoms are present almost every day.
Who is at risk for clinical depression?
WebMD says that between 20 and 25 percent of adults may suffer an episode of major depression at some point during their lifetimes, but clinical depression also affects teens and children.
WebMD also notes that women are at an increased risk to develop clinical depression. Doctors attribute this increased risk to hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage and menopause. Other risk factors include genetic predisposition, balancing a family life with career, caring for an aging parent and raising children alone.
Other risk factors, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- Having low self-esteem or being too dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
- Experiencing traumatic or stressful events like physical or sexual abuse, the death or loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, financial problems
- Suffering childhood trauma or depression 
- Having blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide
- Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in an unsupportive situation
- Having a history of other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Abusing alcohol or illegal drugs
- Suffering a serious or chronic illness including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
- Taking some medications
How can clinical depression be treated?
Clinical depression is often treated with drugs and sometimes in combination with psychotherapy. The Mayo Clinic explains that your doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms, but that often times many people with clinical depression also benefit from speaking to a psychologist or other form of mental health provider.
There are a wide range of drug treatments that help with the management of clinical depression, and by talking to your doctor you can figure out the best plan for you. For the Mayo Clinic's comprehensive list about the different types of drugs available, click here. When it comes to choosing the right medication, the Mayo Clinic also notes that finding the right drug can be a process. Sometimes what worked for a family member will also work for you, but other times it's trial and error. 
When it comes to treating clinical depression with psychotherapy, the Mayo Clinic explains that talking about your condition and related issues can really help the process. There are different types of psychotherapy that can be effective, and your provider will talk about what is best for you. In general, the Mayo Clinic says psychotherapy is aimed at helping you:
- Adjust to a crisis or other stressful changes or difficulties
- Identify negative attitudes and behaviors and replace them with more healthy, positive ones
- Explore relationships and experiences
- Find better ways to cope and problem solve
- Identify issues that contribute to your depression and change causative behaviors 
- Regain a sense of satisfaction and control in your life
- Learn to set realistic goals 
- Develop healthier behaviors to tolerate and accept distress
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If you're experiencing any signs of depression, contact your doctor to see what treatments and plans might be right for you. If you are having suicidal thoughts, get in touch with your doctor right away, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Resources Mayo Clinic and WebMD
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