Clinical Depression Treatment And How It Is Diagnosed

in Understanding Depression


Clinical depression is a medical diagnosis that can only be made by a health care professional.

In order to diagnose clinical depression, psychologists, psychiatrists and other doctors look for specific symptoms, which must be present for at least two weeks and interfere with a patient’s ability to function in daily life.

Clinical depression treatment varies according to the patient’s specific symptoms, the severity of those symptoms and other factors.

Clinical Depression Symptoms

A patient will often report symptoms of clinical depression to a doctor during a routine exam. The patient may not even realize that he or she is depressed.

Many people visit their primary care doctors with symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, lack of motivation and sadness that they do not recognize as depression.

In order to determine what is causing symptoms, a doctor can give a patient a clinical depression test, which is usually a set of questions about recent emotional, physical and mental states.

The patient may also be given blood tests or other medical tests to rule out other conditions like hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormones) or anemia, which can cause some of the same symptoms that appear in people with clinical depression.

Learning BooksClinical Depression Definition

While there are some differences in the way it is diagnosed, clinical depression can be defined as having five of the following nine symptoms for more than two weeks, and the symptoms must interfere with the patient’s ability to function.

• Ongoing feelings of sadness and/or crying often for no obvious reason

• Feeling unusually tired

• Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed

• Increase or decrease in appetite

• Sleeping more or less

• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness

• Moving more sluggishly than usual or feeling more agitated and needing to move around more than usual

• Difficulty concentrating or formulating thoughts

• Thoughts of death or suicide

Types 123Clinical Depression Subtypes

Doctors usually use descriptions known as course specifiers to further classify clinical depression by subtype.

Course specifiers describe characteristics of the depression such as how severe it is, what caused it, when it occurred, and which symptom or symptoms stand out.

Clinical depression is classified as mild, moderate or severe.

Other subtypes of depression include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – This is depression that occurs mainly during months when the days are shorter and there is less sunlight, usually in winter.

Lethargy and irritability tend to be the primary symptoms of SAD, and treatment may include medication or light therapy.

Psychotic Depression – Depression that is accompanied by delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, or loss of contact with reality is classified as psychotic depression.

This is a serious, sometimes dangerous condition that requires hospitalization.

Adjustment Reaction Disorder – Mental health professionals sometimes refer to mild or moderate depression that arises after a particular stressful event as an adjustment reaction disorder.

This diagnosis may be appropriate if depression is precipitated by a major stressor, such as the loss of loved one, divorce or job loss.

DysthymiaDysthymia is a low-grade, chronic depression that persists for two years or more. People with dysthymia are sometimes prone to feelings of depression for their entire lives.

Treatment involves long-term management of the symptoms in much the same way as a person with diabetes must manage that illness indefinitely.

Perinatal Depression – Perinatal depression occurs around the time that a woman gives birth.

It may be related to fluctuation hormones or to the major physical and lifestyle changes that occur with pregnancy and caring for a new baby.

Medical DiseaseClinical Depression Treatment

For mild to moderate depression or depression that has not been present for a very long time, counseling may be the only treatment that a person requires.

However, severe or chronic depression often requires at least a short course of medication so that the depressed person can begin to work on emotional and psychological issues.

Nearly all clinical depression has a biological component. Often, the shame and guilt associated with depression cause patients to delay seeking help, which makes the biological aspect of the condition more pronounced.

The biology of depression is closely connected to the way the brain works and to thinking patterns such as pessimism and the tendency to ruminate on the difficulties one experiences.

As these thought patterns persist, they actually carve biochemical pathways in the brain that are more and more resistant to treatment.

At some point, if symptoms are not managed with counseling or another form of treatment, medication may be the only way to get the patient back on track.

Other clinical depression treatments include nutritional therapy, exercise, and mind-body exercises like meditation, tai chi and yoga.

These treatments focus on the connection between mind and body and the idea in order for a person to feel good emotionally and mentally, he or she must also be physically healthy.

Depression bookYou can read more about the specific ways in which clinical depression is diagnosed and classified in End Your Depression.

The guide provides in-depth information about clinical depression, its symptoms and ways to manage specific issues related to the disorder.



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