Clinical depression affects 16% of the population at one time or another and is one of the most widespread ailments in the world. Although both men and women are affected by clinical depression, one in four women will suffer from the problem, while one in 8 men might have clinical depression. The discrepancy disappears after women reach menopause, and older women are less likely to suffer from the problem than their younger counterparts.
Many people erroneously confuse clinical depression with "the blues" or regular sadness. They may expect themselves or others to simply "snap out of it" or may believe that a simple diet and exercise routine will solve the problem. This may be a good way of dealing with occasional slumps or the blahs, but clinical depression is radically different in that it is more persistent than an occasional bad mood. Although sadness is one of the major symptoms of clinical depression, it is not the same thing, and there are many more signs of clinical depression than a low mood.
Clinical depression varies from regular depression or sadness in that it reaches a level at which the sufferer can no longer continue with his or her regular routine. Some of the symptoms of clinical depression include: a persistent sadness that will not go away, feelings of worthlessness or guilt that seem obsessive, a lack of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, a shift an appetite in which one either eats radically more or less than before, changes in sleep patterns, a lack of interest in personal hygiene, obsessive thoughts of death or suicide, and social withdrawal or aggression. If any of these, particularly having suicidal thoughts, reaches such an intense level that normal functioning is no longer possible, it is very likely that the person is suffering from clinical depression, for which he or she needs treatment immediately.
Treatment for clinical depression varies and often there may be disagreement concerning the best way to deal with the problem. The combination of drugs and talking therapy is the most common form of treatment for clinical depression. Sever cases of clinical depression require hospitalization, particularly if the patient seems likely to harm him or herself or another person. The length of hospitalization can vary form person to person depending on the severity of the case. Medicine to treat clinical depression is often considered to be an effective treatment, although it should be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment which will teach the patient how to adapt coping mechanisms into his or her life to deal with clinical depression.
Many people who have suffered from clinical depression will have another episode later in life. It is not uncommon for a woman who has had clinical depression in her teens to suffer from post-partum depression after she has a baby. However, some people do not have repeat episodes later on and can continue living a normal life after the cessation of treatment. The most successful recovery from clinical depression involves learning ways of coping with stressors and events that may trigger the depression. Once a person learns to deal with these external and internal factors, the chances of clinical depression recurring are relatively low.
Juliet Cohen writes articles for
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