We've all had the blues, but how do you know when you're clinically depressed?
Depression is too often missed, misdiagnosed or mistreated.
The classic symptoms of clinical depression include depressed mood, decreased
ability to think or make decisions, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, decreased
appetite, lost interest or pleasure in most activities, sleep disturbances,
apathy, decreased energy, and fatigue. Of course, these symptoms may be the
signs of many other medical conditions as well, so your physician will need
to do a thorough medical evaluation. If depression is your diagnosis, pursue
medical treatment sooner rather than later- the same way you would for any other
Depression is a common word in our vocabulary. We use it to refer to hard economic
times (The Great Depression). We use it to talk about the weather (tropical
depression). And we commonly use it to express our feelings or emotions saying
things like "This weather is depressing" or "This room is depressing". Many
women glibly talk about being depressed over a minor event. But for nearly
19 million adult Americans (9.5% of our adult population), depression is a serious
medical condition that is misunderstood, underdiagnosed, and too often, undertreated.
Everyone has felt sad or depressed or "down in the dumps" at some point
in their lives; this is totally normal. What is not normal is
for that feeling of depression to linger and intensify, nearly every day, all
day, for two weeks or longer, and to interfere with nearly all aspects of a
person's life: the ability to work, sleep, eat and enjoy once-pleasurable activities.
Without treatment, symptoms can last for months or even years.
Depression does not discriminate. It affects individuals of all ages, races,
and socioeconomic backgrounds. It also affects both genders, although it is
diagnosed twice as often in women as in men. One in four women can expect to
be diagnosed with depression during her lifetime.
Depression increases the risk for subsequent physical illness, disability and
premature death. According to the World Health Organization, depression is
projected to become the leading cause of disability by the year 2020. Depression
affects a person's quality of life and also strains relationships with family
and friends. Depression is very costly in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity,
reduced quality of work, employee turnover, and on-the-job accidents. Depression
costs the U.S. an estimated $44 billion per year.
Signs and symptoms of depression:
A majority of the following symptoms must be present for at
least two weeks in order to be diagnosed with clinical depression.
- persistent sadness or unhappiness
- loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- sudden change in appetite
- disruption of normal sleep pattern
- physical discomfort
- difficulty thinking or concentrating
- thoughts of suicide or death.
It is important to note that these symptoms will not just go away on their
own. Clinical depression is a very real medical condition that requires proper
diagnosis and treatment.
For more information about depression or other mental health issues, click
Created: 11/14/2003  - Donnica Moore, M.D.