Clinical depression is a mood disorder that can affect your ability to complete daily tasks and socialize as you might typically do. It can arise in any developmental period, but it is common to see it establish itself during adulthood. For a doctor to diagnose a patient with depression, the symptoms should be present for a minimum of two weeks. This time frame might feel like a lifetime for those struggling with this debilitating mental health disorder.
On the other hand, manic depression, or bipolar disorder, is not the same as clinical depression. However, the two are commonly confused with one another. Those with bipolar experience periods of severe depressive moods that may be misdiagnosed for clinical depression.
What Does Clinical Depression Look Like?
Have you ever had trouble getting up out of bed, even as you watch the hours slip by? Nothing could be compelling enough to just get out of bed. Experiencing feelings like a gnawing sadness or pessimism, guilt or helplessness, and unexplainable physical pain and digestive discomfort are symptoms of depression. Other symptoms may include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Suicidal thoughts
If these symptoms are bothering you most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may want to consider seeing a medical professional for advice.
If you think you are suffering from depression, it may ease you to know that you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 17.3 million adults in the United States have had at least one major depressive episode; this is a staggering 7.1% of the adult population! It is thought that the risk factors of depression include experiencing significant life changes, trauma, stress, medication use, substance use, presence of a physical illness, and having a family history of the disorder. It is caused by a mix of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
The Different Types of Depression
Depression comes in slightly different forms. That’s right; depression is not always the same for everyone. The types include:
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia): depression that persists for approximately two years
- Postpartum Depression: severe depression after delivering a baby
- Psychotic Depression: depression that includes psychosis (delusions, hallucinations)
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: depression that occurs in the winter but passes during the spring and summer
Confusing Clinical Depression with Other Disorders
Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is not the same as clinical depression, though they are sometimes confused. Those with bipolar disorder experience periods of severe depressive moods that may be misdiagnosed for clinical depression. The difference between the two is that those with bipolar experience depression in addition to periods of mania. It is a combination of severely elevated and depressed moods. Depression doesn’t include such periods of extreme highs.
Another type of depression often confused with clinical depression is called situational depression. Situational depression is unlike clinical depression. It is a response to stressful life events (i.e., death in the family, a fire that destroyed your home, loss of a beloved pet). As its name describes, it is situational. The symptoms are quite like that of clinical depression, including self-isolation, frequent crying and anxiety, and feeling very sad. However, these symptoms tend not to be as severe, and treatment may look very different. For example, utilizing a toolbox of coping mechanisms may help manage the stress and anxiety that triggers situational depression, such as slow, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation.
Mood Disorders and Self-Medication: Watch Out!
It may be hard for those suffering from depression to resist the temporary relief alcohol, and drugs can provide. Research suggests that those with depression may be motivated to drink to cope with symptoms. But remember, it is only temporary and will likely aggravate your symptoms and trigger others like anxiety. The same research also demonstrates that frequent drinking may promote depression. Regular use of drugs like marijuana and methamphetamine may even trigger psychotic reactions.
This combination of substance use and mental health disorders can make those already hard-to-do activities even harder, thus, risking relationships, work performance, and other essential daily life components. In the U.S., this dangerous mix is typical; they are among the top conditions that lead to disability. Treating mental health alongside substance use disorders can be crucial to an effective and wholesome recovery.
Treating clinical depression can be somewhat of a trial-and-error activity. Those who have depression may experience it differently than the next person, and so it may take some time and patience to figure out what works just right for you. If you’ve made it this far, it probably means you want something in your life to change. There are various medications, therapies, techniques, and lifestyle adjustments that you can make that will improve your daily struggle with depression. There are also dedicated facilities that offer affordable programs to assist you on your journey. Don’t give up – you’ve already made the first step to managing your condition. That deserves a round of applause.
With about 7.1% of the adult population suffering, daily life with depression is no joke. This severe mood disorder seems to infiltrate and disrupt every sphere of life, stemming from relationships, success in your career, and other essential and intimate spaces. It’s not easy; we understand. Substance use might be enticing as you attempt to make the days more bearable. But beware: a cocktail of drugs, alcohol, and mental illness do not mix! Your condition may worsen, and the development of other debilitating disorders is possible and even likely. This can make diagnosis and treatment tricky. The quality of your life matters. Your capacity to live a good one matters. It’s worth every second of effort. That’s why at Oceanfront Recovery, we offer treatment programs that address mental health and addiction. Our programs are tailored to your specific needs to ensure that your treatment is effective and successful. We are here for you. Call us today to find out more at (877) 279-1777.