More than 19 million Americans suffer from clinical depression every year, and it can affect anyone regardless of their age, race, gender, income, or physical health.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that ongoing or severe depression causes people a large amount of pain and suffering – and can even lead to suicide if left unaddressed – clinical depression often goes unrecognized and untreated. Yet this suffering is unnecessary.
What Is Clinical Depression?
Life is full of ups and downs, good times and bad. However, if you find yourself feeling “down” for more than a couple of weeks, or if you have difficulty functioning in daily life, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
Clinical depression is not simply feeling depressed or sad for a few days and then feeling better. Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, think, and behave for long stretches of time.
It is not uncommon for people suffering from clinical depression to:
- Lose interest in activities they once found enjoyable
- Feel hopelessness or despair
- Experience drastic changes in eating habits
- Find themselves unable to concentrate
- No longer want to interact with people they used to enjoy being with
- Feel they “just aren’t themselves” anymore
Why Do So Many Suffer from Depression?
Clinical depression is a treatable illness. So why don’t more people get the treatment they need?
Depression often goes untreated because people don’t recognize the nature of the symptoms they’re experiencing.
Some people incorrectly believe that only those who’ve been depressed for months on end or those who’ve completely lost their ability to function are suffering from clinical depression.
Others believe that depression is “normal” for older adults, new mothers, teenagers, those suffering from chronic illness or physical disabilities, and other such categories.
However, clinical depression is never normal, regardless of one’s age, gender, or life situation.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the symptoms of depression and overcome the illness.
Successfully Treating Clinical Depression
Clinical depression is one of the most treatable of all psychological illnesses. In fact, more than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with psychotherapy, prescription medications, or a combination of the two.
Unfortunately, people often try to resolve their depression by themselves. While this may work for some, it’s rarely enough.
If feelings of depression or sadness are seriously affecting your life, if you find yourself experiencing any symptoms of depression, or if you have questions about how you’re feeling and whether or not you’re actually dealing with depression, you should locate a qualified professional to discuss your concerns.
Only qualified mental health professionals (such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists) can determine if you or someone you know is suffering from clinical depression.
Getting the Treatment You Need
If you or someone you know is concerned about their feelings or believes they may be suffering from depression, professional counseling or psychotherapy is often the best place to start looking for help.
While talking to friends and family may be helpful, only a trained mental health professional can provide the objective perspective and clinical resources you need to understand the difficulties you’re facing and the steps necessary to overcome them.
Antidepressants can also be beneficial, especially for people who’re experiencing severe depression. While antidepressants should not be considered a substitute for effective therapy, they can help get you back on track more quickly and help you function and fulfill your day-to-day responsibilities.
Taken together, antidepressants and psychotherapy can help you relieve the symptoms of depression and understand the underlying reasons for your depression and develop strategies to prevent future recurrences.
If you believe you’re depressed, there’s no need to feel alone or embarrassed about discussing your feelings with a professional who can help. Clinical depression won’t just go away on its own. Fortunately, help is available and the sooner you seek help the better your chances for a fast and effective recovery.
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