People of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life have felt depressed and unhappy at some time in their lives. These periods of sadness usually pass after a short time, but for some people, this feeling can remain for weeks, months, and even years. (1) This prolonged state of unhappiness is called major (or clinical) depression and is characterized by a persistent sad or "empty" mood, loss of interest in favorite activities, difficulty concentrating, and many other symptoms. It is not simply a mental state but an illness that interferes with the way people feel, function, and think.(2)
What are the symptoms of Clinical Depression?
The American Psychiatric Association considers people to have clinical depression if they exhibit at least five of the following symptoms almost every day for two weeks, and must show at least one of the first two criteria:
- depressed or sad mood most of the day
- markedly diminished interest or pleasure in daily activities
- substantial increase or decrease in appetite
- insomnia or excessive sleeping
- restlessness or slowness of movement
- fatigue or loss of energy
- feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- difficulty concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms must cause significant impairment of a person's ability to carry on with daily activities. Also, side affects of medication, drug abuse, a medical condition (thyroid abnormalities, for example), or bereavement, should be ruled out first. (3) A definite diagnosis of depression, however, requires an evaluation by a mental health specialist.
What causes Clinical Depression?
There has been deba...
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...tivity in the workplace. (3) Clinical depression affects everyone, not only those who are ill.
Text: Rosenzweig, Leiman, and Breedlove. 2nd Edition. Biological Psychology: An Introduction to Behavioral, Cognitive, and Clinical Neuroscience. Sinauer Associates, Massachusetts, 1999.
1) Text: Rosenzweig, Leiman, and Breedlove. 2nd Edition. Biological Psychology: An Introduction to Behavioral, Cognitive, and Clinical Neuroscience. Sinauer Associates, Massachusetts, 1999.
2) Dr. Ivan's Depression Central
3)Scientific American Article: "The Neurobiology of Depression"
4)A Depression Web Site
5)More Information on Depression
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