Clinical depression is a severe and long-lasting mood disorder. It is typically characterized by overwhelming feelings of hopelessness or despair and disinterest in hobbies or relationships that used to bring joy. Some people also feel increasingly irritable or angry when depressed, while others describe it as feeling "empty." 

Depression can manifest into physical symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and general malaise. People experiencing clinical depression also tend to suffer from poor decision-making skills and concentration. 

Clinical Depression Is Different From Situational Depression

It's important to note that everyone can feel a little down from time to time, and this sadness doesn't necessarily point to an underlying mood disorder like clinical depression. It's normal for gloomy feelings, poor concentration, and fatigue to occur in association with a sad event, like a death in the family. 

People who don't have a mood disorder will feel better without help from a behavioral health team. Those with clinical depression, however, will continue to feel hopeless and lost on a daily or near-daily basis for at least two weeks. These long-lasting symptoms signal the need for a treatment plan.

Clinical depression is a catch-all term with numerous sub-categories, including:

  • Postpartum Depression: Experienced by mothers after birth

  • Manic Depression or Bipolar Disorder: Defined as cycles of depression and mania, not solely depression

  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: When depression occurs regularly in conjunction with a woman's menstrual cycle

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Experienced in winter due to lower levels of sunlight

Depression Feels Like It Takes Over Your Life

Difficulty performing at work, maintaining personal hygiene, and doing daily tasks like cleaning the house or paying bills are signs that an individual could benefit from depression treatment. Someone experiencing depression might also isolate themselves socially, leading to strained relationships with friends and family. 

In short, depression can affect not only every aspect of life but also rob people of the ability to hope for a better one or dream about the future. 

How Depression Relates to Addiction

Some of the symptoms and effects of depression overlap with those of addiction. Both conditions can result in social isolation, lack of personal hygiene, poor performance at work, strained relationships, and a tendency to avoid admitting that there's a problem. 

In some cases, depression can cause an individual to self medicate with drugs or alcohol to experience relief from their symptoms. Even if depression and addiction manifest independently, each one tends to exacerbate the other, resulting in a cycle that's difficult to escape from without a treatment plan.

You Can Feel Better, But You Need a Team

A wide range of symptoms are associated with depression, and every one is unique in how a person experiences this mood disorder. It's essential to seek the opinion of a professional if you just don't feel like yourself to rule out another condition altogether, such as a thyroid problem or a nutritional deficiency. 

If you feel depressed, know that you are not the only one. The Confidant behavioral health team can support you and help you feel better by providing therapy and medication.