Clinical Depression is a serious condition that affects a number of people. If left untreated, it can have serious consequences, both short-term as well as long-term. These consequences tend to affect every aspect of your life.
Various studies show that a number of people believe that depression is “all in your head” and it can be cured without consulting a physician. Contrary to this common belief, depression is mainly caused due to a disruption of chemicals in the brain, most notably serotonin. People tend to suffer from depression in case their brains do not make enough serotonin or cannot utilize the available serotonin.
As William Styron writes in his book, Darkness Visible, “the word “depression” is a bland clinical label and such a wimp of a word compared to the raging storm inside the victim’s brain. Most of us non-depressives can’t truly know the torment involved; we can’t imagine it any better than a blind person can imagine a Sequoia tree. Major depression is enough to force you to stay in bed, to withdraw from others, to dwell on your misery, and to have very few pleasant thoughts.”
Some of the common symptoms of depression include:
- Constant nagging feeling
- Crying spells
- Problems related to sleep and appetite
- Significant weight loss/gain
- Self-injury/ Self harm
- Reckless behaviour
- sleep that never feels like “enough”
- Poor performance at work
- Relationship problems
- Concentration issues
- Daytime fatigue
- Unexplained memory loss
- Having a ‘death wish’
- Loss of interest in things one used to care about
Clinical depression is usually characterized by a few common traits. Listed below are some of the most common ones:
Chronic Mental Illness
- This condition is characterised by mental pattern that may cause suffering or a poor ability to function in life
- The events like the loss of a loved one or a chemical imbalance in the brain usually result in this type of condition
- In majority of the cases, the medications and psychotherapy does not prove to be effective, and more severe treatment methods is required
- If left untreated, the condition becomes severe and can lead to other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder
- Clinical depression if left untreated eventually results in social withdrawal of the person
- With the chemical Serotonin being out of balance in the brain, people suffering from depression stop participating in activities that they used to enjoy
- The condition is usually characterized by the feeling that ‘nothing in the world can make me happy’
- People with this condition prefer staying in bed all day, missing days or even weeks of work, and avoid family get-togethers. One of the most common symptoms is that the people start even start ignoring phone calls and emails from friends and loved ones
- Medical studies show that majority of the people with anxiety or mood disorder, such as depression, tend to have a substance abuse disorder. Likewise, the people with a substance abuse problem also have an anxiety or mood disorder
- As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Compared with the general population, people addicted to drugs are roughly twice as likely to have mood and anxiety disorders, and vice versa”
- Substance abuse disorder mainly occurs as the people suffering from clinical depression feel that the disease does not need to be treated by a physician. This is one of the major reasons why they turn to substance abuse to relieve their symptoms
- It is one of the most severe conditions associated with depression as it results in various health hazards. It can lead to liver damage, kidney failure and death by accidental overdose
- As a matter of fact, the imbalance in serotonin levels in the brain has a major impact on other brain chemicals and metabolites as well, which in turn affects the central nervous system’s ability to function properly
- As a result, there occurs a disruption in the body’s natural “fight or flight” response, and the central nervous system randomly goes into “fight or flight” mode and releases extra adrenaline, which results in irreversible damage to the cardiovascular system
- As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people suffering from chronic, untreated depression are likely to die up to 25 years earlier than the average lifespan.
- This majorly occurs due to the chemical changes taking place in the brains of people suffering from depression.
Keeping in mind the severity of symptoms associated with clinical depression, it becomes important to ensure timely treatment.