Depression Q & A
What is the difference between feeling sad and having clinical depression?
Everyone feels sad or depressed from time to time, usually as the direct result of something that’s going on in their lives. These feelings are completely normal and expected. But people with clinical depression feel sad far more often and for much longer periods of time — and usually not as a direct result of anything that’s happening in their lives. People who have clinical depression often have other feelings and symptoms as well, like:
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Problems concentrating
- Sleep disturbances – either sleeping a lot or very little
- Problems with appetite
Clinical depression takes a significant toll on a person’s quality of life and can interfere with their ability to do well in school or work or to forge and maintain personal relationships.
What risks are associated with clinical depression?
People who have clinical depression have greater risks for many chronic diseases, and they’re also more likely to have drug or alcohol problems. Plus, clinical depression significantly increases the risk of suicide and self-harm.
How is depression diagnosed?
Depression can be diagnosed with a careful review of the patient’s symptoms. In addition, there are published medical guidelines that can aid in the diagnosis of depression and in helping to differentiate it from other emotional and physical issues. In diagnosing depression, the providers at UNPC Family Medicine also will evaluate the extent of the symptoms to determine if they’re severe enough to interfere with the patient’s normal activity at school, work, or in social or family settings.
People with clinical depression often have other issues as well, including anxiety disorders or other emotional or mental health issues. An accurate and comprehensive diagnosis aids in ensuring that treatment is customized for each patient’s specific needs.
How is depression treated?
Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, and treating its symptoms — and preventing them from becoming worse — depends on regular care using medications and sometimes counseling to help address negative thought patterns. Today, there are many medications designed to combat depression and rebalance chemical processes in the brain.
The providers at UNPC Family Medicine are skilled in determining the best medication and optimal dosing based on each patient’s symptoms and medical history. Ongoing office visits help ensure that the treatment remains on track as the patient’s needs change over time.