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