Depression: A Clinical Definition

To have a better understanding of depression, you need to understand the medical definition as well as how it relates to a depressed person.

Depression, as defined by Mayo Clinic, “is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depression, major depression disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and believe and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.”₁

While this is the definition Mayo Clinic, NAMI₂ and various other institutions use to describe depression; the easiest and most forthright definition is that depression is a disease.

Let me repeat that.

Depression is a disease.

And like many diseases, depression can be fatal. Of course, it doesn’t have to be. With proper treatment, depression can be managed. Many depressives may only experience one episode or can even go into remission.

The best way to recognize depression in a person, or in yourself, is to know the symptoms.

Depression signs and symptoms vary from person to person, but they can include:

  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

The thing to remember, is that everyone is different and each person experiences depression in their own way. My next post, will be about my beginnings with depression. It is important to differentiate between the clinical definition of depressive and the life a depressive person, lives. Although the definition explains the symptoms, depression is a complicated disease that is caused by genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors.

I’m hoping this clinical definition will give you a better understanding of depression as I take you through my life as a mentally ill, depressed person.

For more information view this video on The Science of Depression.

  1. Mayo Clinic
  2. NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Health
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