Clinical Depression What you need to know

Life is full of good times and bad, of happiness and sorrow. But when you are feeling "down" for more than a few weeks or you have difficulty functioning in daily life, you may be suffering from a common, yet serious medical illness - called clinical depression.

You are not alone

Every year more than 19 million American Adults suffer from clinical depression. Young or old, man or woman, regardless of race or income - anyone can experience clinical depression. Depression can cause people to lose the pleasure from daily life. It can complicate other medical conditions - it can be serious enough to lead to suicide. Yet this suffering is unnecessary. Clinical depression is a very treatable medical illness. So why don't many people seek the help they need? Clinical depression often goes untreated because people don't recognize the many symptoms. They may know some symptoms, such as sadness and withdrawal, but they are unaware of others, including anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness. Some incorrectly believe that only people whose depression lasts for months, or who have completely lost their ability to function, have "real" - or "clinical" - depression. Many people even wrongly think that depression is "normal" for older people, young adults, new mothers, menopausal women, or those with a chronic illness. The truth is, clinical depression is never "normal," no matter what your age or life situation. Also, people need to know that treatment for clinical depression really works - and to learn how to go about finding the treatment they need.

Depression is not Grief

It is normal to feel sadness after the death of a friend or family member. Indeed, most of us experience great sadness at times in our lives, perhaps from a divorce, moving away from family and friends, losing a job, even losing our good health due to illness. But, most people cope with these losses without becoming clinically depressed. If the sadness or depressed mood continues for a long period of time, the person may be experiencing clinical depression, and should seek professional help.
Clinical Depression can be Successfully Treated
Clinical depression is one of the most treatable of all medical illnesses. In fact, more than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Only a qualified health professional can determine if someone has clinical depression. But knowing the symptoms of clinical depression can help you as you talk with your health professional.

As with many illnesses, if treatment if needed, the earlier it begins, the more effective it can be. And, early treatment increases the likelihood of preventing serious recurrences.

You Do Not Have to Cope with Clinical Depression on Your Own
Some people are embarrassed to get help for depression, or they are reluctant to talk about how they are feeling. Others believe that depression will go away on its own. You can't just "Tough it out!" Help is available.

Talking to friends, family members and clergy can often give people the support needed when going through life's difficult times. For those with clinical depression such support is important, but it is not a substitute for the care of a health professional. Remember, clinical depression is a serious illness that you do not have to treat on your own.

You May Need to Help Your Loved One

People with clinical depression often do not have the motivation or energy to seek treatment. This means that it is very important that friends and family help. The best way to express concern when someone is depressed is by helping the depressed person seek treatment. Depression can even cause confusion and withdrawal. Therefore, it may be helpful for family or friends to accompany the depressed person to the initial health professional's evaluation, to ask questions and note instructions.