As estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one hundred and twenty million (120,000,000) people worldwide are currently experiencing some form of depression. In the United States, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that one (1) out of ten (10) Americans age 18 and older are adversely affected by depression. In raw numbers, this equates to roughly fifteen million (15) American adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), further postulates that the leading cause of disability for Americans age 15 to 44 is depression. As evidenced by the above statistics, depression is exceedingly common, frequently debilitating, and a significant mental health issue. In fact, depression is among the most prevalent mental health disorders diagnosed by health care practitioners, in the United States.
What Exactly is Clinical Depression?
As defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), clinical depression is a condition that causes a person to feel deeply sad, or absent of feeling. The duration of such feelings, occur most of the day, nearly every day, for at least fourteen (14) days. If you have been experiencing some of the following symptoms, as outlined below, most of the day, for at least fourteen (14) days, you may be experiencing clinical depression:
- Depressed mood or sadness
- Loss of interest of pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Change in appetite, weight gain, or weight loss
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Sudden loss of energy
- Feeling guilty, worthless or hopeless
- Withdrawn from friends and/or family
- Lack of Motivation
- Neglect of appearance and/or hygiene
- Thought of death or suicide
What Should I Do If I Exhibit Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression?
If you or a love one are experiencing signs and symptoms of clinical depression, rest assured you are not alone and help is available. First, make an appointment to see your doctor. It is important to make sure that the signs and symptoms that you are currently experiencing are not related to an existing medical condition, or an adverse reaction to a prescribed medication. After you see your doctor, your next step should be to explore and secure the services of a licensed mental health provider. The mental health provider may be a licensed clinical social worker, licensed psychologist, licensed professional counselor, or another type of licensed professional. Most importantly, the professional that you select should be compassionate, non-judgmental and skilled in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions, such as clinical depression. Also, please remember to curb that urge to isolate and withdraw from family and friends. It is important to believe and feel that you are not alone, loved and accepted, as you implement the necessary steps to successfully defeat this vast and common condition.
Mark A. Boothe, LICSW, LCSW, SAP
Mark is a psychotherapist and substance abuse professional at Life Enrichment Counseling Center. He provides counseling services to adolescents, adults and families in Alexandria, VA and Washington, DC.