12 Clinical Depression Symptoms and Psychological Signs: Learn When and How to Act


Clinical depression symptoms are not reserved for any group in particular. You see, people of all ages can experience clinical depression symptoms for reasons encompassing a variety of conditions:

– Depression may hit you as a result of something external happening outside yourself – some sort of traumatic life event.

– Or depression may also come sneaking up from the inside as a result of e.g. chronic illness.

Whatever the cause of depression, persistent depression is an overwhelming and debilitating disorder causing those afflicted to feel hopeless, sad, fatigued and sometimes unable to even get out of bed and participate in routine daily activities: “Nothing seems worth anything, and I don’t care!”

In addition to various psychological symptoms depression also produces disturbing physical conditions, or physical symptoms of depression that only serve to amplify existing feelings of despondency.

So Yes, Experiencing Clinical Depression Symptoms Is Serious – But Help Is Available

Because of the intense interaction occurring between intrusive negative thoughts and various physical problems with which to cope, individuals suffering from clinical depression symptoms may not be able to help themselves. They need to be helped in order to regain their lust for living and control over their lives.

But fortunately help is available in terms of various counseling services, depression treatment centers and medication.

12 Psychological Depression Signs

Although depressive behaviors vary among individuals, many are fundamental to the presence of clinical depression.

These 12 signs of depression may include:

Prolonged feelings of sadness and lack of energy can be signs of depression: Photo of a young woman looking sad

  • Feeling hopeless about the future and helpless to change existing conditions
  • Extreme pessimism bordering on being irrational
  • Having no interest in doing things that were once enjoyable
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Losing or gaining considerable weight due to overeating or eating very little
  • Suffering from insomnia or hyposomnia
  • Feeling angry and irritable for no reason
  • Overwhelming lack of energy – severely depressed people may not get out of bed for days at a time
  • Feeling guilty, worthless and constantly criticizing yourself and others
  • Indulging in escapist behavior – addictions or participating in dangerous activities
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or memorize information
  • Incapable of making simple decisions without agonizing over them

Clinical Depression Symptoms Are Very Different from Person to Person

The severity of these clinical depression symptoms vary greatly among people suffering from depression. Some may experience more hypochondria than others do, with physical ailments taking precedent over emotional issues.

Others may be predominantly preoccupied with emotional difficulties.

If You Show 5 Clinical Depression Symptoms for More than Two Weeks, a Diagnosis May Be Made

Diagnoses are made when a patient exhibits or complains of at least five of the symptoms described for more than two weeks.

A depression scale assists the psychologist in determining whether someone is clinically depressed.

A popular scale is the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, a multiple-choice questionnaire designed to assess the degree of a patient’s symptoms in order to address the client’s issues successfully by implementing specific counseling techniques.

Biological Causes of Depression: Production Imbalances in the Chemical Factory of the Brain

Neurotransmitters in our brain determine our mood and are closely related to clinical depression symptomsAdvances in neuroscience in the past 30 years reveal a definite biological component to experiencing clinical depression symptoms.

Researchers have discovered that levels of three major transmitters produced in the brain:

– serotonin
– norepinephrine
– dopamine

… fundamentally mobilize our emotions, moods, responses to stress and thought processes, causing extreme highs and extreme lows during periods of inconsistency.

This is why antidepressant medication is often effective in “resetting” levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain and allowing people to feel normal again.

The Chicken or the Egg?
However, scientists investigating the role of chemical imbalances in the brain and its correlation with atypical behavior are still not sure exactly how this relationship is achieved – do sad, hopeless feelings occur first which alter brain chemistry or do initial, unstable levels of these neurotransmitters produce depression symptoms?

More research is necessary into the glandular endocrine system and the hormones they produce, as to whether these chemicals create clinical depression by simultaneously interacting in the brain.

Why Women often Respond Better to Medication than Men

Women respond better to depression meds than men: Picture of woman taking a pillOne thing that doctors and psychologists do concur on is the fact that women are more susceptible to the hormonally-based clinical depression symptoms than men due to pregnancy, menstruation and menopause, all of which are induced by strong hormones being released into the bloodstream at certain times in a woman’s life.

This is why men who suffer from depression may not respond to medication as well as women because male depression usually has more on external causes rather than biological causes.

Depression and Suicide Signs to Be Aware of

Picture of a young woman deep in melancholy by Constant MayerDepression signs of someone thinking about suicide may be hard to detect because it is difficult for friends or family members to believe that someone they know and love is actually thinking about ending their own lives.

Frequently, individuals experiencing severe depression symptoms are reluctant to discuss such aberrant feelings for fear of being labeled “crazy” and forced into hospital psychiatric wards for observation against their will.

However, when someone suffers from depression for longer than two or three weeks and exhibits certain warning signs indicating they may be thinking about suicide, some kind of aggressive intervention should take place, with hospitalization being a viable alternative if necessary.

Indicators that someone may be considering suicide include:

  • Obsession or preoccupation with death, dying, funerals, etc
  • Telling others they want to die, that life is no longer worth the effort
  • Constantly talking about feeling useless, hopeless, worthless or “trapped”
  • Presenting behaviors that seem inappropriate in comparison to recent depressive state (i.e. suddenly appearing calm, happier or less troubled)
  • Giving away property to family or friends
  • Telling everyone that “the world would be better off without me” or “no one would miss me if I suddenly disappeared”

Individuals exhibiting only one of these behaviors should be considered at risk for suicide or attempting suicide with the intent of being found in time.

Immediate intervention is necessary to prevent such a tragedy from occurring.

Environmental Causes of Depression: Depression Triggered by External Events

External symptoms like a broken heart can lead to clinical depression symptoms showingSocial and cultural causes of depression are environmental or external reasons for those suffering from clinical depression symptoms.

Life events such as divorce, death of a family member or close friend, job loss, physical or emotional abuse and poverty can all generate periodic bouts of depression in people experiencing such overwhelming chaos in their lives.

Frequently, this kind of depression is temporary and ceases once the person comes to terms with the problem and learns how to cope with it.

However, chronic stress is all-too-often an ongoing occurrence, unrelenting in its destructiveness to the emotional and physical well-being of many people.

When ‘Normal’ Depression Turns into Chronic Depression

Unfortunately, many situational depression episodes eventually develop into chronic depression from which individuals find it difficult to escape.

Treatment is necessary in this case, consisting of psychotherapy techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy or rational-emotive therapy.

Psychologists and counselors will perform initial assessments of individuals needing help in order to determine which therapy may be best suited to alleviate their problems.

The goal of counseling people experiencing clinical depression symptoms is to teach them how negative thoughts influence the way they feel and also how these self-defeating thoughts distort the way they perceive the world around them.

Patients learn coping mechanisms to manage repressed anger and anxiety as well as effective communication methods to improve or resist dysfunctional relationships in which they may be involved.

If You Feel Like Taking a Depression Self Test, That Alone Indicates That You Might Suffer From Some Level of Depression

Many different kinds of depression self-tests exist on the internet involving questions regarding length, severity and descriptions of specific depression symptoms. Individuals taking such tests should be aware that they are not cumulative or qualified and do not substitute for a professional diagnosis of clinical depression.

If someone feels compelled enough to take one of these self-tests, then they in all likelihood already suspect they are suffering from some degree of depression.

However, taking a depression self test may provide insight into depression symptoms and encourage someone to seek help for their difficulties.

Examples of questions comprising a depression self-test include:

Taking a depression self test is only first step, next step is to see a doctor: Picture of a crayon

  • Do you feel vulnerable and alone most of the time?
  • Does the future seem unimportant and meaningless to you?
  • Have you lost interest in hobbies or activities that once gave you pleasure and made you feel happy?
  • Do people ever tell you that you are too hard on yourself?
  • Do you feel angry for no reason and terribly sad the next?

Remember that to be considered clinically depressed, you need to consistently experience clinical depression symptoms.

Most of us feel down occasionally but this is due to normal daily stresses and occurrences we tend to immediately cope with and forget.

People who suffer from depression endure waking up day after day to the same, unrelenting feelings of sadness, hopelessness and often – physical pain that does not go away.

Treatment Options for Severe Depression: When Counseling and Medication Don’t Work

Occasionally, neither medication nor counseling helps someone control clinical depression symptoms.

Individuals suffering from severe chronic depression have usually attempted suicide several times and are so incapacitated they are unable to take care of themselves.

Electroconvulsive Therapy – ECT
For these people, electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is the last resort, which involves an extended stay in a psychiatric care unit or institution.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)
Another type of ECT is currently referred to as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), a procedure that transmits magnetic field impulses into the brain, specifically the dorsolateral prefrontal cerebral cortex where higher thought processes generate and are regulated.

As a treatment for depression, rTMS has had positive results with patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder for years.

Psychiatrists typically perform the procedure in the office, with a four to six week period of treatments required to treat depression symptoms effectively. The benefits of this new treatment include:

  • Absence of systemic side effects (weight gain, dry mouth, nausea)
  • No deficits in memory or concentration
  • No incidences of seizures
  • No drug interaction

Getting help for clinical depression symptoms is vital to recovering the energy and positive attitude necessary for experiencing a full and happy life that is, for the most part, free of debilitating feelings of sadness, guilt, hopelessness and futility.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression symptoms, contact your local health department to find out what options are available regarding depression help.

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