Major depression, also referred to as clinical depression, is the severest form of depression. Sufferers experience a constant state of hopelessness and despair. The symptoms are far more severe that those experienced by people suffering from chronic depression. They very often have significant difficulty sleeping, eating, working, and even enjoying the company of their family and friends. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that as much as 6-7 percent of the population is affected by major depression at least once in their lifetime, sometimes on multiple occasions.
Anyone can be at risk to develop major depression. It indiscriminately affects, young and old, male and female. Women do have over twice the risk of developing major depression as men do, based upon figures related to those seeking treatment. It is believed that this is due to the frequently fluctuating hormone levels that women typically start experiencing with the onset of puberty. For all demographic groups, various types of environmental and life stresses can be major contributors to depression.
Depression in men is hugely under-reported. Men have a tendency to down-play the intensity of the emotions that they are feeling. They often are reluctant to seek medical help because they fear that they will be judged as being weak. Due to the fact that women are far more likely to seek help, it is possible that the frequency of depression between the two sexes may not be as great as believed.
There are many signs of major depression that we should be aware of. Not all of the signs will necessarily be present in every individual, but they may include irritability, anger, drug or alcohol abuse as an attempt to self-medicate, and violent behavior. It often also results in suicidal and homicidal tendencies, and an increase in illnesses.
Major depression can be triggered by many things. Losing a loved one through death or divorce is one of the leading causes. It can also be caused by feelings of social isolation or depravity, major life changes, relationship conflicts, and sexual, emotional, or physical abuse.
Major depression is usually diagnosed by a health care provider after examining the individual's symptoms, and personal and family history of emotional disorders. There is no test that can be run to determine if a person is suffering from depression, or if the symptoms are caused by another malady, such as hypothyroidism. Doctors will frequently order a blood test to rule out other causes. They will also make an assessment of the medications that the individual is using, and possibly adjust dosage or prescribe alternative medicines because it has been shown that certain types of medications do cause depressed feelings in people.
Treatment is possible, unfortunately as many as two-thirds of the people that are diagnosed with any form of depression each year do not seek further treatment for various reasons. Surveys of patients have shown that 80% of treated patients report significant improvement in their quality of life. If you or a loved one displays symptoms of any type of depression, please seek help right away. Studies have shown that the sooner one begins treatment, the more effective and successful the treatment will be.