Futures Recovery Healthcare

Understanding Major Depressive Disorders [Clinical Depression]



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Feeling sad or anxious from time to time is normal, however, when these feelings persist or are so intense that daily functioning becomes impaired it may indicate a depressive disorder. Depression is a type of mood disorder that could negatively impact your quality of life. Without the effective management of depression, individuals will struggle with their day-to-day functioning. As a result, it’s important to seek help from mental health professionals.

If you believe that you or someone you love is living with some type of depression, there is help and hope. Depression, no matter which type you may have, is a treatable disorder. Many who have spent weeks, months, and years living in the grips of depression have found the help they need to manage this often difficult mood disorder.

The term ‘depression’ is used to define a number of conditions. And, when it comes to depression, there are different types. A simple Google search for ‘what is depression’ reveals results that say, ‘nine types of depression’, ‘ten types of depression’, and ‘six types of depression’. This article will briefly discuss some of the most common types of depression but focus on what’s referred to as ‘clinical depression.’ Clinical depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder, is a more severe form of depression. People with this form of depression experience more symptoms at a higher level of intensity than those with minor depressive disorder, which is also known as “everyday depression.”

No matter what type of depression and depressive symptoms you or a loved one may be experiencing, the persistent feelings of sadness can affect how you think, feel, and act. Left untreated, any type of depression can be serious.

Five Main Types of Clinical Depression

The National Institutes on Mental Health (NIMH), state that there are five main types of clinical depression or major depressive disorder. These are as follows:

  1. Persistent depressive disorder
    For individuals with persistent depressive disorder (also referred to as dysthymia), depressive symptoms must be present for at least two years. Symptoms may include periods of long and severe depression as well as times with less severe depression. The key to this diagnosis is the duration of the depressed mood.
  2. Postpartum depression
    This type of severe depression lasts beyond the typical few weeks after childbirth. While it is normal to have a week or two of anxiety and the ‘blues’ after having a baby, postpartum depression lasts far beyond those weeks and can impair a new mother’s ability to engage in daily activities and family life.
  3. Psychotic depression
    Psychotic depression is a subtype of major depression that involves symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations, delusions, and other breaks with reality. The usual symptoms of depression plus psychotic symptoms characterize this type.
  4. Seasonal affective disorder
    Seasonal affective disorder or SAD coincides with the onset of the winter. During this time of year there is less natural light and those who have SAD become sad and withdrawn this time of year. With this type of depressive disorder, the sadness lifts in the spring and summer but returns each fall and winter season.
  5. Bipolar disorder
    Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mood disorder and mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depressed mood). While major depression is characterized by a persistent low mood and a loss of interest in social activities, bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs and lows.

Whether you fall into one of these groups or have the traditional clinical depression or major depression, it’s important to know you aren’t alone. Depression can be one of the most isolating disorders. However, if you or a loved one is living in the grips of depression, remember there is help and you too can live a happy, content life once again.

Futures Recovery Healthcare is devoted to helping the community find the help and treatment they need for not only substance use disorders but also mental health disorders, including clinical depression.

Depression is the most prevalent mental health condition in the U.S. It impacts millions of adults, adolescents, and children across our nation. According to NIMH, in 2017 17.3 million American adults had a major depressive disorder. This mood disorder which impacts more women than men also was reported in 1.9 million children aged 3 to 17 years of age in the United States.

The good news is depression can be treated. With so many in our nation suffering, finding the right treatment to combat this mental health condition is needed now more than ever. As Futures continues to look for new ways to meet the needs of those in our nation who are suffering, we have proudly added a unit solely devoted to mental health treatment including depression.

While many who don’t have depression or have never experienced clinical depression may tell those suffering to ‘snap out of it’ or to ‘feel better’ or to ‘smile more’, clinical depression simply doesn’t work that way. However with effective treatment such as psychotherapy and sometimes medication, most people do recover from depression—of all types.

Often when someone is first experiencing clinical depression, they wonder when they’ll begin to feel better and whether or not they actually have a type of depressive disorder. Knowing the symptoms is an important place to start.

Symptoms of Depression

While physical symptoms can look somewhat different from one person to the next, overall, clinical depression can be characterized by its ability to impede day-to-day activities. Here are some of the most common depression symptoms seen in clinical depression. Keep in mind, these symptoms need to be present most days for at least two weeks to be considered a type of clinical depression.

  • Feelings of sadness, loneliness, or emptiness
  • Losing interest in activities and hobbies
  • Changes in sleep patterns such as sleeping too much or having insomnia
  • Decreased appetite leading to weight loss at times
  • Increased appetite leading to weight gain at times
  • Getting angry, irritable, and restless with situations that normally wouldn’t upset you
  • Experiencing anxiety
  • Having problems or difficulty thinking or concentrating
  • Moving or thinking slowly
  • Losing energy or experiencing fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or self-loathing
  • Thinking about death or suicide

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these depression symptoms and it has been longer than two weeks, you may be suffering from a type of clinical depression or major depressive disorder. For some, this may only occur once in a lifetime, for others, there are recurrent bouts of depression.

It’s important to note that both children and the elderly with depression may exhibit somewhat different symptoms and signs. For children, signs are similar but may also include, clinginess, aches and pains, refusal to attend school, and overall sadness

For the older adults depression can be harder to identify and they may be very reluctant to talk about it or seek help. Signs of depression in older adults may include memory issues, loss of interest in activities and staying home more often, aches and pains, loss of appetite and weight loss as well as suicidal ideations, particularly in older men.

No matter which situation is true for you, there is help and you can live a happy life again. Although it may not seem like that now. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, 80% of those treated for depression show significant improvement within just four to six weeks of beginning treatment.


Treatment for depression will be somewhat different for each individual. Depending on several factors including the type of depression, possible causes, any medical problems, and associated issues, such as substance or alcohol use disorder, the course of treatment and timeline for symptom relief will vary.

However, for most, treatment will involve psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Some people are leary of taking medication for depression. It’s important to understand that in many instances the medication is not a long term solution or plan. This too depends on each person’s unique situation.

Even the most severe cases of depression can be effectively treated. The sooner help is received the better. The first step in the process is to obtain a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. During this assessment, any physical ailments like thyroid disease should be ruled out. Following this, an individualized treatment plan should be created.

Psychotherapy Treatments

One of the major components in the treatment of depression is therapy or counseling. Usually a type of ‘talk therapy’, psychotherapy can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), family-focused therapy, and problem-solving therapy. During these sessions, individuals meet with their therapist to discuss trouble-some events, thoughts, or patterns. Together with their trusted therapist new skills are learned and more healthy ways of handling stress and depression are created.

Medications for Depression

Today, there are a number of antidepressant medications that can be useful in treating depression. These medications are not habit forming and work to help balance brain chemicals possibly contributing to, or in some cases, causing the depression. Medications impact people differently so it’s vital that any medication be monitored by a licensed professional such as a prescribing psychiatrist.

When it comes to medications for depression, it generally takes two to four weeks to begin to see some relief from the symptoms of depression. However, some individuals may find relief in the first week while others may not experience relief until a month or two after beginning the medications. It is not uncommon to start on one antidepressant and after finding it isn’t working as hoped to switch to another medication. This is one of the reasons it is so vital to have a licensed, experienced, and caring professional overseeing the medications and also be in some type of psychotherapy.

One of the associated risk factors for having depression is family history. Another approach used by prescribing physicians or psychiatrists is to prescribe an antidepressant medication that a family member found to be helpful.

Risk Factors for Developing Depression

Family history of depression is just one of the factors contributing to an increased chance of developing some type of depression. Research has found that a combination of the following contribute to depression:

  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Environment
  • Psychological factors

A medical diagnosis of an accompanying disease or problem also play a role in an individual developing depression. Diagnosis of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, etc. can worsen already present depression or be the catalyst that begins a person’s depression. Life traumas also play a role in the development of depression.

What’s more, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2018, 21% of people with a substance use disorder also had a major depressive episode within that same year.

No matter the severity of depression, the cause, how long you or a loved one has been suffering, or what you’ve tried to ‘feel better’, there is help for anyone living with depression. As mentioned, the sooner you seek treatments for depression, the better. Depression, according to a White House report, is the cause of more than two thirds of the 30,000 suicides in the United States each year.

If you or someone you love is living with any type of depression, help is just a call away. Futures Recovery Healthcare is here to help you or your loved one begin your journey of healing from depression and improve your quality of life. Call us at 866-804-2098 today.


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