The Clinical Depression Disorder

Clinical depression is one of many mental disorders affecting 1 in 10 Americans today. This disorder is characterized by ongoing feelings of sadness and despair which lead to anxiety, agitation, feelings of emptiness, and loss of self-worth. Following these initial symptoms are possible weight loss or gain, insomnia, lack of energy, unusual indecisiveness, and even suicidal thoughts or attempts. There are many possible causes of major depression; however, very often the disease strikes without any triggering cause which leads to a great deal of frustration by the affected person and his or her loved ones. Fortunately, scientists have narrowed the list to three major causes: a first depressive episode caused by a traumatic event, a biochemical disorder, or an inherited disorder.

Depression can result from an emotionally or physically stressful incident. This has been termed by psychologists as a first depressive episode. Possible causes include the death of a loved one, an abortion or miscarriage, a move to a new home or job, the end of an important relationship, financial problems, a chronic illness, or any other traumatic event. For many people, these incidents produce a mild to moderate case of the blues. They feel “down” for a while, but they are able to continue functioning and performing everyday tasks. Although these people may experience the chemical imbalance that is the hallmark of depression, the brain abnormality typically corrects itself within a few weeks. However, in some critical cases, the chemical alteration lasts for a much longer time, this is when mild to moderate depression turns into full-blown clinical depression.

The same chemical alteration that can result from first depressive episode, can also be the result of a naturally occurring biochemical disorder. It now appears that depression can be caused by decreased levels of serotonin and norepinephrine.

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