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What Causes Clinical Depression?

Updated on January 3, 2016

Had Little Knowledge

For many years physicians had little knowledge about what caused depression. The common belief was a person’s environment was a major factor. However, more recent medical discoveries reveal glaring evidence clinical depression is a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. There is enough proof to show depression has a biological component. Depression may be linked to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The current trend of thought focuses on the serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine systems. Antidepressants have become an important tool in treating depression. This implies brain chemistry is involved. There is also data suggesting the condition can be inherited.

However, trying to narrow down which gene is responsible has met with little success, showing mixed results. Over 18 million Americans suffer from depression annually. Surprisingly, only about half seeks treatment. If you believe you may have this disorder it’s important to seek professional help.

Defined As An Illness

Clinical depression is defined as an illness negatively affecting how you feel, think and act. It’s not feeling sad, blue or depressed temporarily. Your body, thoughts and behavior are adversely affected. Your eating and work habits and how you relate to others may significantly change for the worse.

Some sufferers may see the condition as a sign of weakness, therefore refusing to seek help. Unfortunately those with clinical depression can’t simply wish themselves better. They can’t “Pull themselves up by their boot straps”, so to speak. Contemplation of or attempts at suicide is not unheard of.

It Can Affect Anyone

Clinical Depression is no respecter of age, gender or ethnicities. It can affect anyone. Although the condition is common it is quite often unrecognized and thus untreated. Clinical depression has many levels of severity and types. Depending on the individual various treatments may be prescribed. Most seeking help get better, sometimes in just a few weeks.

Several Classifications

Clinical depression can be classified in several different forms. Major Depression is a classification having a combination of symptoms. It may disrupt a person’s ability to work, sleep, eat or enjoy activities they once enjoyed. Episodes can occur several times in a lifetime.

Dysthymia is a lesser type of depression involving long term care. Symptoms may be less severe, but still keep one from functioning normally or feeling good. One other type is commonly termed Bipolar disorder. Some refer to these sufferers as manic-depressive. Bipolar is often characterized by extreme mood swings. Depressive moods can alternate with periods of feelings of elation, exhilaration and intensified activity.

How is clinical depression different from everyday normal stress or feelings of melancholy?
Sadness and depression are normal reactions to intense stress. It’s human to feel down after a major disappointment. It’s also normal to have trouble sleeping or eating after a relationship breakup. These feelings, however, usually disappear within a short time.

Clinical depression is much different.Major changes in body functioning can occur. You may become unable to cope with common everyday situations, experience body pains or stomach trouble. A person with clinical depression might become irritable, consider suicide or become withdrawn refusing to talk to family or friends. Other symptoms could include a persistent sad or empty feeling and crying for no reason or feel hopeless, worthless or guilty.

In conclusion depression is almost always treatable. It’s not necessary to know the cause to get help.


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    • dkanofsky profile image

      dkanofsky 7 years ago from Bethalto, Illinois

      Thank you so much for the informative article. Most of what you write about I have experienced for 51 years. Fortunately I did get the treatment I needed.

      Kindest regards,


    • mudassirikram profile image

      mudassirikram 7 years ago from warburton

      very nice but check this too

    • telltale profile image

      telltale 7 years ago

      Thanks for the hub... at least now, clinical depression has some answers on why this happens. Earlier, I did not understand it when I see some people in depression, I believe you have provided some kind of answers to why. Good Hub! Thanks!

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you Theresa. I decided to write it because I suffered many years with it before I found out why I was so screwed up.

    • Theresa_Kennedy profile image

      Theresa Kennedy 7 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you for taking the time to educate people on this. It can be difficult for friends, family and co-workers to understand exactly how depression may be affecting someone they know. This hub really helps.