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Essential Facts about Clinical Depression

written by: Alicia Miller • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/18/2011

Clinical depression is not just feeling occasionally sad or down in the dumps. It is a serious mental illness that can severely impact your overall mental and physical health and quality of life. In this article, you'll learn about some of the most interesting facts about clinical depression.

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    Types of Depression

    There are several types of clinical depressive disorders, including major depression, atypical depression, dysthymic disorder, postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder.

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    Facts about Depression: Symptoms

    Depression affects those who suffer from it in different ways, but there are some symptoms that tend to occur across the board in depressive disorders. The main features include feelings of hopelessness, intense sadness and worthlessness, a change in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue and a lack of energy, and difficulties with work and personal relationships.

    Interestingly, people suffering from most types of depressive disorders tend to experience a decrease in appetite, but in atypical depression, appetite generally increases and usually results in weight gain. Additionally, if you suffer from atypical depression, your mood can lift if you experience a positive event or hear good news. The moods of people diagnosed with other types of depressive disorders are not typically influenced by hearing good news.

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    Gender Plays a Role

    Women experience depression twice as often as men. This interesting fact about clinical depression may be due to hormonal fluctuations and other biological considerations. It may also have its foundation in social role issues and pressures, and the psychological coping skills used by women that cause them to worry and ruminate more, which tends to increase feelings of depression.

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    Causes

    Depression occurs for several reasons. One of the most interesting facts about clinical depression is that hereditary plays a large role in its development. If you have a family member who's suffered from depression, you're between two and three times more likely than the average person to also develop a depressive disorder.

    Other reasons for depression include significant and traumatic life events, early childhood abuse or trauma, and changes in brain chemistry.

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    Depression Statistics

    Depression in its many forms affects around 17.5 million American adults. The Washington School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry reports that 9.2 million of these adults suffer from major depressive disorder.

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    Lost Healthy Life

    The World Health Organization reports that by the year 2020, depression will be the second-biggest cause of "lost years of healthy life."

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    Treatment

    Most types of depressive disorders are treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. However, many people are choosing alternative options to supplement conventional medical treatment. Acupuncture, hypnotherapy, yoga, Tai Chi, herbs such as St. John's wort, aromatherapy, meditation and exercise are some of the more popular holistic treatments.

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    Not Everyone Seeks Help

    One of the most curious facts about clinical depression is that around two thirds of people who suffer from it do not seek appropriate help. Even those who need it most may avoid treatment for a number of reasons, including denial or not wanting to admit that they need help, a fear of social judgment or appearing weak or there may be financial and insurance constraints.