What is Clinical Depression?

It’s normal to feel down sometimes. It’s even normal to feel hopeless or in despair about a particular situation or circumstance. These feelings are temporary. They may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and cause minimal disturbance in your day-to-day activities. But, when these feelings become constant, more intense, and lasts for more than two weeks, you may have major depressive disorder. What is Clinical or Major Depression? Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is a serious mental illness that can interfere with daily activities like work, school, sleep, and leisure. You may feel less motivated to spend time with friends or family, and instead choose to spend more time alone. This type of depression is much more severe than other kinds of depression, like acute depression or persistent depressive disorder. It’s a severe mood disorder that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Because clinical depression impacts feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, also known as the cognitive behavior triangle, it often interferes with everyday functioning. People with clinical depression may start to have poorer hygiene, worse performance at school or work, and less interaction with friends and family. For some, …

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What is Seasonal Depression?

As the weather gets colder and days become shorter, you may notice you have less energy, feel a little less optimistic and spend more time alone. While this may not be a cause for concern, about 5% of the U.S population experience seasonal depression during the fall and winter months.   Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a subtype of depression that begins and ends around the same time every year. This recurrent pattern generally begins in the fall or early winter months and ends around springtime, lasting about four to five months per year. This is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression. For people in the United States, the most difficult months tend to be January and February.  Many people get a mild version of SAD known as the “winter blues.” As much as 20% of the population may get the winter blues, which is usually linked to something specific, such as holiday stress or grief over missing loved ones. The winter blues isn’t a medical diagnosis and usually goes away on its own after a few weeks or months.  Some people might have depressive episodes during the spring and summer. This is known as summer-pattern SAD or summer depression, which affects about 10% of the population.   What causes seasonal depression?  Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, it has been linked to a chemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and …

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3 Suicide Warning Signs to Look Out For

Suicide claims the lives of over 47,500 people every year in the United States. When a person dies by suicide, it affects family, friends, and communities, leaving them lost, confused, and in some cases, feeling responsible for their death.   “Death by suicide” means intentionally ending your own life. It’s often a way for people who are suffering to escape their pain when they feel like there are no solutions to their problems and have lost hope of getting better. Many people think about suicide. In 2019, there was an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts in the United States. A suicide attempt is when someone harms themselves with the intent to take their life, but they do not die.  Because suicide affects all genders, ages, and ethnicities, knowing the risk factors and being aware of the warning signs can help you identify if someone is having thoughts about suicide and what steps you can take to prevent it.    What Are the Risk Factors for Suicide?  Suicide typically occurs when external stressors, like financial or relationship instability, and health obstacles, like a chronic illness or major surgery, create a sense of hopelessness and despair. Mental health conditions such as depression, eating disorders, …

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How to Treat Major Depressive Disorder

Feeling sad or down is a normal human emotion. It’s natural to feel negative feelings like sadness or depression when facing a life challenge, such as losing a job, the passing of a loved one, or facing a serious illness. These are usually short-lived and don’t interfere with daily living. But when these feelings become persistent, intensify, and interrupt day-to-day life, a mood disorder like major depressive disorder might be present.   Major depressive disorder is a serious mental illness that significantly impairs a person’s ability to function, causing changes in mood, behavior, appetite, and sleep. Depression is the leading cause of disability, affecting nearly 280 million people worldwide.   Treatment For Depression  When you’re struggling with a debilitating mental illness like depression, recovery can seem impossible. You may find yourself wondering if you can or will ever get better. The good news is, you can.   Depression is a treatable condition that is most effective when treatment begins shortly after a diagnosis, however, it’s never too late to seek help. Treatment is individualized based on the severity of symptoms, how long you’ve been experiencing symptoms, physical and mental health history, and co-occurring disorders.   Treatment options for depression will vary but will usually include …

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Am I Depressed? Surprising Signs of Depression

Life gets tough sometimes, and you may start to feel stressed or down. Over the last few weeks, or months, you’ve noticed you’re having more bad days than good – you’re less productive at work, spending more time alone, and haven’t been able to sleep.  Something feels different from the normal ups and downs you’ve experienced before. So you go to the doctor and tell them how you’ve been feeling, and how long you’ve been feeling that way. The doctor says it sounds like you are depressed, and that you might have major depressive disorder.  Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, with an estimated 17.3 million adults age 18 or older have at least one major depressive episode in 2017. About 1 in 6 adults will have depression at some point in their life, but anyone at any age can get depressed.  What is major depressive disorder? Also known as clinical depression, major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mood disorder that affects the way people feel, think, and handle daily activities like eating, sleeping, or working.  Depression is a serious mental health condition that needs professional care. Of those who seek …

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women feeling depressed

8 Celebrities Who Struggle With Depression

Celebrities have it all – status, wealth, power, resources, luck – or so we think. From the outside, they don’t appear to struggle with mental or emotional health and seemingly have it all together. But looks can be deceiving. Celebrities have real feelings and mental health issues that interfere with daily living. On the inside, celebrities are just like everyone else.  Until recently, it was taboo for anyone to speak up about personal mental health issues for fear of judgement and ridicule. But the stigma of depression has slowly lifted as celebrities have bravely opened up about their stories and use their platform as a means to advocate for mental health.  The truth is depression doesn’t discriminate. More than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide, ranking it as the leading cause of disability in the world.  Major depressive disorder is described as experiencing a depressed mood or loss of interest in daily activities, coupled with problems sleeping, change in appetite, poor concentration, altered energy levels, isolation, and feelings of low self-worth for at least two weeks.  While there isn’t a simple cure-all for depression, the healing journey begins when we start to honestly and openly share about our battles …

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Men's Mental Health - PatientsLikeMe member John films WebMD depression video

Brits are boosting men’s mental health — can the U.S. follow suit?

The British Royals’ passion for improving mental health is giving us all the feels — and possibly helping reduce male suicide rates in the U.K. Who’s raising awareness of men’s mental health in the U.S.? (See how PatientsLikeMe member John, pictured above, is doing his part!) Diverging stats in the U.K. and U.S. The U.K. has been making progress in terms of reducing male suicide rates and the stigma around men’s mental health, thanks in part to Heads Together campaign launched by Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry in 2016. Each of them have their own areas of focus in mental health advocacy. Kate deserves credit for coming up with the idea to join forces for one major campaign, Prince William says. He and his brother have also been opening up about their grief from losing their mother during their childhood. Unfortunately, U.S. suicide rates (among men and women) have been on the rise, according to the latest CDC report, and stigma still surrounds mental health — especially among men. The American Psychological Association (APA) says that about 6 million American men suffer from depression every year, but men are far less likely than women to seek help for their mental health. U.S. psychology researchers are studying “how …

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“This’ll make you feel better!î About Depression Advice from people who don’t have depression

Martha Mills, a writer for The Guardian, candidly wrote a piece called “’Just go for a run’: testing everyday advice for depression,” where she reviews tips that people unfamiliar with depression have offered her to “keep the blues away.” Check out her assessment of different kinds of advice, plus hear what the PatientsLikeMe community has said about mental health–related tips from the peanut gallery. Common pointers put to the test Why did Martha take on this experiment? In her own words: “Being especially practiced at denial, I decided that I, a mere mortal with a solid history of depressive episodes since childhood, could fake my way out of this oncoming tsunami of debilitating black fog using the advice that people who have never experienced depression trot out – an experiment that could surely only succeed [sidelong glance to camera]. I would improve my diet and exercise, force myself to take up hobbies, I would ‘soldier on until it passed’ and thrust myself (reluctantly) into social situations.” To sum up her “review”: Working out didn’t work for her and just made her mind “churn” (although she acknowledged that exercise can be a beneficial part of a treatment plan for many people with mental health conditions). Taking …

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Key takeaways from a recent study on antidepressants

The World Health Organization reports 300 million people live with depression, but less than half receive effective treatment. A recent study in the journal The Lancet has been making headlines for comparing the effectiveness of antidepressant medications — information that is often lacking for patients trying to make informed choices about their treatments. They found that all of the medications were modestly more effective than a placebo and some were more effective than others. With help from our research team, we took a closer look at what these findings really mean and how they compare to what members are reporting on PatientsLikeMe. Let’s break down the research Researchers looked at 474 placebo-controlled and head-to-head trials including a total of 100,000+ paients on their first line of treatment for major depressive disorder. They compared the effectiveness of 21 different antidepressants to each other and a placebo. The medications were randomly assigned. Key takeaways Some antidepressants, such as escitalopram (Lexapro), mirtazapine (Remeron), paroxetine (Paxil), agomelatine (Melitor), and sertraline (Zoloft) were more effective with lower dropout rates (patients who stopped taking the medication due to side effects or other factors). Medications like Reboxetine (Edronax), trazodone (Desyrel), and fluvoxamine (Fevarin) had lower efficacy. The antidepressants with the highest …

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Health news: What’s making headlines in June

In case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in June…   Parkinson’s disease: Apple Watch will now be able to monitor PD: Tech developers announced this month that the Apple Watch will now be able to track two common PD symptoms — tremors and dyskinesia — and map them out in graphs to help doctors (and patients) with PD monitoring. Fill me in. Study points to an “overlooked driver” of PD — Bacteriophages: What are bacteriophages or “phages”? Viruses that infect bacteria. New research shows that people with PD may have an overabundance of phages that kill “good” bacteria in the microbiome or gut, which could mean a new target for treating PD. More on the study. Lupus: How common are cognitive issues with lupus? Very. A doctor specializing in lupus research says nearly 40% of people with SLE have some level of cognitive impairment, such as trouble with attention, recall and concentration — so doctors should monitor it early and often. Read his Q&A. Lung cancer: Drug may replace chemo as initial treatment for many with NSCLC: New clinical trial results of the immunotherapy drug Keytruda show that it can be a more effective first treatment than chemotherapy for …

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