What Is Depression Defined As?
Although perhaps few of us on our own can give a completely logical definition of what depression is, almost all of us have felt sad or down or “blue” at any number of times in our life, most of which constitute a normal, healthy reaction to the loss of a friend, pet, or loved one, or in response to a loss of “face” or confidence or self esteem. However, when persistent, unavoidable periods of intense, unrelieved sadness prevail upon us, inducing feelings of personal worthlessness accompanied by helplessness and, in some cases, even hopelessness, these irredeemably negative sensations may be something more than the blues. These may well be symptoms of what is depression, a medically recognized chronic illness which, however, is eminently treatable in many (if not most) cases.
What is depression in medical terms?
It is an illness which exacts a deleterious toll on health and productivity, at home and in the workplace. Symptoms and manifestations of what is depression may affect upwards of 20 million American children and adults, and is currently the nation’s leading cause of disability for those aged 15 to 45. Indeed, the loss of “productive” time generated by American employees has been estimated to be upwards of $30 billion per annum. In addition, what is depression (only too frequently ignored or self-misdiagnosed) can coexist with a number of other medical ailments such cancer, chronic pain, and congestive heart disease. Depression also manifests itself alarmingly in the number of suicides each year, ranking as the 11th leading cause of death in America (third overall among both sexes aged 15-25).
Symptoms of depression may constitute some or all of the following: dramatic weight gain or loss, a depressed, gloomy mood during most of the day (especially in the mornings), prolonged, inescapable feelings of guilt, self-hatred,, or worthlessness, an relentless sense of restlessness or rootlessness, impaired ability to remember or concentrate (frequently coupled with chronic indecisiveness), insomnia or its opposite, frequent oversleeping, and unavoidably recurring thoughts or fantasies of death and suicide.
Perhaps the most telling signs of depression in the clinical or major variety is an extended gloomy, negative mood coupled with loss of interest in activities such as sports, meeting regularly with family or friends, or sexual activity. In order to earn a diagnosis of what is depression, these symptoms should prevail for an extended period over the course of two to three weeks. These symptoms of what is depression will likely also be causing mental distress and anguish, as well as some degree of faculty impairment (interfering with one’s work performance, for example). These symptoms will not be traceable to the effects of medication, or to a medical condition such as hypothyroidism. If such symptoms should occur within a short time after losing a loved one, they will most likely not be considered as manifestations of clinical depression.
Clinical depression is not to be taken lightly. If you or a loved one suffer from such an illness, medical treatment is available, and highly recommended.