Clinical depression is the presence of depressive symptoms that rise to the level of major depressive disorder, a mental illness. Clinical depression defines the state in which the depression symptoms must be treated by a doctor.
The causes of clinical depression are not specifically defined. However, as with the causes of depression in general, the causes of clinical depression are thought to be a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors.
Clinical Depression Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of clinical depression are often first noticed as physical complaints. These physical ailments may be the clinical depression symptoms first presented to a doctor. Physical complaints of those clinically depressed include:1
- Stomach pain
- Weight change
- Trouble sleeping
It is only later, generally during a diagnostic interview, that the classic symptoms of clinical depression, such as sadness and a lack of pleasure, become clear. See more on the symptoms of depression here.
Clinical Depression Treatment
Treatment for clinical depression is typically begun with the prescription of an antidepressant. Many types of antidepressants are available, but doctors generally use a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) as the frontline treatment. They include: fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro). Several medications may have to be tried in order to successfully treat clinical depression. Types of antidepressants other than SSRIs may also be used.
Clinical depression is also treated with psychotherapy, often in combination with medication. Several types of therapy have been shown to be useful. Psychotherapy used in the treatment of clinical depression includes:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Family therapy