Determining the severity of the depression
While there are many symptoms associated with clinical depression, these seven symptoms indicate the depth and degree of depression:
- sense of failure
- loss of social interest
- sense of punishment
- suicidal thoughts
Two of the most common psychological signs of clinical depression are hopelessness and helplessness.
- People who feel hopeless believe that their distressing symptoms may never get better.
- People who feel helpless think they are beyond help, that no one cares enough to help them or could succeed in helping, even if they tried.
Many people refuse to acknowledge that they are in a depressive state and will actually deny that they are feeling unhappy, demoralized or depressed. This group of individuals often experience what physicians called "masked depression. " These people resist the notion of emotional distress, and will use various physical complaints to explain their feelings.
Physicians who are familiar with a patient's usual mood and personality, as well as their lifestyle and situation, are more likely to recognize changes associated with depressive illness. Similarly, patients are more likely to open up about their feelings when they are encouraged to do so by a physician they trust and with whom they are familiar.
Depression and Chronic Illness
How common is depression in people with chronic illness?
Some psychiatric and medical studies state that 15 percent of those with a chronic illness suffer from clinical depression; others place this figure as high as 60 percent. Although clinical depression is certainly more common in people with chronic medical illness, (e.g., lupus) than in the general population, not every patient with a chronic illness suffers from clinical depression.
Episodes of clinical depression usually last for only a few months in patients with a chronic illness. However, a flare of the disease can also trigger depression because a person may feel he/she is never going to be free of the illness.