Many people use the word 'depression' relatively lightly, and it is worth distinguishing between 'depression' and 'clinical depression'; the latter referring to a long-term, debilitating medical condition.
Clinical depression is essentially a mood disorder characterized by overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and misery, which is debilitating to the extent that it becomes difficult or impossible to continue with normal life. The clinically depressed usually exhibit feelings of apathy and listlessness, and may demonstrate a lack of motivation and unwillingness to start new things. Depression is also regarded by many as 'frozen anger', or the extreme result of an inability (or unwillingness) to express anger. As such, many clinical depressives may exhibit irritation and small-scale anger - or conversely, an inability to express any level of anger at all.
Clinical depression is, in itself, extremely distressing and can be very painful and exhausting; but the condition can also bring on physical complaints, such as headaches, colds, muscle pain, back ache and non-specific sickness. In an attempt to reduce or escape the feelings of depression, some people turn to alcohol or drug use, or engage in risky or self-destructive activities; these activities can themselves result in further physical ill health or feelings of depression.
The condition can also be caused by a physical complaint, and is listed as a side-effect to use of various prescription medications. Depression symptoms can also be very close to those of other, more serious psychological conditions, and it is important to clarify the cause of the depression before attempts are made to deal with the condition. Delerium, dementia and psychosis can all result in symptoms very similar to those of clinical depression, but do require a very different treatment.
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