From time-to-time we all feel a bit low because of a recent event or a personal loss, but this is usually short lived. Clinical depression is far more than this, the symptoms are more severe and persistent and they tend to interfere with a person’s ability to function, feel pleasure, or maintain interest.
Although the symptoms vary from person-to-person, depression tends to fit recognisable patterns that can be diagnosed using established criteria.
There is no clear cut reason for depression, and a number of factors may be at play, including altered levels of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain, such as serotonin and noradrenaline. Treatment for depression targets these imbalances.
Depending on severity, depression is treated with psychological therapies, antidepressant medication, or a combination of both. Psychological therapies alone may be enough to overcome depression in mild cases, and are used in combination with antidepressant medications in moderate and severe cases. For some severe forms of depression, ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is a safe and effective form of therapy.