Depression Or Clinical Depression? How To Spot the Difference

The Mayo Clinic explains that depression is a type of mood disorder characterized by a loss of general interest and regular feelings of deep sadness. It is important to remember that depression is more than just a period in which you feel down: if it reaches a clinical level, it could interfere with your daily life, productivity, and relationships. 


Clinical depression is more than just periodic episodes of feeling down or discouraged, it instead involves a pervasive feeling of sadness and disinterest that persists for long periods of time. Experts call this severe form of depression clinical depression, or major depressive disorder. 

When experts draw a distinction between depression and clinical depression, they will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ symptom criteria. Generally speaking, symptoms of clinical depression tend to be serious enough that they interfere with someone’s day to day life, activities, as well as their relationships with others.


Some symptoms of clinical depression might include:

  • Sleeping too much or too little (insomnia)
  • Fixating on failures from the past
  • Self blame
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Inexplicable physical issues, such as headaches or back pain
  • Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, sadness, or tearfulness
  • Agitation, restlessness, or anxiety
  • Slowed speaking, thinking, or body movements
  • Lack of energy and general tiredness that causes minor tasks to require extra effort
  • Angry outbursts
  • Irritability and frustration, even over minor things
  • Frequent or recurring thoughts of death
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide attempts
  • Losing interest and no longer finding pleasure in most (of not all) activities, including hobbies, sports, and sex
  • Having a hard time concentrating, remembering things, thinking, and making decisions
  • Increased food cravings and weight gain or weight loss and reduced appetite 


The causes of clinical depression are not entirely known. Experts speculate that the following can have an impact on whether or not you will develop clinical depression:

  • Inherited traits: Depression is more commonly diagnosed in individuals who have blood relatives that suffer from the disease as well.
  • Brain chemistry: Recently published research suggests that changes in certain neurotransmitters in the brain can have a major impact on someone’s mood stability and might have a major effect on depression and treating it.
  • Hormones: Fluctuations in our body’s hormonal balances could have a hand in triggering or causing depression.
  • Biological differences: The brains of people who are suffering from depression are different from those who do not, although experts do not yet understand the significance of these differences.


There are a myriad of risk factors that might increase the likelihood that you will develop clinical depression or might even trigger its development. These include: 

  • Substance abuse
  • Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and growing up with an unsupportive background
  • Having personality traits such as being hyper self critical, pessimistic, or low self esteem
  • Suffering from chronic or serious illnesses, such as chronic pain, heart disease, or cancer
  • Having blood relatives with a history of suicide, bipolar disorder, depression, or substance abuse
  • Having experienced stressful or traumatic events
  • Having a history of suffering from other mental health issues, such as disordered eating, PTSD, or anxiety 

It is possible for clinical depression to affect anyone, regardless of their age or background. The good news is that severe symptoms of clinical depression tend to get better with the help of medications (known as antidepressants), psychological counseling, or a mixture of both. 


If you’re wondering if you struggle with clinical depression, it’s important to seek professional help for a diagnosis and treatment. If you feel like you suffer from depression–no matter how major or minor–remember that you are not alone, and help is available. 

One very effective way to combat depression is by enrolling in online group therapy for depression, which we offer here at Grouport. Group therapy is a great way to remind yourself that you are not alone, no matter what you are struggling with. Your therapist and other group members can offer you a fresh perspective on issues you might be struggling with, and will help you get on the road to a better, happier, healthier future. 

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