Severe or clinical depression is characterized by symptoms including fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, impaired concentration, insomnia and significant weight loss. It is also marked by a continuous depressed mood and thoughts of death or suicide, says WebMD.
Severe depression can affect a person's ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities, according to WebMD. Severe depression can affect people with no family history of the condition, but it seems to occur from one generation to the next. It affects roughly 6.7 percent of people in the United States over the age of 18. It also affects older adults, teens and children, but these ages frequently go undiagnosed and untreated. About twice as many woman as men have severe depression, and hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, miscarriage and menopause may increase the risk. Stress at home, work and raising a child alone also increase the risk.
Severe depression can be triggered by grief from losing a loved one, social isolation, feelings of being deprived, major life changes and personal conflicts in relationships. Physical, sexual or emotional abuse can also trigger severe depression, reports WebMD. Treatment of depression depends on the severity of the symptoms. A doctor may recommend a patient uses antidepressant medications, psychotherapy or talk therapy. Other medications can be added to the antidepressant to increase its effectiveness. The effectiveness of medications vary from person to person, and it may be necessary for a patient to try multiple medications.