NOV 10, 2017 05:51 AM PST

Are You Sad or Clinically Depressed?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed class of medication, second only to antibiotics. That's because depression affects more than 20 million people in the United States alone. Because depression often goes undiagnosed, this number could be even higher. And as the mental condition is tied to physical wellness, the incidence of depression is ever increasing.

Clinical depression is different than sadness following a traumatic life event, such as the loss of a loved one. Patients with clinical depression are diagnosed by trained physicians based on criteria set by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Symptoms of depression can vary, but typically include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, and fatigue.

Currently, a popular treatment for depression option is with pharmacotherapy - using antidepressants to reduce mood symptoms. There are many classes of antidepressants, each targeting different neurotransmitters associated with depression. Though there are many options for which antidepressants patients can take, getting the right drug for the right patient is a challenge.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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