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Healthwise: Clinical Depression

April 6, 2011

In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise report, CBS19's Stephanie Satchell took a closer look at what causes clinical depression and how it can be treated.

Clinical depression is a disease that affects one in five people at any given time. According to Dr. David Mahoney at Martha Jefferson Hospital, symptoms include issues with guilt, feelings of instability, decreased energy, decreased sexual drive and loss of interest in things that were once interesting. It can be caused by genetics, stress or even trauma.

If left untreated, clinical depression can have tremendous affects on a person.

"It's a very serious disease, one of the most serious repercussions is suicide or homicide," said Mahoney. He says it is important to get it checked out if you feel as though you are suffering from the symptoms. The diagnosis is a fairly quick process that begins with a questionnaire. After patients fill out a check-list, Dr. Mahoney is then able to decide how to best treat each patient.

Common treatments include medicines like Zoloft, Wellbutrin, and Lexapro along with talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

"It's not just something we can brush off, it has long term ramifications, it's not a weakness, its a disease," said Mahoney.

Clinical depression can affect people of all ages, especially teenagers. Doctors say it's also common for people to experience depression during the winter because that's when the days are shorter and there is less sunshine.

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