BMG has asked that I post a clinical perspective on depression. Just in the way of backround, I have an LICSW from BU and I have worked on inpatient psychiatric units for nearly 27 years. I have lived successfully with Bipolar disorder for all of my adult life.
As a clinical syndrome, depression is characterized by a mood state that lasts for at least two weeks characterized by loss of energy, loss of interest in usual activities (anhedonia), sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and despair, there can be suicidal ideation as well. Depression can be likened to a feeling that someone has pulled down all the shades leaving the victim feeling alone in the dark, it can feel like being in a tunnel and not being able to see the light, or even believe that the light exists. It can leave a generally optimistic and upbeat person feeling as if they are awful and everyone else around them knows it. It sucks the joy out of living and it evaporates all dreams, hopes,and ambitions.
At its most clinically severe, depression can be accompanied by psychosis. People who suffer from depression with psychotic features can experience themselves as being dead (nihilistic delusions). They can feel persecuted. They can experience auditory halliciantions of voices telling them how awful they are and how they are right to think they should be dead.