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This is the area in which your FAQs will be posted and answered. If you have a question you would like to ask us, click here and it will be routed to the person, program or service to provide you with an appropriate answer.

What is clinical depression?

Clinical depression is a serious and common disorder of mood that is pervasive, intense and attacks the mind and body at the same time. Current theories indicate clinical depression may be associated with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that carry communications between nerve cells that control mood and other bodily systems. Other factors may also come into play, such as negative life experiences (which include stress or loss), medication, other medical illnesses, and certain personality traits and genetic factors.

What is the difference between "the blues" and clinical depression?

Feeling downhearted and sad is often a normal reaction to a life situation. All of us feel this way sometimes, but in a few days, perhaps after talking to a good friend, we start to feel ourselves again. Clinical depression is very different. Clinical depression is an illness, and it requires specific treatment.

Unlike the blues, clinical depression persists and doesn’t go away no matter how hard the individual wants it to. Clinical depression is not a weakness. It is an illness and can last for months or years if left untreated. The most serious and tragic consequence of clinical depression is suicide.

What is manic- depression (bipolar disorder)?

Manic-depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is a type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood. The person’s mood usually swings between overly "high" or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are illnesses associated with disturbances in eating behavior, severe body image distortion and an obsession with weight. Sufferers are terrified of gaining weight and continue to diet or binge and purge even as their mental and physical health deteriorate. Generally, the three types of eating disorders are: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.

Is there a difference between bad eating habits and an eating disorder?

Yes. Bad eating habits or thoughts about losing weight or changing one’s shape do not by themselves mean someone has an eating disorder. An eating disorder is an illness and requires specific treatment.

Although a diagnosis of an eating disorder can only be given after a full examination by appropriate health professionals, there are some essential distinctions between an eating disorder and what is called disordered eating.

Disordered eating refers to mild and transient changes in eating patterns that occur in relation to a stressful event, an illness, or some other reason. Disordered eating does not lead to significant health, social, school, or work problems and rarely causes major medical complications. Education and/or self-help groups can be very useful in correcting disordered eating.

Unfortunately, disordered eating can become more serious and lead to an actual eating disorder.

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders are a class of illness associated with unreasonable and disturbing sensations of fear and tension for no apparent identifiable cause. There are several types of anxiety disorders -- Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia (sometimes coexisting with Panic Disorder), Specific Phobia, Social Phobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Is there a difference between feeling nervous or anxious and an anxiety disorder?

Of course. Everybody feels anxious or nervous some of the time, particularly if we have to perform or prepare for an unusual event, such as a speech or test. We may feel fear walking down a dark street at night or when we find ourselves lost in an unfamiliar city.

These kind of fears are normal and can actually be beneficial by urging us to practice the speech, study for the test, or question whether we really need to be out at night all alone.

When these fears become constant, chronic, and interfere with everyday functioning, however, they become an anxiety disorder and need treatment.

What is an alcohol problem?

Researchers use the term "alcohol problems" to refer to any type of condition caused by drinking which harms the drinker directly, jeopardizes the drinker’s well-being, or places others at risk. Depending on the circumstances, alcohol problems can result from even moderate drinking, for example when driving, during pregnancy, or when taking certain medicines. Alcohol problems exist on a continuum of severity ranging from occasional binge drinking to alcohol abuse or dependence (alcoholism).

How can I find out more information for my family member who has a mental health diagnosis?

You may access many sites on the worldwide web, but one which a few of our clinicians have found valuable for their patients and family members is: These guides have many of the frequently asked questions to which you might have been wanting answers.

A second site which we have used is

If you choose to access these sites, we'd love to have your feedback!

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