Non-Clinical Depression

Non-clinical depression is a normal reaction to painful life events and/or physical, mental and emotional stress. It can also be caused by medical conditions and some medications, which is why it is important for anyone with depressed moods to get a complete medical exam.

Clinical depression is a problem with the brain, a neurobiological disease with debilitating mental, emotional and physical symptoms. Untreated, clinical depression can destroy brain cells.

With non-clinical depression, brain function is normal. That's the good news. The bad news is that you can still suffer severe symptoms, but the cause is not a biological brain disorder. And there' s more bad news. Chemical imbalances can develop over time if you don't address the stressor. Usually those imbalances are minor, easily remedied without medication. In some cases, severe stress that remains unresolved for a long period of time can create moderate chemical imbalances that may benefit from a temporary course of medication in conjunction with other therapies.

Most people with non-clinical depression do not require medication. Yet most are prescribed one. Medication does not help non-clinical depression and can worsen symptoms in the long term. This may explain why many people complain that their medication "doesn't work" or makes them feel "emotionally numb."

Feelings of depression can be a completely normal reaction to traumatic events, such as the loss of a loved one, or sudden negative changes in personal circumstances. Other common causes of non-clinical depressed moods include chronic stress, physical stress from serious or chronic illness, painful life events, unresolved childhood trauma, fluctuating female hormones, unhealthy thought patterns or emotional attitudes, and miscellaneous physical illnesses such as thyroid disorders and infections.

Only a health care professional can accurately diagnose clinical depression and whether or not medication is necessary. The website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor or mental health professional.


1. Chronic Stress & Lifestyle
Long-term physical or emotional stress may be the number one cause of depressed and anxious moods in adults over the age of 40. It is also the least likely to be diagnosed and effectively treated. Chronic stress leads to adrenal exhaustion and other biochemical imbalances, affecting everything from mood to sleep, energy and memory.
Read more

2. Painful life events & unresolved emotional trauma
Situational depression is a term used by mental health professionals to describe depressed mood resulting from a traumatic or disappointing life event. Unresolved emotional stress from childhood can also trigger depressed moods at any stage of life.
Read more

3. Fluctuating Hormones
Hormonal fluctuations prior to menstruation, after childbirth and before and during menopause can play havoc with the emotions, especially in women whose brain cells are more genetically sensitive to those changes. .
Read more

4. Self-defeating mental pattterns or emotional attitudes
Patterns of negative and pessimistic thinking or negative emotional attitudes such as anger or bitterness can cause depressed, anxious and angry moods.
Read more

5. Lack of vision and life purpose
We all need a dream -- a vision of purpose to achieve something of significance. Otherwise, we will feel empty, sad and frustrated.
Read more

6. Miscellaneous medical conditions other than clinical depression can depressed mood. Examples include thyroid disorders, tumors, pernicious anemia, infections, liver or kidney disease, nutritional deficiency (common among anorexics), Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders. This is why you should always see your doctor for a complete medical exam if you are experiencing severe or prolonged depressed moods.


Everything affects your brain – from how much sleep you had last night to what you ate for breakfast to whether or not you fought with your spouse before leaving for work. While non-clinical depression is not a brain disorder, your brain is still still affected by everyday stresses, even positive stress.

Everyday stresses such as relational conflicts, a crazy work schedule or deadlines at work cause minor imbalances of mood altering neurotransmitters. Internal stresses such as hormone fluctuations, illness and an unhealthy diet also affect serotonin levels. Even a mild cold virus depletes neurotransmitters, which is why some people feel emotionally down when sick. When the stress is resolved, balance is restored. Read more about Your Brain and Mood


You must identify the cause. To help you through this process, categorizes non-clinical depression based on the most common causes. But keep in mind that more than one factor may be contributing to your depressed moods.

If you are over 40, you will benefit from reading about chronic stress even even if you think something else has caused your depression.

SITUATIONAL DEPRESSION - painful life events, childhood trauma, and grief



ALWAYS get advice from a medical doctor or mental health professional. This website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor.

Clinical Depression
When to see a doctor
Home Page



 Mental Health News

Neuroplasticity reduced in brains of people with depression
The brains of people with depression show a reduced ability to adapt to their environment, learning and memory. a unique study shows. This is one of the first objective tests to show that depression is linked to decreased neuroplasticity. The magnetic stimulation tests also showed the lesssened neuroplasticity was not related to how much effort the person made. Read more

Doctors urge mental health screenings with physical exams
Most people don't address mental health issues until they drastically interfere with their lives, says a new study. This could be avoided with regular screenings.
Read more - USA Today

Calgary Flames Hockey Coach talks about his battle with OCD and depression
Facing a losing battle with depression, OCD and heavy drinking, Clint Malarchuk put a bullet to his bed. Miraculously, he survivived. Today he tells his story to corporations and high schools. "What makes me any different than a diabetic or someone with high cholesterol or a heart condition. You need medication, you take it."
Read more - Calgary Sun

Canada launches wokplace standards for mental health and safety
The Mental Health Commission of Canada released a standardized tool to help Canadian companies promote mental health, reduce stigma and support employees dealing with mental illness.
Read more

Magnetic helmet "rewires" the brain
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a helmet using magnets to treat depression in patients who have failed to respond to antidepressant medications.
Read more

Toronto's CAMH launches Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention
A $7.2 million donation from the Temerty Family Foundation will fund research into promising new treatments for persistent and severe mental illness, including Canada's first clinic using Magnetic Seizure Therapy (MST). Read more

Calgary researchers could help depression sufferers get well sooner
A new pilot project at Foothills Medical Centre and the University of Calgary could one day help people with major depression get well sooner. The study will use blood and urine tests and brain scans to determine if there is a biological marker that will help selecting the most effective medication. Read more


Do you have news items that may be of interest to our visitors? Email us