18 Mar Oh, I’m so depressed! Really? The Difference Between Being Somewhat Down and Being Clinically Depressed
Last week I met with a friend who told me about some challenges he’d been experiencing at work. At some point he told me that the only person at work that was supportive of him and was in a management position, was leaving. ” I’m so depressed, ” my friend said. ” this guy is the reason why I’ve been able to keep coming into work. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. It’s very depressing.”
Listening to my friend and offering him support I couldn’t help but think about the way people often use the terms “depressed” and ” depressing” very lightly. So I thought it might be helpful for me to write about what it means to be down as opposed to being really depressed.
We all have stress, heartache and disappointments in our lives. Family issues, work-related stress, relationship issues and disappointments, a failure at a task or a test, financial concerns, the list goes on and on. We all experience the odd bad mood, feeling down for a few hours or days and feeling like we need a break. That’s all very common. Usually, we are able to get some support, go out for a walk, spend time away, etc. we each find our own way to shake our difficult feelings off, see a way out and go back to feeling ok and even optimistic.
Things are very different when someone has what we call Clinical Depression.
A person with depression will tend to experience depressed mood every day, for most, if not all of the day, continuously for several weeks or months. They will tend to withdraw from friends and family, stop enjoying things that they used to enjoy, have sleep problems ( either lack of sleep or oversleeping), changes in appetite and weight, a sense of hopelessness and/ or worthlessness, problems with focusing and concentrating and, in severe cases, have thoughts of harming themselves. Usually people with serious depression stop functioning the way they used to. They may drop out of school or stop going to work. If you talk to them they are likely to say they’ve lost the joy of life.
One thing that is important to emphasize is, that it is never a person’s fault for being depressed and that people experiencing depression cannot just decide to shake it off. It is not about willpower or strength of character. Depression is a serious disorder, which people need help to overcome.
The good news regarding depression is, that there are very effective therapies out there. There is no need to go on suffering in silence. For example Cognitive- Behavioural – Therapy (CBT) has been found to be as effective as anti- depressant medication. In severe cases, a combination of CBT and medication can be helpful. Another effective therapy for depression is called Mindfulness.
The first step toward getting over depression is getting assessed and diagnosed by a health care professional. Talk to your doctor or seek the help of a Registered Psychologist so you can start your journey toward health and quality of life. Please contact me with any questions or to book an appointment.
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