Am I Sad or Depressed?
Is it Sadness or Depression?
I'm sure at one point or another you have been overcome by sadness. Whatever the cause of that sadness; be it the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or life troubles in general. Sadness stinks.
When flooded with sad thoughts you may start to wonder is this normal sadness? Am I sad? Am I depressed? Wait - what's the difference?
What is Sadness?
Sadness has a simple definition, according to dictionary.com, sadness is when someone is affected by unhappiness or grief. An event took place that led to the feelings of sadness. Sadness is an emotion. As people begin to heal from the wounds that created the sadness a person is often able to pull themselves through their sadness "slump."
Sadness can also be replaced by periods of joy, happiness, and the ability to see through the negative emotions to anticipate positive emotions.
What is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association, "Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home."
Depression robs you of your motivation, spirit and the ability to focus on anything positive. Depression robs you of your self-esteem and makes you feel an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are not uncommon.
Symptoms of Depression
The main symptoms of depression as classified by the DSM-IV are:
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Impaired or lack of concentration
- Insomnia (inability to sleep)
- Hypersomnia (sleeping all day)
- Lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Unjustified aches or pains
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- A sense of restlessness (racing thoughts, inability to sit still)
- Significant changes in weight (loss or gain)
How Common Is Depression?
Hopefully, you find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone, in fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health "an estimated 16.2 million people a year experience at least one major depressive episode." That's roughly 6.7% of all adults.
Is Depression All In My Mind?
Some people might argue that depression is all in your mind. You may hear "come on just snap out of it." Some people may even downplay how serious clinical depression can be. While depression is definitely in your mind (brain), it's not something that a person suffering from true depression can "snap out of." In fact, these kinds of comments are very discouraging to the person suffering from depression. Depression is a brain disease, a disease where the brain lacks the proper chemicals needed to balance things out. For more information on neurotransmitters and depression click here.
A Bucket Analogy On Depression
In the picture above you see two buckets. One bucket, the bucket that represents the normal brain, is full of water. No water will leak out of that bucket unless it is tipped over or spilled.
The second bucket, representing the depressed brain, is full of holes. Nothing can keep that bucket completely full. That bucket could have a constant stream of water being poured into it and still would never be completely full.
Depression is Treatable
The depressed brain is similar to a bucket with holes. The depressed brain has all the capabilities of the normal brain but is unable to recover as easily as the normal brain can. The depressed brain needs help to heal its holes.
Luckily, a person who suffers from depression has many ways to help heal their brain and move forward. With proper treatment, the chemicals the depressed brain lacks can be restored, and the sufferer can begin to heal.
Speak With Your Doctor
Before being diagnosed with clinical depression, your treating physician should run tests to rule out any underlying factors such as drug abuse, hyperthyroidism, hyperthyroidism, etc. For a definitive diagnosis of clinical depression to be made 3 or more symptoms must be present, lasting at least two weeks at a time.
When speaking with your doctor, be honest, and remember to mention if you've suffered any traumatic life circumstances in the preceding months. A complete family history may also provide valuable insight for your treating physician.
Remember, depression has a wide variety of treatment options, and with determination and cooperation you and your doctor can figure out what works best for you.
- NIMH » Depression
Explore information about depression (also known as depressive disorder or clinical depression), including signs and symptoms, treatment, research and statistics, and clinical trials. Examples of depressive disorders include persistent depressive dis
- Depression Medicine Types and Tips for Taking Antidepressants
WebMD explains the different types of depression medicines and how you can most effectively treat your depression with medications and lifestyle improvements.
- Mind Over Matter, Issue #001 -- Healing From The Inside Out
Information and Inspiration for Self-Help and paths to healing from depression, anxiety and stress. Create your life from the inside out and discover what happiness really is.
© 2012 Rfordin