Are you depressed?

Depression is not simply a case of the blues. Here’s how to understand what you need.

Sadness or depression?  At times it may be hard to distinguish between the two. In its essence depression can take many forms and has different levels of severity.  Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is one of the most severe forms of depression. 

Moreover, this condition is a mood disorder which causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in things that you once enjoyed. This mood disorder can affect a multitude of things, such as the way you think, feel and behave. Depression can affect your memory, eating and sleeping habits – you may not feel like getting out of bed. Furthermore, people suffering from depression have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, to the point that life may not feel worth living. These symptoms can persist for months or even years.

Depression is a very complex disease.  For a long time now, we’ve heard that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain.  While that is part of the reason, it doesn’t capture the complexity of the disease.  There are many possible causes of depression, including genetic vulnerability, stressful life events and a faulty mood regulation system in the brain. It can be said that how all these factors interact will determine whether a person may or may not suffer from depression. 

Let’s start busting some myths:

– “If I’m feeling low, I must be depressed.”

Everyone experiences a bout of blues sometimes. It’s normal to feel sad following a difficult life situation such as going through a breakup, or losing an important friendship. Depression is different as it persists every day for at least two weeks and the sadness doesn’t go away on its own. Additionally, depression involves other symptoms and not sadness alone.

– “You can just snap out of it! Put in a little effort!”

Depression doesn’t mean that you are weak – you may only think so because society has stigmatized the condition. Moreover,  it is definitely not something you can simply ‘snap out’ of.  If it were so, everyone would choose to feel happy, right?  Depression is a biological and psychological condition; it doesn’t discriminate and it has nothing to do with how strong you are.  Nobody decides to be depressed.

 – “Children cannot suffer from depression”

As difficult as this is to digest, unfortunately children can also suffer from depression.  However, children show slightly different symptoms than adults.  For children, depression might look like sadness, irritability, clinginess, worries, aches and pains, or refusing to go to school.

Treating depression

A combination of  medication and counselling can help people suffering from depression to feel better.  Failing to treat depression can lead to serious consequences which may include self-harm or in extreme cases, suicide.

Therefore, if you feel like you have been suffering from the symptoms mentioned in this article for some time, it is imperative to seek help. Above all, keep in mind that depression is treatable.

For more Pink magazine features about mental well-being check out 3 steps to achieving work-life balance or 5 ways to lighten your stress.

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