Everyone goes through ups and downs. Sometimes you are sad, and that can last for a while. But depression and sadness are not the same things.
Sadness is an emotion, while depression is a mental illness that affects more than 20 million people in the United States alone.
You can feel extremely down in the dumps and believe it's depression, but there are clear signs of depression that can clue you into what you're experiencing.
Understanding whether or not you are depressed can lead you to seek help and process your feeling in the healthiest way possible. It wouldn't hurt to seek therapy when you're feeling sad and unsure if it's depression, but going in with more knowledge is even better.
You know how it feels to be sad, but what is depression? Depression is a mental disorder with severe symptoms that significantly impact your everyday life. It can affect anyone of any age, race, religion, or gender. The causes of depression are vast. If you are depressed, it could be a combination of circumstance, genetics, biology, and environmental and psychological factors.
While sadness is a common emotion one feels after watching an intense movie, having an argument with a loved one, or having a bad day, it can often be relieved. Sadness usually has a trigger that leads to a change in mood. Crying or venting can help alleviate those feelings.
Depression, however, is overpowering and cannot be cured with uplifting music, a venting session, or a few hours. Depression shows itself through several symptoms that cause your everyday life to become a struggle.
Going to work, nurturing relationships, and even being excited about things you've loved in the past become difficult and even tedious. Depression causes a lack of interest. Rather than purely sad feelings or crying, depression reduces your desire to be involved in things you used to enjoy.
Depression can start with intense sadness from something like a breakup or loss of a loved one, but it isn't depression until it lasts and negatively impacts your life.
Sadness can mimic depression. After losing your job, you might stay in bed for a few days and indulge in unhealthy foods. After a few days, you pick yourself up and get back out there. Depression is more profound than that. It lasts longer and gets in the way of your activities and responsibilities.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a doctor will typically diagnose you with depression if you "have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least two weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities."
If your sadness isn't lessening with time, read through the following signs of depression to determine if you should seek help:
#1. Persistent sadness, anxiety, or lack of emotion: Crying is perfectly healthy, but if you struggle to stop crying or cry every day, it is likely a sign of depression. Anxiety or over-worrying, as well as feeling emotionless, are also symptoms of depression.
#2. Feelings of hopelessness and a negative outlook: Some people are just negative in general, but if you have lost your positive outlook or feel hopeless, depression may be the cause.
#3. Feelings of shame, worthlessness, or helplessness: Because depression is so potent, it can lead to shame or guilt. You may want to participate in activities and spend time with loved ones, but you can't.
#4. Irritability and frustration: Depression is a frustrating mental illness. It can lead to changes in mood and even aggression or anger in some people.
#5. Loss of interest or joy in activities once loved: Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed is a major sign of depression. If you no longer care about the sports you once rooted for, stopped putting effort into a hobby you were passionate about, or find yourself canceling plans you used to look forward to, it is probably a sign of depression.
#6. Fatigue and lack of energy: Depression shows itself through physical symptoms and mental ones. It can lead to sluggishness, fatigue, and a lack of energy for everything from exercise to normal activities like grocery shopping or work.
#7. Difficulty making decisions, memory loss, and lack of focus: Depression impacts the brain so intensely that you may struggle with things that once came easily to you, like choosing what to eat, remembering important appointments, or accomplishing tasks.
#8. Trouble sleeping or oversleeping: Much like the lack of energy, depression impacts your body's ability to sleep and shows on both ends of the spectrum. It can lead to a lack of sleep, insomnia, or oversleeping to the point where it intrudes heavily on your waking hours.
#9. Increased appetite or loss of appetite paired with unplanned weight changes: Although weight loss and gain can have many causes, an unplanned change in weight and appetite can be due to depression. Depression can impact the joy and satisfaction you receive from food.
#10. Health issues or pain without a physical cause: If you are experiencing unexplained stomach pain, headaches, or other pains, it could be a symptom of depression.
#11. Thoughts of death or suicide: Repeatedly thinking of death or considering or attempting suicide is a significant sign of depression and should be a trigger to ask for help.
If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms of depression, you should take them seriously. Seeking treatment from a medical professional is the best decision you can make.
Depression may be common, but that doesn't make it any less serious. Sadness is an emotion that passes with time and attention. Depression is a mental illness that needs professional treatment, guided therapy, and sometimes medication. Although painful, being sad is a healthy human emotion, but it can lead to depression when not resolved. Looking out for the signs and symptoms of depression can help you get control and seek treatment promptly. Depression isn't just a mental illness, but a frustrating one that pulls you away from the love and support you need during that time. It can remove your passion for living, leading you to revert to yourself and not ask for help. Fighting the effects of depression and getting help can both improve and save your life. Reaching out to us here at California Care Detox & Treatment could be the best decision you ever make. Let us help you by calling (949) 281-0632.