|This months theme on the blog has been depression, and while the first post featured tips given by helping professionals to work through depression, this article will focus on the differences between a clinical diagnosis of the mental health condition of depression compared with a general feeling of overwhelming sadness or unhappiness. It can be important to know when to seek more help with feelings related to depression in order to be properly diagnosed and to start receiving professional treatment (depression is very treatable!).
Please note: While the information given in this article has been written by a Registered Clinical Therapist and referenced from reputable online mental health sources, this article does not contain medical advice. If you, or anyone you know, is concerned about symptoms that could relate to depression or any other mental health condition, I encourage you to seek further support from a doctor to investigate more into what's happening for you specifically, or to reach out for immediate help if you are feeling unsafe in any way.
So what is the difference between depression and sadness? Often times, people may say "I'm feeling really depressed today" and while this person may be experiencing feelings of sadness, low energy, or just feeling really down in general, being diagnosed with a depressive condition is much different than an experience of short-term unhappiness. Clinical depression can be associated with feelings of severe despair over an extended period of time and induce feelings of hopelessness which can impact all areas of a persons life. Many people may try to hide their symptoms and suffer in silence even though depression is a widespread medical condition impacting over 300 million people worldwide.
Watch the 4-minute TED talk below for a narrated and illustrated explanation about the differences between clinical depression and feelings of sadness.
Areas to consider if you are concerned that you may be experiencing clinical depression versus an experience of extreme sadness (rate on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst):
If you are experiencing any of the above concerns in a severe way, for most of the day, and for at least two weeks, you may want to consult a doctor for a thorough assessment as these symptoms may relate to a diagnosis of depression. Without adequate professional support, the symptoms related to depression can become worse and even unmanageable. In comparison, feelings of general sadness usually dissipate over time or can be lifted with changes in lifestyle and diet. With support, clinical depression can be treated, and we will visit both self-care strategies and professional treatment options for depression in an article later in this series.
Find out more about what's happening with your own mental health:
Chances are quite high that depression may touch your life, and even if you are not directly impacted by this mental health condition, you may know a friend, family member, or colleague who has experienced depression. Having an understanding that depression is not simply a 'choice' or character flaw, but a diagnosable medical condition, can help you to offer support to individuals experiencing this really difficult diagnosis.
Check out the resources listed below for more information about depression including memoirs written by individuals who have experienced clinical depression in their lives.
In the next two articles in this series, we will dive deeper intothe symptoms and causes of depression as well as self-care strategies and professional supports for depression.
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References: cmha.ca; who.int; beyondblue.org; healthline.com; webmd.com; depressionhurts.ca
*Some links on this page are embedded with affiliate links. Any revenue that I receive through affiliate marketing helps me to keep the rates charged to clients lower so that more individuals can access therapy at an affordable rate.