The difference between sadness and depression can be difficult to tell - depression is a term that is thrown around in casual conversations quite often, but is a clinical issue. Sadness - a feeling we have when something in life upsets us. An event happens and we feel sadness; a loved one moves away, something doesn't turn out the way we want it to, someone hurts our feelings - and we feel sad. Depression is something that looms over us, filters in a binds to everything around us, distorting our ability to feel pleasure out of life. Depression sticks around. Sometimes the cause cannot be pin pointed - depression just is. The way I explain the difference to my younger clients is - sadness visits for a short while, depression moves in and takes over.
If you're questioning - is this depression? Chances are, it's time to talk to someone, and I'd like to encourage 3 things.
1) Speak with your healthcare provider. Often a persons doctor; gynecologist, PCP, family doc - is the one and only link they have to the world of health - So begin with someone who is a professional, that you already know a trust. This means being upfront and honest about what's going on. I've been feeling this way for x weeks/months and I'm not sure what to do. Some docs may not have a ton of mental health training, but they typically know how to get resources to their clients and are able to discuss, often better than a counselor can, how depression effects physical health. There are, of course, several different types of medications that can help reduce the symptoms of depression. I encourage therapy in addition to this if medication is the right choice for you.
2) Seek out that mental health professional and get to that first appointment. I often hear from my clients - I googled, and thought about making an appointment, but then things got a little better and I just didn't. Make the appointment, go to the appointment. Getting there can be a hard step to take, you can do it.
3) Look at how you're spending your time. Depression often squeezes the joy out of life, and the fun just stops - what's the point? A good place to start is to notice, not to change - but to notice. How are you spending your time? What parts of your life are enjoyable? With my clients I do an exercise called Energy Suck - what in your life sucks the energy out, and what in your life recharges you? Notice what's there and then refer to # 2 of this list.
Know that depression does not discriminate by race, or gender...or by how much money is in your bank account. It doesn't care how old you are, or what stage of life you're in. Depression may cause you to feel alone, but there is someone ready to listen. If you or someone you know is in need of support. You can check out my previous blog on finding the RIGHT counselor for you and or send me an email and I'm happy to help connect you