Sadness is a normal human emotion that everyone alive is going to feel from time to times. Depression is when these feelings of sadness last longer and go above and beyond normal levels, making it sometimes impossible to function in your daily life.
The line separating sadness, the emotion, and depression, the mental health condition, is not always so clear, and you find yourself asking “am I depressed?”
Depression vs. Sadness
There are a number of things that can happen to a person that can lead to feelings of sadness or melancholy. Some of the more common examples: loss of a loved one, natural disasters, or stressful changes in your professional life.
Make no mistake – it is normal and perfectly fine to grieve and experience even intense sadness. The sadness you experience in everyday life does differ from depression in a number of aspects, per the American Psychological Association.
- If you are experiencing grief, these feelings tend to come in waves and are intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. If what you are experiencing is depression, overall mood is decreased for most of two weeks.
- During periods of grief, self-esteem typically is maintained. However, during periods of depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing replace your typical self-esteem.
Am I Depressed?
Perhaps the best way to figure out if you have clinical depression is to schedule an appointment with a trusted physician. In lieu of that, however, you can educate yourself about the symptoms of depression and compare those with your own feelings to see if they match up.
The hallmark symptoms of depression include the following:
- Mood swings
- Feelings of sadness
- Decreased appetite
- Loss of interest in hobbies or things you once enjoyed
- Trouble sleeping (or adversely, sleeping too much)
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of low self-esteem
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
You generally have to have some of these symptoms for at least two weeks for them to be considered signs of depression. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you should reach out for medical help or call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Causes of Depression
Depression, like most other mood disorders or mental health conditions, is actually a complex mix of a number of factors rather than any one single cause. Factors like temperament, life experiences, and family history can make a person more or less likely to develop depression.
That said, there are some common causes that tend to bring on depression in many cases.
- Family history
- Early childhood trauma
- Brain structure
- Medical history
- Drug abuse
- Stressful events
Treatments for Depression
Just like you should not feel bad for seeking treatment for a condition like the Flu, you should not feel bad for seeking treatment for your depression. Although depression is all “in your head”, that does not mean that it is any less real.
Fortunately, the future of depression treatment looks more optimistic now than it ever has. Traditional treatments like antidepressant medications and innovative new techniques like ketamine infusion therapy both present options for treatment and relief from your condition.
Contact us today if you would like to learn more about these treatments, and schedule a consultation.