The word depression is used to describe many different, yet sometimes overlapping experiences. To many people being depressed means feeling sad, “blue”, down, disappointed, or upset. However, one can feel all these emotions without being clinically depressed. Feelings of sadness or the blues are generally brief in duration and have minimal or slight effects on normal everyday functioning. Clinical “depression” is an emotional, physical and cognitive state which is more intense and long-lasting and which has more negative effects on an individual’s day-to-day life.
It is also important to distinguish depression from the sadness we naturally experience after loss, for example, a bereavement. Although the grief associated with loss is intense and long-lasting, such emotions are healthy and functional, allowing people to adjust and develop to their new life after the loss. Depression, on the other hand, is not functional and healthy. Instead of providing people with new avenues for development and growth, depression robs us of finding meaning in our lives and inhibits our personal growth.
It is helpful for depressed people to understand what depression is and is not. It is not something to be ashamed of or guilty about. It is not a character flaw or a sign of a weak personality lacking in discipline or personal strength. It is not just a “mood” that someone can “snap out of”. Most importantly, depression is not permanent – that is, the chances for complete recovery are excellent.
To find out more about managing depression or helping others you know are depressed, Lorraine can help.