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The Difference Between Depression and Feeling Down

The Difference Between Depression and Feeling Down

Am I depressed or feeling down?

So often people used the word depressed to describe a time or moment when they feel down. Depression is not an emotion, it is a mood disorder. While a person may not have bad intentions by wrongly describing his bad day as depressing, the common use or misuse of this word creates a great deal of misinformation about the condition. People are less likely to think of depression as a serious mental health illness, when the word is used to describe common feelings of sadness, irritability or feeling low.

Depression is a serious medical illness that can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors that alter the brain’s normal chemical balance. Although a person’s bad day or funk may feel disturbing in the moment, depression is a pervading feeling of worthlessness, despair and lethargy that often continues without pause or eases only to return after a short time.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression will interfere with a person’s daily life. Those affected are so overcome with depressive symptoms that they lose interest in activities, hobbies and what it takes to maintain relationships. Symptoms of depression are overwhelming and debilitating and include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and despair
  • Feeling guilty and worthless
  • Intense feelings of sadness
  • Having no interest in social activities, hobbies, pastimes or sexual activity
  • Unable to experience joy or pleasure
  • Erratic mood changes; feeling irritable and restless; having little tolerance for anyone and everything
  • Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness
  • Self-loathing
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Lethargy, exhaustion
  • Unexplained body aches and pains, headaches, etc.

Everyone feels low from time-to-time, but these symptoms will soon pass and have little to no effect on everyday life. People with depression will experience their symptoms for long periods of time, and if the symptoms do diminish, they will quickly reappear. Symptoms of depression are most noticeable when they begin to interfere with one’s social life, career, home life, responsibilities, health and wellbeing. The symptoms of depression are noticeable, and should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Identifying “real depression” in a loved one is not always easy. When a friend or family member starts noticeably losing interest in conversations, appears distant, avoids social interaction, lacks motivation to do anything or seemingly lacks a personality, they may be struggling with depression. Friends and family that are concerned about a loved one’s health should approach the individual and cite specific examples of why they are concerned that he may be dealing with depression. If confronting the individual is not an option, friends and family should seek the help of a counselor, therapist or other professional who can intervene if necessary.

Substance abuse, addiction and suicide are all risk factors associated with depression. By getting professional help early on, an individual can develop the best treatment plan for managing their condition long-term without risking any serious consequences. There are several effective treatment options available for depression, and many of these options do not include the use of long-term, potentially addictive medications.

Where Can I Find Help for Depression?

If you or a loved is displaying signs and symptoms of depression there are many people and places you can go to for help. Our toll-free, 24-hour helpline is operated by recovery professionals who are available to answer your questions, address your concerns and provide you with all the information you will ever need on depression, treatment and recovery. If you are ready, we can help you find the treatment options and services that are right for you or a loved one’s unique recovery needs.

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