By: Dr Behrouz Hashim
Depression is an emotional state of mind, characterized by feelings of gloom and inadequacy. It is a mental state of excessive sadness and may be due to a loss of pleasure or interest.
Is it Clinical Depression Or Sadness
Although depression is often thought of being in an extreme state of sadness, there is a vast difference between clinical depression and sadness.
Sadness is a part of being human, a natural reaction of painful circumstances. All of us will experience sadness in some point of our lives. Depression, however, is a physical illness with many more symptoms than an unhappy mood.
The person with clinical depression finds that there is not always a logical reason for his dark feelings. Exhortations from well-meaning friends and family for him to “snap out of it” provide only frustration, for he can no more”snap out of it” than a diabetic can will his pancreas to produce more insulin.
Sadness is a transient feeling that passes as a person comes to term with his troubles. Depression can linger for weeks, months or even years. A sad person feels bad but continues to cope with living. A person with clinical depression may feel overwhelmed and hopeless.
To clarify the difference between normal sadness and depression, there are specific, defined criteria for the diagnosis of major depression.
A person who suffers from a major depressive disorder must either have a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities consistently for at least two week period. This mood must represent a change from the person’s normal mood and impair his functioning in his daily life.
A depressed mood caused by substances such as drugs, alcohol or medications is not considered a major depressive disorder, nor is one that is caused by a medical condition.
In cases of bereavement, major depressive disorder may be at play if the symptoms persist for longer than two months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms or psychomotor retardation.
Symptoms Of Depressive Disorder
Major depressive disorder is characterized by presence of five or more of the following symptoms.
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day. An individual may express feelings sad or empty, or others may observe it.(for example appears tearful). Children and adolescents may exhibit irritability.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or most, daily activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight changes (example a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day.
- Fatigue or loss of energy near every day.
- Feeling of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Indecisiveness or diminished ability to think or concentrate nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
Coping With Depression
Coping with depression can seem like an overwhelming task; but, by obtaining the correct medical intervention and learning better coping skills, you can not only live without depression but live well. The following are some tips for coping with depression that can help improve your quality of life.
Having a caring group of people who can be there to listen to you and support you is perhaps the most important thing you can do, outside of seeking medical treatment, to help you with your depression. There are numerous groups both online in your community, dedicated to supporting those with depression and other mental illness.
- Do something for others
- Use positive affirmations
- Place negative thoughts with positive ones
- Talk to your closest friends
- Talk to a counselor or a doctor at least once.
- Get a new hobby
- Write your feelings
- Make black and white decisions
- Make a list of ten things you want to do with your life