Are You Depressed?

are you depressed

“I’m depressed.”

People throw this phrase around a lot and the meaning can get lost in translation. I think sometimes we get scared of feeling and assume that if we are sad sometimes, we must be depressed. This just isn’t true. When we think about the difference between temporary sadness, grief, and clinical depression, we are talking about three pretty different diagnoses.

Adjustment Disorders, Grief, and Depression Debunked

Adjustment disorders are often given when someone is “adjusting” to a stressor. They happen when an individual develops clinically significant emotional or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable psychosocial stressor(s). Symptoms must develop within three months after the onset of the stressor(s). This individual would be adjusting to a new situation or life change and they would not experience all the symptoms of depression or bereavement. Once the stressor or consequences of the stressor have ended, the symptoms do not continue for more than an additional 6 months. Adjustment disorders can be accompanied by depressed mood and/or anxiety. Common stressors include divorce, illness, loss of a pet, peer conflict, financial issues, or job loss. 

Major Depressive Disorder occurs when someone experiences depressed mood or loss of interest/pleasure in activities for more than 2 weeks. They will experience a change from their typical mood and have impaired social, occupational, and educational functioning. Individuals often experience depressed or irritable mood most of the day, changes in weight, fatigue, sleep issues, and changes in activity. Suicidality can also occur with depression. It is important that clinicians look out for other conditions that may look like depression. Substance abuse, medical illness, and other psychiatric illnesses have similar symptoms and can look like depression. Also, individuals who have recently lost a loved one may experience symptoms of MDD. Unless the symptoms persist for more than 2 months following a loss or the individual experiences a preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation they are likely experiencing a normal reaction to loss. 

When To Seek Help For Depression

It is important that individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts seek professional help immediately.You can contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or contact your local emergency room. If you notice a change in your mood or your loved ones mood, keep an eye out for the above symptoms. Multiple symptoms for more than two weeks may mean depression is occurring. 

I believe that anyone can benefit from mental health care, whether it is depression, a period of sadness, or difficulty adjusting. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult with a professional to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment. Even if you are not dealing with a diagnosable condition, psychotherapy can help individuals manage their emotions more effectively and helps prevent future mental health issues.

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