From time to time, everyone encounters periods of sadness in their lives. It’s a normal human emotion and an unfortunate but unavoidable part of life. But how do you distinguish sadness from clinical depression?

Depression

Depression

Typically, an individual becomes sad in response to a disappointing, painful or challenging experience or situation. When the situation resolves or goes away and the individual has time to heal, the sadness fades. Depression, however, does not necessarily require a difficult event or situation as a catalyst, and it doesn’t just resolve itself with time. Depression is a pervasive and ongoing condition that affects our perceptions, emotions and behaviors.

Conflating depression with sadness is not only incorrect, it can be dangerous. Sadness may be something an individual can overcome on their own, but undiagnosed depression is ongoing and destructive. Depression is best known by one symptom, chronic sadness. But people with depression are not just extremely sad — they are suffering from a clinical state which requires the attention of a doctor.

Depression can manifest in many different ways, which may vary from person to person. If you’re experiencing a depressed or irritable mood, low energy or feelings of worthlessness more days than not, this can be a sign of depression. Individuals with depression may also have difficulty focusing, and lose interest in activities they used to find enjoyable.

Depression can also reveal itself as a disturbance in your sleep patterns and appetite. If you’re sleeping too much or too little, see a doctor to discuss the possibility of depression. If you experience severe fluctuations in weight or changes in appetite, this can also be a symptom of depression.

At its most severe, depression can cause thoughts of suicide. If you are experiencing thoughts or fantasies of suicide, it is essential that you contact a doctor who can support you and provide you with the help you need.

Thankfully, the symptoms of depression can be mitigated with the help of a trained mental health professional. If you are living in the Philadelphia, PA area and you are concerned you may be experiencing symptoms of depression, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (215)792-6692. With the support of a mental health professional, it is more than possible to live a happy and fulfilling life with depression, and it would be my privilege to support you in your journey towards well-being.