I am NOT Sad, I’m Depressed – Guest Blog by Patrick Bailey

Sadness is not the same feeling as being depressed. At one point or the other, everyone gets depressed like when you don’t pass an interview for your dream job, or when a friend dies. Depression, however, is like a sort of fog that hangs over you. It’s a cloud that does not allow you to think or see properly. You are physically present, but your mind is elsewhere. The feeling stays with you for a long time. There are days it’s worse than others.

Depression affects quite a number of people that it’s often times called the common flu of mental illness. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), about 19 million people in the US suffer from depression. At one point in their lives, 5-12 percent of men and 10-25 percent of women will become clinically depressed. The tenuousness of the job market and the sputtering economy doesn’t help.

What’s the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?

Sadness is a part of human emotions. We have all experienced it, and we will all experience it again. Sadness is often triggered by a challenging, disappointing, difficult, or hurtful situation, event, or experience. In essence, humans tend to feel sad about someone or something. It also means that when that situation changes, and the emotional hurt wanes, when you’ve gotten over or adjusted to the disappointment or loss, your sadness remits.

Depression is not a normal emotional state. It’s a mental illness that affects your behaviors, thinking, emotions, and perception in chronic and pervasive ways. When you’re depressed, you feel sad about almost everything. Depression doesn’t necessarily require you to go through a loss, change of circumstances, a difficult situation or event as a trigger. As a matter of fact, it often occurs in the absence of triggers. On paper, a person’s life may appear absolutely fine-someone will even admit to it being true-yet deep down; they feel horrible.

Depression affects all aspects of a person’s life, making everything less worthwhile, less lovable, less enjoyable, less important, and less interesting. Being depressed saps your motivation, energy, and ability to experience connection, satisfaction, pleasure, meaning, joy, anticipation, and excitement. All your thresholds will be lower. You are easily frustrated, more impatient, quick to break down, quick to anger, and it takes you a long time to bounce back from whatever is affecting you. 

Living with depression is, unfortunately, a daily trauma for lots of people. Struggling to cope with depression can make you act and feel in a number of ways including:

  • Feeling tearful
  • Feeling tired, restless, or lacking energy
  • Feeling irritated and agitated almost all the time
  • Finding it difficult to cope with things that happen every day
  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy previously
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope with feelings
  • Not wanting to be with or talk to people
  • Significant changes in appetite and weight
  • Sleeping too much or difficulty in sleeping
  • Excessive guilt or feeling worthless most days
  • Experiencing difficulty with focus, creativity, thinking, concentration, and decision-making abilities most days
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of dying

The unfortunate consequence of the confusion between being sad and depressed is: a person who’s struggling with depression is most of the times expected to “easily snap out of it,” and is told that “happiness is a choice,” or “it’s all in your head.” It is such sentiments that reflect a profound misunderstanding of what depression really is. And this doesn’t help at all.

What are The Ways That Some People Use to Cope with Depression?

Instead of talking about their feelings, some people use drugs to feel better. To others, alcohol is used as a form of self-medication to manage the symptoms of depression. This may work only for a short period of time, but in the long run, it only makes matters worse. Your work and relationships will suffer. This is because, drug or alcohol use leads to dangerous, irresponsible, and unpleasant behavior.

Depression is categorized under the following:

Mild Depression

This usually improves on its own. There is evidence that regular exercises are an effective treatment for mild depression. Talking with a trusted family or friend about how you feel is also very helpful.

Mild to Moderate Depression

If mild depression doesn’t improve, it may lead to moderate depression which requires counseling.

Moderate to Severe Depression

In these two stages, anti-depressants are used to treat the symptom of depression. These, however, have to be prescribed by a doctor. Some people with severe depression may be referred to occupational therapists, specialist nurses, psychiatrists, and psychologists. This team of specialists will be able to provide intensive treatment for severe depression.

What are The Types of Negative Thinking That Adds to Depression?

People have negative types of thinking that contribute significantly to depression, and they include:

All-or-Nothing Thinking

This is where a person looks at everything either in black or white. The person usually doesn’t have a middle ground, and when they fall short of their set standards of perfection, they feel like total failures.

Jumping into Conclusions

This includes having negative interpretations in the absence of actual evidence. Someone might say, “She said she liked me a lot, but I think she was only being nice.”

Overgeneralization

One negative experience can make a person generalize things. They hold true their perspective of things regardless of the situation or circumstance. For instance, they hold the notion true: “there’s nothing I can do right.”

The Mental Filter

Some people choose to focus on negative events while ignoring the positive ones. There are people who would rather give all the attention to everything that went wrong instead of all of the things that went right.

Emotional Reasoning

There are people who believe that how they are feeling is the way things are in reality, for example, “I feel like a loser. I’m no good at all.”

If you think you or a loved one has depression, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Needing help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Negative thinking, which is common with people who are depressed, can make you feel as though you are a lost cause; however, it’s treatable, and it’s possible to feel better.

In the meantime, you can talk to PoetsIN via their website or join their safe Facebook Group community; which you can ask to join here.

Read more of and about Patrick on his website patrickbaileys.com.

If you would like to contribute a piece on mental health, mental wellbeing, writing or reading – get in touch at paul@poetsin.com

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