Are You Clinically Depressed or Just Feel Sad?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know the difference between clinical depression and sadness or just feeling down. Just feeling sad is also called “dysthymia” and is much different from major depressive disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric association.
Both diagnoses have apathy and sadness but the time difference and symptoms are different. Dysthymia lasts for many years, while clinic depression may only last a few months.
Background on Clinical Depression
According to research out of the National Institutes of Mental Health, about 15 million Americans or 6.7 percent of us have depression each year. Just feeling down (dysthymia) affects about 3 million Americans or about 1.5 percent of Americans. The average age of onset of both conditions usually is in the early 30s.
Both clinical depression and low mood have the same symptoms, such as a depressed or low mood and other symptoms. To be diagnosed with either disorder, you have to attain certain criteria.
Symptoms Of These Disorders
For having a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, you need to have at least 5 of 9 symptoms over the last two weeks. One of these symptoms must be either a loss of pleasure in those things you use to like doing or some kind of depressed mood. Other symptoms you might experience include recurrent thoughts of suicide or death, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness, fatigue, insomnia or sleeping too much or slowness or agitation.
Dysthymia doesn’t need as many symptoms as clinical depression. The person must have a low mood and at least two of the following symptoms: poor concentration, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, tiredness, or appetite changes.
The Differences Between The Two Disorders
There are key symptoms of clinical depression that include having suicidal thoughts, problems concentrating, feelings of guilt, loss of appetite, problems getting out of bed, or feelings of emptiness and sadness and the persistence of symptoms must be within the same two week period.
In dysthymia or general sadness, there are symptoms of low self-esteem, poor concentration, fatigue, eating too little or too much, sleeping too much, and feelings of hopelessness. Dysthymia is a long-term psychiatric problem that is diagnosed when these symptoms are present practically every day for about two years or more.
The Similarities Between the Two Disorders
The symptoms of clinical depression and low mood are extremely similar. Both problems have sleep and energy difficulties, changes in appetite, loss of pleasure in daily activities, and sad mood.
In the same way, both problems can be treated with counseling and medication. Traumatic events can cause you to have clinical depression and low mood.
Triggering events can be stress at work, stress at home, sleep difficulties, pain, chronic illness, bullying, or bereavement.
Sometimes it is obvious to feel down without any particular reason. A low mood can include anger, frustration, low self-esteem, fatigue, worry, feeling anxious or panicky, or feeling sad. Making small life changes, such as getting more sleep, talking about your problems, or resolving a difficult problem, can result in an improvement of your mood. If the low mood doesn’t go away, this can mean you have clinical depression.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression can Include:
Regardless of the cause, if negative feelings don’t disappear, this may mean you need to start an antidepressant or change your lifestyle in ways that will improve your mood. If you still feel poorly after a couple of weeks, you need to talk to your primary care physician or a psychiatrist.
What Help Can you Receive?
If your diagnosis is clinical depression, your family doctor will talk to you about the various options you have at your disposal, including antidepressants, psychotherapy, and self-help programs. If you have clinical depression or low mood, you might want to undergo lifestyle changes, such as getting steady exercise, decreasing your alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet, and getting steady amounts of sleep.
You can do things like exercise, breathing techniques, and trying to look at ways to think about a problem differently. You can do online therapy or read self-help books. If your psychiatrist or family practice doctor has prescribed an antidepressant for you, you should take it as well.
Clinical Depression or Loneliness?
Have you ever felt lonely in a crowd of people or have you been content all by yourself? Loneliness is a complicated emotional and mental phenomenon that has, as its origin, a strong emotion that has a survival value in kids.
Whenever we are prompted to experience this feeling or anticipate it in the future, we get a sense of abandonment distress that we see as loneliness. This can happen after making love or even in a crowd of people. It can be very confusing and can make you feel depressed if you don’t understand what is going on.
Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition that is marked by sadness or loss of interest in daily activities along with specific symptoms that lasts most days of the same two-week period of time. The mental health condition known as depression is diagnosed by a doctor or a licensed therapist, and often requires medication.
Loneliness and its related “depressive” state or mood on the other hand is something experienced on occasion, and is not a diagnosable condition that requires medication.
These are some ideas that will help you recognize loneliness and the feelings of depression that accompany it for what they really are:
Loneliness and Depression are Feelings and not Facts
When you are feeling lonely or depressed, it is because you have triggered a memory of a feeling and not because you are isolated and alone. The brain is made to pay attention to danger and pain. That includes having painful feelings. This means that loneliness and depression get our attention. The brain attempts to make sense of this feeling. There are theories about why you are lonely or depressed that can be tangled with facts. It then becomes a bigger problem. Just because you are having this emotion doesn’t mean that it has to ruin your life.
Reach Out to Other People
Often withdrawing inside yourself and succumbing to feelings of loneliness and thoughts does not help. At its best, the anticipation of loneliness and depression may motivate you to cultivate relationships and reach out to other people, which can be very helpful to you, especially if you are lonely and sad. When you are a kid and your sadness results in crying, you may evoke a more comfortable response from others. If you are an adult, this is not always possible.
Are You Depressed or Just Lonely?
Pay Attention to Your Self-Deflating Thoughts
You often make up self-entered stories to explain your feelings when you are a child but it is not unusual for kids to assume there is something awry with them if they aren’t happy. If they are sad and lonely, kids may make the assumption that people don’t like them even though this is not the case. People who are victimised by bullying may have friends and fans but they aren’t aware of it because the loneliness and shame get more attention. Assumptions about your social status continue into your adulthood and, if you are looking for evidence that the world is terrible, you can usually find it.
Fight the Emotional and Mental Habits of Loneliness
If you recognise that you are engaged in an emotional habit, you can make a plan to deal with your loneliness. As healthy interactions with friends is a good thing, you can make the effort to reach out to other people, to have face to face time with them, and to initiate conversation with them even when your depression and loneliness are telling you not to. This takes work and effort, but it is well worth it. Getting help from a licensed therapist is a great idea when loneliness becomes a real problem that interferes with your quality of life.
Focus on the Feelings and Needs of Others
You can walk down the street thinking about yourself, the hopelessness of it all, and the loneliness, sighing to yourself or talking to yourself. On the other hand, you can go down the street grateful for the different kinds of people you get to meet. You can silently wish for them to have good fortune and good health, smiling at each person you meet. The former is more fun, although you sometimes have to remind yourself to do it. Giving to others is one of the best ways to step outside yourself and find healing for all that ails you.
Find Others Who are Like You
These days, there are more tools than you have ever thought of before to find out where the kite boarders, hikers, or knitters are congregating so you can get together with others who share your own interests. This makes it easier to identify those you have in common with or a natural basis for a friendship.
Always Show up When Meeting with Others
You don’t have to be the president of the local knitting society the first time you meet. You do have to make an appearance. Experts recommend yoga, tai chi, or qi gong in order to help your loneliness or depression. These things can alleviate loneliness and depression better than doing nothing.