Sadness or Depression- Can You Tell the Difference?
We’ve all seen mainstream portrayal of depression, but do we really know it?
Picture this – you wake up in the morning; have a delicious breakfast with your family. Your spouse reminds you that you need to pick up the dry cleaning on the way back today for your date night! You promise you won’t forget and leave for work in your car. Changing the seat covers was definitely a good idea. You get to work where your supportive boss and colleagues are out with a cupcake to celebrate your 5th year at work. You’re up for a promotion and it looks like the news should come anytime now! After a great day at work you pick up the dry cleaning (didn’t forget… phew!) and get home just in time to ready and leave for date night.
However, under all of this, there is one thing that is invisible to the naked eye – the lack of happiness you feel. No matter how hard you try to appreciate things, the days just never seem to end, things often seem meaningless and happiness just feels like something temporary until the permanent numbness takes its place.
“What is wrong with me? Everyone has bad days, right? Then why aren’t mine ending? Why is this happening? Why can’t I seem to love the things I once loved so dearly? Why don’t they make me happy anymore? Why is it so difficult to just get out of bed on some days? Why does this feel like a giant show I am putting up for the world around me?”
So what is depression?
It is possible that these thoughts and feelings are symptoms of depression or a depressive disorder. The UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital website describes depression as a “… a whole-body illness, involving the body, mood, and thoughts, and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things.”
Depression can often be accompanied by a sense of helplessness and confusion at one’s feelings and emotional state. The lack of clarity as to why the negative emotions won’t go away can further drive the vicious cycle of negative self-talk and self-loathing. This again makes you feel worse and perpetuates the cycle.
The myth of depression being “only in one’s head”
According to the World Health Organization,
“The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally… with more than 300 million people affected”
Unlike grief or sadness, the negative emotions accompanying depression do not have a concrete base and it is a serious mental health concern that many people succumb to all over the world. People suffering with symptoms of depressive disorders cannot just ‘snap out of it’ or feel better in the way that people around them can. After all, it is an illness that not only affects the mind but also the body. You wouldn’t tell someone with the flu to just “pull it together”, right? Saying that to someone who is depressed is pretty much the same thing.
Help is available! So why don’t people access it?
Even though there is abundance of medical and psycho-social support available for people fighting any kind of depressive disorder, the biggest hurdle to access that care is the stigma associated with reaching out and asking for help. In our achievement driven and consumerist society, people are often shamed for admitting that they are unable to do something or give a valuable output.
Knowledge and awareness is key!
Taking a step back from our routines, becoming aware of our feelings and communicating those feelings to those around us is the first step in getting help! It also important to remember that not everyone shows the same symptoms of depression and that there are various kinds of depressive disorders which affect people differently based on their surroundings and situations. One person could have recurring episodes of depression which can be accompanied by anxiety, while another person can experience extreme mood swings where they are inexplicably happy (otherwise known as manic) or then are down in the pits of depression with some periods of normal moods in between.