Am I Depressed, or Just Feeling Low?

Feeling down on occasion is all part of being human. What turns a bout of sadness into full blown clinical depression? How do you know the difference, and when to get help? When that feeling persists, and then magnifies until it seems there is no escape . . . then there’s a problem. So, you’re wondering, am I depressed?Here are some ways to sort out if your unhappiness is a passing phase or if it’s time to seek outside, professional treatment:How long have you had the blues? A day or two is normal; however, weeks or even months of lingering discontent is indicative of clinical depression.Why are you feeling blue? If you can identify a specific cause—a bad week at work, a break up, a death, et cetera—then chances are the feeling will be temporary. Once your problem is resolved, your discontent will pass. If you can’t identify something specific and are instead struggling with an overwhelming sense of sadness for no explainable reason, then you’re probably dealing with depression.In general, how’s your health? Short term depression will result in a person feeling sad and a bit sluggish, but those with clinical depression will experience more than that. Flu-like physical symptoms can manifest. Fatigue, loss of interest in anything, and a growing desire to just be left alone are classic symptoms of depression and are often the launching points from which a depressed individual will begin pushing away friends and family.Why so serious? Passing depression, or sadness, won’t trigger behavioral lifestyle changes in most cases. Clinical depression isn’t a walk in the park to endure. Sleep patterns get skewed, appetites shift from starving to no interest in food at all, emotions fluctuate from one extreme to another, libido suffers, and being reckless seems to be par for the course because patients quit caring about repercussions. Why should they when nothing seems to make them happy, no matter what they do?Keeping friends and family in the loop with how you’re feeling can only help them help you. A strong support team is priceless. If you or a loved one are showing signs of depression, don’t wait until it’s too late. Getting in to see your medical doctor is a good place to start. They can point you in the direction of specialists who will work with your insurance plan. If you don’t have insurance or a family doctor, then you can look into community programs.