Laypeople often misuse the term to refer to occasional sadness, but that’s not depression. Depression is not even feeling sad all the time – it could just as well be a specific period in your life that is causing this change in wellbeing. Maybe your dog died or you got divorced. These things take time to get over, but feelings of sadness due to undesirable changes in our lives are very common and have nothing to do with depression. It is also quite common to experience symptoms of depression during the two-week period prior to the onslaught of PMS, but these symptoms usually die down once menstrual flow is underway.
Depression facts: A disorder
But a clinical depression, as doctors call it, is different, as it refers to an actual disease that requires treatment (typically medication or therapy) and encompasses physical symptoms such as insomnia, slow speech, lack of or total absence of concentration, appetite and/or libido. Furthermore, in its huge classification-list, ICD-10, World Health Organization has divided depression into depressive episodes (standalone incidents that do no repeat and do not require treatment) and recurrent depressive disorder (repeating depressive episodes that requires treatment). In both cases, the episodes can be mild, moderate or severe, depending upon the number and severity of the symptoms.
Depression facts: Do I have depression?
First of all, I have written a more thorough article, listing the signs of depression. But in a nutshell, it’s a sign of depression if you experience repeated episodes of agitated sadness along with the physical symptoms described above. However, depression is a subcategory under mood disorders which is again a subcategory under mental illnesses. And there are other forms of mood disorders that can be the cause of your sadness. One of them is called bipolar affective disorder which refers to intense mood swings, but whereas depression only refers to a decline in mood, bipolar affective disorder can cause your mood to go up as well as down.
So, if you’re able to feel joyful and jolly, even just for a brief moment, you do not have depression. People with depression don’t care about things that would normally excite them and make them cheerful.
What you can do
If you’re absolutely positive that you have some sort of depression, I’ve written another article on how to beat depression. For more advanced stuff, we have an e-book and several apps available for download.