Have you ever heard people say, “I feel depressed today” or “Man, I’m so depressed right now!” – many people use the word “depressed” in casual conversation without understanding what is clinical depression. A lot of people use the word depressed when they are feeling sad but there is a difference between grieving, sadness and depression.
There are specific differences between sadness, grief and depression. Sadness is a normal part of the human experience that is temporary, usually situational in nature and may occur when you end a romantic relationship or feel stressed about something at work or home. Grief refers to feelings of sorrow or loss that lead to distress such as with loss of a loved one. Depression, on the other hand, is marked by persistent sadness that lasts for a long period of time or is more chronic.
One of the most common depressive disorders is called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) commonly referred to as clinical depression. When you have MDD, you experience a depressive mood for most of the day nearly every day, you may lose interest and pleasure in your normal daily activities, you can experience significant weight loss or gain, as well as increase or decrease in appetite. Many people also experience insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, problems concentrating, and some people have thoughts of suicide. At CNLD, we have mental health professionals who can perform an evaluation to see if you are experiencing clinical depression or other types of depression like Persistent Depressive Disorder, or Dysthymia, typically described as a long-standing or chronic, low-grade depression.
What do you do to support someone you love who is clinically depressed or showing signs?
Encourage them to seek treatment: Many times, people with depression don’t recognize that they are depressed. They may not even know they are experiencing symptoms and could think their feelings are normal. Often in society, people think depression is something we should be able to overcome with positive thinking and willpower, but depression is a serious medical condition and needs to be treated professionally.
Talk to your loved one: If you are worried about someone you think may have signs of depression, tell them what you observe and why you are worried about them. You may even have to tell them that depression is a medical condition and does not mean they are weak. Depression can also get better if it is treated properly, so remind them you are there to help by assisting in setting up appointments for them or even driving them to a therapy appointment if they would like.
If you think someone is at risk of suicide – ask them directly about it. A lot of people are afraid to talk about suicide, which makes sense because it can be a scary concept but research shows asking someone directly if they are thinking about attempting suicide can open the lines of honest communication and can get them help. If someone tells you they are contemplating suicide or have a plan, immediately contact 911, your local hospital emergency room or even call the suicide hotline number together, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Even though it can be scary, you might be saving someone’s life!
You can be there for them in everyday life too: You can give positive reinforcement to a loved one with depression, find support groups for them, and make plans to go on walks or see a movie together. You can also learn more about depression yourself to better understand what they are going through. Want to learn more about depression and the resources locally? Visit our website.