It’s normal to feel sad when faced with stressful or emotional situations, but how can you distinguish feelings of sadness from clinical depression symptoms? The answer is complex. Sadness or “the blues” might disappear soon after the onset, perhaps a few days later. Clinical depression will usually last for two weeks or longer and cause noticeable changes in your lifestyle.
During periods of sadness or stressful situations, you might be able to pull yourself out of the mood by talking to a trusted friend, getting away for awhile or simply taking better care of yourself. Clinical depression is signified by feeling like you’re in an unfathomable abyss that you can’t climb out of no matter what you do.
You may become upset when friends or family attempt to cheer you up or reach out to you in some other way and have feelings of irritability, stomach problems, changes in sleep patterns or an inability to cope with even the most menial tasks or dilemmas. Clinical depression might mean that you have thoughts of death or suicide, that life just isn’t worth living anymore or that you’re worthless and don’t deserve anything good.
Women experiencing these symptoms usually don’t have as difficult a time reaching out for help, but men might consider it a sign of weakness to admit that they’re depressed. They may lose perspective and attempt to live with the debilitating symptoms rather than asking for assistance. Clinical depression isn’t something that can be worked through without help.
The most solid clarification of the differences in sadness and clinical depression is that sadness is fleeting and the feelings usually disappear after you cope with whatever problems are causing the distress. You go on living with sadness, working every day and dealing with the lingering thoughts that are causing the “blues.”
Clinical depression simply persists until your life becomes a living hell. Well meaning friends and family might tell you to “snap out of it,” or “get over it,” but you just can’t make that transition. Turning to drugs and alcohol or other medications to feel better, even for a limited amount of time, is a choice that could harm you or affect the rest of your life in a negative way.
Prescription drugs for a medical condition might also be causing clinical depression as it chemically changes your body’s makeup. If you suspect that prescription medications might be the cause of your depression, speak to your physician about changing the dosage or the type of prescription you’re taking.
If you’ve tried everything to make your depression go away, but feel locked into the emotional roller coaster of sadness and despair, you may have clinical depression. Clinical depression can be treated with a number of options that you can discuss with your doctor.