Most people know when they feel “the blues”. But do you know the difference between depression and the blues?
“The Blues” are likely situational and temporary in nature. You notice almost immediately that there is a change in how you feel, and there is an explainable “trigger”, such as temporary stress related to a project at work you don’t like, the death of a beloved pet, or dear friend has moved far away. Depression may be more subtle, longer in duration, and may include other confusing symptoms, such as anxiety and suicidal thoughts, that takes many people by surprise.
According to helpguide.org, the most common symptoms of depression are:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
- Loss of interest in daily activities.
- Appetite or weight changes.
- Sleep changes.
- Irritability or restlessness.
- Loss of energy.
- Concentration problems.
- Unexplained aches and pains.
Untreated depression, unlike untreated “blues”, can lead to profound pain, isolation, and in some cases, suicide. It’s important that once you’ve identified that you are depressed, you should seek professional help immediately.
There are also multiple kinds of depression, such as Bipolar depression, atypical depression, Dysthymia (depression that is more mild, but reoccurs cyclically), and Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is important to be diagnosed correctly in order to manage the symptoms of your type of depression correctly.
Depression can happen at any age or stage of life, and the treatment of depression is not a one-size fits all methodology. Depression in teens is going to be treated differently than depression in the geriatric population, and men and women manifest depression differently as well.
Typically, depression is treated with a combination of psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), food and supplements, psychotropic medication (anti-depressant), exercise, rest, and in the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, UVB light exposure and Vitamin D. I typically interview clients about the sources of depression, take a family history, and look at the entire current picture to help you manage depression symptoms. Typical therapy helps clients feel better within a few weeks, and the follow up can continue for 12 months or longer, depending on the body’s response to the therapy.
There is life after feelings of depression. It’s up to you to do something about it, and professional counseling can be a part of your path to feeling better.