How do I know the difference between feeling depressed and having depression?
The negative feelings and emotions that all fall under the umbrella of “depression” are never a pleasant experience. However, as we’ve found out firsthand over more than four decades of providing mental health services at Mariposa Center, it’s crucial to recognize the differences between feelings of depression and more serious or clinical cases. We’ll discuss those differences, as well as forms of treatment, in the sections below.
Understanding the Differences Between Feeling Depressed and Having Depression
Sadness and feeling emotionally “low” are natural parts of the human experience. In fact, feelings of depression can be brought on by something as simple as the changing of the seasons.
Feelings of depression often manifest as:
- A sense of hopelessness, emptiness, or pessimism
- Fatigue or a lack of interest in daily activities
- Irritability or a short temper
- Difficulty concentrating or sustaining attention
For many, these feelings are temporary and will pass after a day or two. In contrast, however, a clinical diagnosis means that multiple signs or symptoms of depression have been present consistently for two weeks or more.
The line between feeling depressed and diagnosed depression can be a blurry one, and contextual factors like financial struggles, trouble at home, or other stressors can contribute to both feelings of depression and more serious cases.
In either case, making the time for self-care can be beneficial, as can speaking with a mental health professional about the challenges you’re facing.
Self-Care For Feelings of Depression
Temporary feelings of depression can often be reduced or even eliminated with mindful self-care and some positive lifestyle choices.
Getting more sleep, for example, can reduce irritability, improve your mood, and help to remove the “brain fog” that clouds your thoughts.
Similarly, improving your diet and exercising regularly can mitigate physical and mental symptoms of depression and help you feel normal again.
Also, incorporating mindfulness practices like meditation or yoga can provide additional health benefits that can naturally reduce feelings of depression.
Seeking Professional Help & Treatment for Clinical Depression
If you or a loved one are experiencing sustained feelings of hopelessness, a lack of joy, thoughts of self-harm, or other symptoms of depression that aren’t passing on their own, the best option may be to seek treatment from a mental health professional.
Mariposa Center, for example, offers both in-person and virtual counseling sessions for individuals living with depression. We also treat female-specific challenges like postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression.
“Depression isn’t just a mental health challenge – it’s a thief. Without treatment, serious depression can rob you of the feelings and experiences that make life worth living. One of our most important aims at Mariposa is to help people move through these challenges and restore the joys of a normal life.”Megan Mallon, LCSW; Community Counseling Program Director, Mariposa Center
If you or someone you care about is experiencing temporary or sustained feelings of depression, speaking with a mental wellness professional can help instigate positive change. Don’t let depression win – take control of your life back with positive mental health support.