Feeling Depressed vs Having Depression
Everyone has ups and downs. Sometimes you might feel a bit low, for lots of different reasons. People may say that they are feeling depressed when they are feeling down, but this does not always mean that they have depression.
Depression is a long-lasting low mood disorder. It affects your ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure or take interest in activities. Depression is not something you can just ‘snap out of’ it is a mental illness that is recognised around the world and affects about one in ten of us.
Types of Depression
There are a number of different terms used to describe depression, some of which are listed below.
- Clinical depression – Clinical depression is a common term, but it is not a formal diagnosis. People sometimes say ‘clinical diagnosis’ to just mean they have been diagnosed by a doctor.
- Depressive episode – Your doctor might say that you are going through a ‘depressive episode’. This is the formal name that doctors give depression when they make a diagnosis.
- Recurrent depressive disorder – If you have had repeated episodes of depression, your doctor might say that you have recurrent depressive disorder.
- Reactive depression – If your doctor thinks that your episode of depression was caused by particular stressful events in your life, they may say that it is reactive.
- Severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms – If you are going through a severe episode of depression, you may get hallucinations or delusions.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – This type of depression affects you at the same time of year, usually in the winter.
- Manic depression – Manic depression is the old name for bipolar disorder.
Causes of Depression
When you have depression, it can take over your entire life, things that were once pleasurable no longer have an interest, concentration wavers easily and you have less energy or drive to do certain things; this can extend as far as loosing interest in personal hygiene. There is no complete answer as to what causes depression as the reasons can vary from person to person, some of the more common factors include:
- Changes in your hormones and chemicals in your body
- Lifestyle factors, being overweight or not exercising enough and having fewer social interactions
- Drugs and alcohol, both legal and illegal drugs might affect your mental health. Some people will drink alcohol to relieve anxiety or stress, but studies have shown that if you drink regularly or misuse alcohol you are at a greater risk of developing depression
- Other illnesses can trigger depression such as diabetes or cancer.
How is it treated?
The first step to treating depression is to speak to your GP. If they think you have depression, they can talk to you about treatments that can help. There is no one size fits all approach to treating depression as different people will require different support but your GP will suggest the most appropriate approach.
Can I support someone with depression?
The short answer is yes. Sometimes the best thing we can do to support someone is to simply listen, you may not even need to say anything, just being willing to listen can help someone feel less alone and isolated.
Stay in touch, it may be hard for someone with depression to have the energy to keep up contact, even a text message or an email to let them know you are thinking of them can make a big difference. But, keep it balanced, if someone you care for is struggling, you may feel like you should take care of everything for them. It may be useful to offer to help with the housework or to cook healthy meals, but its important to encourage them to do these things for themselves.
And lastly, look after yourself, your mental health is important too and looking after someone can put a strain on your own wellbeing.
If you would like more general advice on how to support your employee’s mental health, WA Management’s Mental Health Awareness and Managing Mental Health online training courses are great introductory resources.
For more in-depth knowledge, we offer a range of affordable Mental Health First Aid courses delivered by our expert partner including an open course being held this September! To learn more please get in touch!
Written by Neil Ward, Training Consultant at WA Management