Understanding depression: what is the difference between feeling sad and depression?

We have all likely experienced a phase where we felt down – a dip in mood that perhaps affected our day-to-day motivation or made us want to take a day off and curl up in bed. This may have been the direct result of an unpleasant situation like a break-up, difficulties finding a job or feeling over-worked. Alternatively, there may be no direct cause at all – you may just find yourself feeling down for no apparent reason, which becomes even more difficult to explain when someone asks you why you’re upset.

Either way, many people find that after a short space of time, perhaps after confiding in a friend or having some time to themselves, that they’re feeling better and can return to their usual day-to-day lives. This is where we can differentiate between feeling down and depression. In this article, I will give a brief outline of what some of the signs of depression are, how these unpleasant emotions can leave us feeling isolated, and what you can do if you think you may be experiencing depression.

What are some of the key signs or symptoms of depression?

Contrary to a transient feeling of sadness, if you are experiencing depression, this feeling persists and stays with you for an extended amount of time. In such cases, you may find it difficult to carry out routine tasks such as going to work, cleaning, or even getting out of bed.

The signs of depression are variable; that is, they can change from person to person. However, some common symptoms include a loss of enjoyment in activities, feeling hopeless or ‘empty’ and changes in sleep and/or eating patterns. This may be accompanied by feelings of guilt and rumination over things that have happened in the past, constantly thinking that we “should have” or “could have” done things differently.

Such thoughts and feelings can leave us questioning our worth as individuals, and may even lead us to isolate ourselves from the world around us.

What can I do if I’m worried about depression?

We often become trapped in the idea that no-one can understand what we’re going through – that our issues are so complex and so deep-rooted that we wouldn’t even know where to begin if we tried to explain. This may be especially true for people who tend to ‘bottle up’ their feelings, or prefer to deal with things on their own. However, trying to work through these difficulties or unpleasant feelings alone can sometimes leave us even more entangled and confused than we were before.

Although at times it may feel impossible to envision ourselves feeling ‘better’, it can often be useful to speak to a professional who can help us put the pieces together and make sense of our experiences, and understand potential causes, triggers and treatments based on what ‘recovery’ means to us, personally. For one individual ‘recovery’ may mean being able to enjoy a coffee with a friend without feeling guilty, and for another, it may mean feeling able to carry out tasks such as cooking or cleaning.

At Harley Therapy Clinic, we offer a number of effective, evidence-based therapies for depression including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Based on your individual experiences and needs, a treatment plan can be devised with your goals and priorities in mind. Give us a call 020 3488 3901 or send us an e-mail at info@harlettherapyclinic.co.uk where our dedicated team will assist you in exploring the options available and answer any questions you may have.