When is Depression Really Depression?

My definition of clinical depression is:

You feel awful even when things are going right

If you are feeling awful when things are awful, then you are having a normal reaction to an unpleasant event. The way to fix this type of ‘feeling awful’ is to either fix the problem, or if that’s not possible then to come to terms with what happened to you.

This is not to say that external events can’t trigger clinical depression, they can. Some people will have an external event that they don’t recover from, this is because they have a predisposition to getting depression.

I have met people in day to day life who have said that they have depression, but on getting to know them it’s actually that they are feeling down about things that anyone would feel down about. Once the problems are fixed their feelings of despair go. In this case they did not have clinical depression.

The reason I am bringing this up, is that people who think they have depression but don’t, and who recover by fixing external events, will assume that everyone else with depression can be fixed by doing that too. Their attitude will often be unsympathetic and harmful to a real sufferer.

I spoke to someone at a depression conference recently and they said that they had fixed everything in their life that was troubling them. They also improved their diet, exercised three times a week, and did all the things you are supposed to do to overcome depression. Here’s the thing, their depression didn’t go away. This is because they have an illness.

The best metaphor I can come up with is, imagine you are walking barefoot on broken glass, the pain you are experiencing would not be considered an illness. You just need to stop walking on broken glass. If you experience pain in your feet because of a neurological-based pain disorder then that can be considered an illness.

If the person walking on glass, stops walking on glass, and their feet heal, they might go round telling everyone with foot pain just to be careful not to walk barefoot on glass. When this isn’t the other person’s problem.

This article is not supposed to negate anyone’s suffering. If bad things are happening to you and you feel awful then that is terrible. However it isn’t necessarily depression. You will know if you suffer from depression, when your mood stays low for a very long time after the problems end.

Copyright MEN HEAL 2014

16 thoughts on “When is Depression Really Depression?

  • Dec 1, 2014 at 3:25 pm
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    Reblogged this on galesmind and commented:
    Chronic depression needs help it is an illness. Depression is normal for any human but if it remains for a very long time and doesn’t seem to fade then it is time to seek help. If you had diabetes you would see the doctor for meds it is the same with depression just more difficult to diagnose.

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  • Dec 1, 2014 at 3:29 pm
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    I come across as a very happy person but deep down have struggled with depression and although I told my GP I wanted to come off the anti-depressants after CBT sorted me out, she says I can’t because it is the chemical imbalance causing the problems now. I would never doubt anyone who is diagnosed with depression – it is horrible and affects so many

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    • Dec 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm
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      Like your doctor rightly says some depression is chemical based. Other depression can have other causes. It’s a very complex illness. It sounds like you’re coping far better now 🙂

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      • Dec 2, 2014 at 5:35 am
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        Thanks. I always try and show a positive out of depression, although obviously it is hard. There should be no stigma attached to any mental health issues whether depression, Bi-Polar etc. Yes I think I’m pretty much “there” now with my depression.

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        • Dec 2, 2014 at 5:39 am
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          You’re so right about there needing to be no stigma surrounding mental health issues. How did you arrive “there” with your depression?

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          • Dec 2, 2014 at 6:13 am
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            To be honest (this will be a bit convoluted) I think it goes back to a time when I’d woken up unable to move back in 1992 and tests were taking forever to diagnose me that in the end I decided it didn’t matter WHAT the diagnosis is, it was affecting my life. So, I’d pretty much reached a similar conclusion with the depression and then I lost 2 close relatives and my mum committed suicide which plunged me back into the living Hell of depression. Last year I went through CBT (for those who don’t know stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and while many dismiss it, I found it worked amazingly for me so here I am.

          • Dec 2, 2014 at 6:20 am
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            Sorry to hear about your mum. Yes CBT is great for some people. It only works for people whose suffering revolves around Negative Automatic Thoughts (negative self-talk / excessive rumination). It won’t work otherwise. Glad it helped you. You deserve to feel better 🙂

          • Dec 2, 2014 at 7:28 am
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            Thank you, I just think if I can help just one person then I have made a difference.:)

          • Dec 2, 2014 at 11:14 am
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            Very kind attitude 🙂 🙂 🙂 I imagine you’ve made a huge difference already 🙂

  • Dec 1, 2014 at 5:08 pm
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    I am in varying degrees of sadness and/or despondency every day, no matter the circumstances. Not much fun, (as you know), and I work out five days a week and eat pretty healthy, take vitamins – all that stuff. it just never goes away. But, I move forward! Peace . . .

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    • Dec 1, 2014 at 5:28 pm
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      You are doing very well to stay so positive with such a severe illness. Proud of you 🙂

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      • Dec 1, 2014 at 5:33 pm
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        And I am proud of you – amazed at what you are accomplishing in spite of it all. We are in this fight together. Peace . . .

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        • Dec 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm
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          You are always so supportive. I couldn’t do what I do without kind and supportive souls like yourself nearby.

          Reply

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