Recently, I decided to ask you all what you’d like for me to write about, so here goes Blog for Dear Counselor #1.
What is the difference between “being down” for a while and being “depressed”?
This is a great question and arguably one many have asked or pondered. It is also a question for me that is often followed by me asking questions in return.
What does one mean by “being down”? What are your symptoms? How long is “a while”?
Recently, I felt down due to the weather being dreary, coming home from a heart-wrenching mission trip, dealing with loss, and become the mother of a teen driver! It hasn’t felt fun, I can assure you. However, it doesn’t mean I am depressed. Although it is important to monitor how we feel and all of our symptoms so we don’t go from simply being “down” to being depressed.
Depression is a mental health disorder that can be diagnosed by a licensed clinician or medical doctor through assessment of symptoms, length of time with symptoms, circumstances surrounding, family history, etc.
Symptoms to pay attention to include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment
- Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
You may be feel down for a few days and experiences some of the symptoms of depression, but that doesn’t mean you are depressed. In order to be diagnosed as depressed, you must experience symptoms ongoing for two weeks or more.
If you have experienced any of the symptoms above for more than two weeks, I urge you to contact a licensed mental health provider or medical doctor. You do not have to stay in a depressed state forever. There is help available and treatments that work!
Also, I want to acknowledge that in certain faiths like Christianity, it can be taboo to seek help for depression. Friend, there were many people who loved God in the Bible who struggled with depression. In Job 3: 20-22, Job longs to die…
20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
and are glad when they find the grave?
Yes, Job was considered a righteous man. So, do not be discouraged or think that you have no faith if you feel depressed. It is ok to seek help! God provided ways to help us and for us to help each other. He also promised to always be with us even in dark times (Psalm 23). Finally, I’ll encourage you with a verse from Joshua 1:9,
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Thank you dear reader for your question and please send in more or encourage others to do the same!
Much love and encouragment,