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What's the difference between depression and feeling sad sometimes?

By Blogger July 18, 2014 - 4:32pm
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Every once in a while I get the blues and get sort of sad. But it doesn't last too long or for a long period of time. I don't think I have depression, but I want to know for sure. What's the difference between having depression and just feeling sad? How is depression diagnosed?

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Hello Hayden,

We all feel sad from time to time. But, this sadness passes. That is normal and part of being human.

Depression is mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.

During episodes of depression, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:

Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness

Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex

Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort

Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people

Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still

Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility

Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

As you can see, the symptoms of depression go way beyond feeling sad.

Diagnosis is based on symptom criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

For major depression, you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period, most of the day, nearly every day. At least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure.

Before a diagnosis is made, a physical examination, psychological evaluation and blood tests are done to rule out another possible cause of symptoms.

Hayden, does this answer your question?

July 24, 2014 - 4:14pm
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