What is Depression?
The word "Depression" is often used in every day life to mean the same as Sadness. In fact, it's not the same thing at all. Depression, or Clinical Depression, is a medical condition, a Disorder. That doesn't mean having Depression is like being "mad"! Actually, Depression is now so common that it's almost unusual to find someone who has never suffered from it at some point in their life.
We all have to deal with different kinds of feelings throughout our lives. Sometimes we are happy and sometimes we are sad. That is all normal, part of life, part of how we react to what's going on around us.
Depression is a mental disorder which occurs when sad emotions become overwhelming and stay with us too long. This is unhealthy and can make us very ill. It can seriously affect our lives and our ability to do things, and it just will not seem to go away as time passes, the way Sadness usually will.
This type of depression doesn't just 'go away', and being told to 'cheer up' or 'pull yourself together' doesn't help. It's not that simple!
Is Bereavement the same as Depression?
No, it isn't. It's perfectly normal and healthy even (although very painful) to have feelings of deep and lingering sadness and grief when someone close to us, or even a much-loved pet, passes away, dies. These feelings are part of what makes us Human.
But the Sadness of Bereavement can turn into Depression if it goes on too long. Please see our article on Bereavement here. [ACTIVATE LINK!]
What causes Depression?
Hmmm.......... Well, on a physical level, feelings of Depression are caused by a chemical change that affects how the brain functions.
A normally functioning brain is a giant messaging system that controls everything from your heartbeat, to walking, to your emotions. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons. These neurons send and receive messages from the rest of your body, using brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
These brain chemicals -- in varying amounts -- are responsible for our emotional state. Depression happens when these chemical messages aren't delivered correctly between brain cells, disrupting communication.
Think of a telephone: if your phone has a weak signal, you may not hear the person on the other end. Their communication is muted or unclear. This is like what can happen in your brain when you have Depression.
But the human brain doesn't just cause things to happen inside itself, it also reacts to what's happening in the outside world around you, what's happening to you. This is the Mental, or Emotional, side of how Depression works.
And this is why Depression is so closely linked to Anxiety.
When something, or a combination of different things, going on around us makes us feel stressed, we can sometimes make a choice about it. We can tackle or solve this "problem", whatever it is, or we can avoid it, walk away from it. But very often, in life, this isn't at all easy to do.
Read more about anxiety here. [ACTIVATE LINK!]
When we find we can't solve a stressful situation, nor on the other hand can we walk or run away from it, this can often result in gradually increasing feelings of Depression.
When this situation stays with us long enough, it can lead to all sorts of problems with our health and ultimately, tragically, can lead some people to thoughts of suicide.
We NEED to get help for this!
What are the signs and symptoms of Depression?
Read more about the signs of Depression here. [ACTIVATE LINK!]
What can I do to get help?
Read more about different ways to treat Depression, and how to get help, here. [ACTIVATE LINK!]
How can I find out more about Depression?
See some places where you can find out more about Depression. [ACTIVATE LINK!]