To a person who has never experienced real clinical depression, it may seem like a simple sadness. The truth of the matter is, there is a huge difference between being sad and being depressed. The difference can make more of an impact on the sufferer than is typically thought.
Feeling sad will generally be in response to an externally affected stimulus. Common examples could be: a break up or problems in a relationship; illness in the family or social circle; death in the family or social circle; loss of job or troubles within the employment; loss of friendship; etc. These stimuli will resolve themselves usually fairly easily, and they don’t need much more than for someone to listen to their problems and be there for them.
Feeling depressed may be triggered by external stimulus, but that is not where it originates. Depression will originate deep within the brain, where the brain’s levels of serotonin have dropped. This results in feelings of hopelessness, lack of appetite, loss of interest in normal activities. Despite having a similar outward appearance to feeling sad, the internal deterioration will eventually worsen the external appearance. This can cause even more issues as people around the sufferer either try to help with such words as ‘snap out of it’ which will just cause the individual to feel even more excluded and abnormal. Withdrawal from normal activities and social interactions will multiply, occasionally to the point of isolation.
A person who is depressed may not even realize that they are depressed, as the progression is usually fairly slow. They may believe they are just tired, or just bored of their job. If they feel a distance growing in their personal relationships, they may even believe that the other person initiated the separation.
The key thing to remember is that a simple sadness will resolve itself in time. A new relationship, a recovery from illness, or acceptance of loss as a part of life. These external stimuli will calm down and the sadness will lessen fairly quickly.
Depression does not heal itself, it requires assistance. It requires accepting that the depression is there, as well as determining methods of relieving it. It may occasionally require the use of prescription antidepressants, but that should be the last considered option.
Accepting and being willing to help someone who is noticeably depressed will also help them to realize that maybe their feelings are not a normal response. Remember that they are not just sad, and they cannot just snap out of it. A depressed person will need real commitment from those who want to help to stick with them.
Author: Laura Kaeding