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Are you "down in the dumps" or are you depressed?

We all feel “down in the dumps” or “blue” from time to time. Sadness Is a part of life and as difficult events and stressors occur in our life our emotional system will react accordingly. It is important to identify the difference between feeling “down in the dumps” and “blue” vs. depressed. Feeling “blue” usually last for a few days or a week at most; it can be triggered by a sudden life change i.e.; unexpected break up, lost of a friend, a sudden financial setback, etc. Depression is usually characterized, however, by more intensity in sadness, persistence of sadness, diminished daily functioning and heightened anxiety. With persistent sadness people usually report a return to usual functioning and adaption back to daily activities within a relatively short amount of time. Depression usually requires the help of a therapist, psychiatrist and/or life coach to help uncover underlying issues.

According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V), the hallmark of Major Depression is recognized as five or more of the following symptoms during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning:

  • Depressed mood

  • Loss of interest or pleasure

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless)

  • Drastic reduced interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day

  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month) or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day

  • Insomnia (lack of sleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) nearly every day

  • Psychomotor agitation (rapid movement such as fidgeting) or retardation (slowed reaction) nearly every day

  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day

  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Depression is treatable under the care of a seasoned professional. The treatment of depression usually includes a comprehensive evaluation with a licensed therapist to assess whether medication or/and talk therapy is necessary. The research in the field of psychology indicates that Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the best treatments for Depression. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that treats the underlying problems by modifying distorted thinking, dysfunctional emotions and behaviors. CBT focuses on solutions and encourages clients to create a more realistic and healthy picture of their lives by changing destructive patterns of behaviors.

If you are in fact feeling "blue" or "down in the dumps" allow yourself to feel your sadness all the way through without stuffing or minimizing them. Recognize that these feelings are a part of life and need to felt and experienced all the way through in order to be healed. Sadness requires acknowledgement and compassion for self; remember to take it easy with yourself and practice daily coping skills (call on positive friends, pamper yourself with nutritious meals, go for nature walks, etc).

Depressive symptoms can be overwhelming and often feels hopeless and confusing, however, these symptoms are treatable when processed in a safe and nonjudgmental space with a professional. Talking through your depression in therapy can inform you of deeper unresolved issues. You deserve to give yourself the space and opportunity to process her feelings to unleash the best YOU!

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