We all get sad after someone we love dies or another personal trauma touches us. This kind of sad or low mood is called reactive depression. It’s not a mental illness; it’s a normal response to something bad that has happened.
Sometimes, however, our sad or low mood significantly interferes with our ability to function normally. When this last for more than two weeks, and is associated with other signs and symptoms, it’s something more and it’s called clinical depression.
Clinical depression is a medical disorder, just like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. It’s not a sign of personal weakness or something you can just snap out of.
Clinical depression can affect your thoughts, feelings, physical health and behaviours. It can seriously impact your personal relationships, your ability to perform at work, and your ability to just get through the day.
“The mornings are the worst – I wish it would stay night forever. I hear the whine of a plane landing and my clock makes that click that says its 7:30am. So I wait painfully for another sunny, horrid day to end so I can crawl back to bed with my novel. This is where I find some peace until I remember night won’t last forever – morning will come.” – Ellen, 38
Depression isn’t a weakness or character flaw. It’s a medical illness and it’s treatable. Between 80-90% of all people with depression respond to treatment and nearly all who receive treatment see at least some relief from their symptoms.
If you feel like you may be suffering from depression, talk to someone about it. There are many treatment options for depression because everyone’s symptoms and reactions are different. Medications (e.g. antidepressants) and psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive behaviour therapy) are the most common combination of treatments. Don’t get discouraged, it may take a while to find the counsellor and the medications that work best for you.
“For me, depression was all-consuming. Anguish and desperation were the only feelings I could experience, and were so intense at times, that I felt like I was in physical pain. This pain, with no relief for weeks on end, was what lead me to obsessing about ending my life.” – Carolyn, 23
For a list of places where you can get treatment and/or find a doctor, click here.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can learn more about your choices and figure out which treatments might be best for you. To learn more click here.
Online Depression Screening
Sponsored by National Mental Health Association
This site offers a depression screen and free online 16-session CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) course.