Throughout life it is normal, natural and even positive that we go through very hard stages that affect us a lot emotionally. The sadness is a basic emotion, and helps us interact with the world in a fitting manner. However, it is an unpleasant feeling , and it is that, logically, we do not like to be sad. Every now and then we can see a movie with a story or a dramatic ending, which keeps us for a long time wiping away our tears. But what we deeply dislike is the occurrence of those events that lead to sadness.
It is common for us to go through sad episodes, and we know how to identify them perfectly . Above all, there are situations that keep us in a low mood for days, but also weeks. A breakup, the loss of a job, your home, a change of stage that implies going to live away from the family, a disappointment, the illness or suffering of a loved one or, above all, a near death. The feeling of sadness is intense, but it is also familiar, we usually share it with other people or receive understanding from others. In these situations, it is best to let our sadness surface, accept feelings, do things that we emotionally feel we need, and ask others for help to accompany us and listen to us. We cannot try to pretend it is not happening. We can hide the tears and stand firm if we have to go to work or meet someone, and forget the problem for a while . But we cannot do it for the whole day, or for several days . This is how we overcome it, accept it and learn to live with a disruptive element in our life.
The natural sadness and the continued one in time
There are situations that are temporary. For example, a breakup will keep you in a very low mood for days, but you know you will get over it. You will even find the positive part of it. The loss of your job can condition the rest of your career and, therefore, your life, but you will learn to implement a strategy that allows you to move on. However, the grief is very painful and lasts longer . It is a feeling that may cause us melancholy throughout our lives, but it will not keep us in the same state of sadness as in the beginning. It’s changing.
Sometimes the feeling of sadness is not triggered by an event. It can be a cluster of episodes. Sometimes it is the reaction to constant stress. It may be due to a life that does not satisfy us. Or we may not know what the cause is. As in specific events, as we explained before, it can be temporary, or start to live with us permanently. In this case, we would be developing what is known as dysthymia , which is a more or less constant feeling of sadness , which makes us irritable, we stop enjoying what we used to like, or we become very melancholic. It is a mood disorder, somewhat less serious than depression, but still quite disruptive. There are people who simply live like this for years, and others seek psychological help.
When are we talking about depression?
Depression, although it is closely related to sadness and melancholy, is perceived as a cluster of sensations that people do not identify as familiarly as a process of sadness. There is no single type of depressive disorder, but we can identify it as a much more disabling state than the feelings described so far.
The person with depression feels more than sad or blue. It is a syndrome that appears accompanied by other symptoms that, taken together, affect all areas of your life globally . It is a state of mind that, in addition, over which the person has no capacity to control in any way, has lost all autonomy over it.
However, depression has very heterogeneous signs, it varies greatly from one person to another. For example, it is common to be associated with sleep disorders , but while there are people with depression who suffer from insomnia, others sleep many hours a day. Even so, the symptoms of depression can be grouped into five large categories, collected by G. Buela-Casal, JC Sierra, and MC Cano, in the Manual of Evaluation and Psychological Treatments (2009):
– Mood symptoms: dejection, irritability, feeling of emptiness, sadness …
– Motivational symptoms: loss of interest, inability to feel pleasure , indifference …
-Cognitive deficits: inattention, difficulty concentrating, memory deficits, difficulty making decisions …
– Physical symptoms: sleep disorders, loss of appetite, lack of sexual desire, nonspecific physical pain, fatigue, nervousness , psychomotor agitation
– Social relationships: isolation, lack of interest in others, deterioration of relationships …
In general, the person with depression seems to feel a total inability to face the world in their day to day. People who have gone through it give testimonies that help us better understand what they feel and why they cannot get out of that situation with the ease that sometimes, from the outside, we think they could. In the episode of the television program ‘ Saved ‘ called “1 in 5” , dedicated to talking about depression with people who have lived with it, and professionals in the field, we heard interesting questions. Singer Iván Ferreiro, who suffered from depression years ago, commented that he was perfectly capable of differentiating between being sad and depression. He did not feel the same, and there was also a feeling described as “
It is very important to attend to isolation and social withdrawal. It is logical that the people around us tend to tell the depressed person that they need to go out, be with people and do activities that they liked in the past. However, putting her squarely in such a situation, for example, having coffee with friends, causes them tremendous suffering. Suffering because it does not generate that pleasure that we seek, because they do not know how to face it, and above all because they see their discomfort exposed to the world.
Even so, it is normal that it is the environment that most clearly notices the different behavior of the depressed person, and those that encourage him, with difficulty, to receive psychological help.
What should I do if I suspect I am experiencing depression?
The confusion between sadness and depression has several causes and also implications. Sometimes the causes are that messages are received from society that tell us that we must be “always well”, and it is not like that. We feel bad, dejected, need a break, end a stressful situation, etc. It is natural, and it also helps us understand that something is going wrong and stop to think about what to do. But that idea that we don’t do enough, that we should adapt to everything, that we have to perform better, etc., also leads us to feel excessively guilty, even about things as basic as our feelings. Therefore, we can come to think that feeling like this is pathological.
However, this logical difficulty, on the other hand, to differentiate between a temporary state or a worse state, sometimes implies the opposite. Half of the people with depression do not get to ask for help or they do it when they have been in that situation for a long time. This makes the intervention more complex, and in some more serious cases it is very difficult. But it is due to two other issues. First, to the fact that we think that we can only ask for professional help in serious cases. But this is not the case, even in the most natural situations, such as a duel, many people need support to move forward. The second cause is the difficulty in accessing psychological treatment, which in the Spanish public health has very few professionals and the consequent lack of time and resources. This means that going to the psychologist is something that we have to pay for, and a high proportion of the population cannot afford it.
In short, whenever you feel in a low mood, you have been like this for a long time and you feel that the situation overwhelms you, do not hesitate to ask for help . The psychologist is the professional who will best help you understand what is happening to you: a duel, a temporary episode, dysthymia, a type of depression, etc., and will start with you the appropriate treatment for any of them.