What Is Depression?

Depression seems to be becoming an increasingly common problem. This may be partially due to the fact that people are talking about it more openly, but there’s little doubt that more and younger people are suffering from its effects. Even worse, According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, the average person waits over 10 years before asking for help.

Despite all of this, depression is still poorly understood. It’s often seen as a failure or a weakness instead of a medical condition like any other. From the video above:

One major source of confusion is the difference between having depression and just feeling depressed. Almost everyone feels down from time to time. Getting a bad grade, losing a job, having an argument, even a rainy day can bring on feelings of sadness. Sometimes there’s no trigger at all. It just pops up out of the blue. Then circumstances change and those sad feelings disappear.

Clinical depression is different. It’s a medical disorder, and it won’t go away just because you want it to. It lingers for at least two consecutive weeks, and significantly interferes with one’s ability to work, play or love. Depression can have a lot of different symptoms. A low mood, loss of interest in things you’d normally enjoy, changes in appetite, feeling worthless or excessively guilty, sleeping either too much or too little, poor concentration, restlessness or slowness, loss of energy, or recurrent thoughts of suicide.

If you have at least five of those symptoms, according to psychiatric guidelines, you qualify for a diagnosis of depression.