While many people use the terms “depression” and “sadness” interchangeably, there’s a distinction between the two. Read on to learn about the warning signs of depression, how to tell when you are dealing with a depressive disorder, and the connection between mood disorders and substance abuse.
Sadness vs. Depression: Making the Distinction
Sadness is a normal human emotion that arises in response to specific situations, such as the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, or other upsetting life events. While it can be profound and overwhelming, it tends to lessen with time as you process your feelings.
In contrast, depression is a persistent mood disorder that can affect every aspect of your life, including how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. Its characteristics include a pervasive sense of hopelessness, low self-worth, and anhedonia – a lack of interest or pleasure in activities and relationships. Unlike sadness, depression can be unrelated to any specific event and lasts for a prolonged period.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression
Depression symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include:
- A persistent “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, or guilt
- Irritability and restlessness
- Fatigue or decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Appetite and weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Physical symptoms that do not ease even with treatment, like headaches, digestive disorders, and pain
Seeking Help: Depression Screening and Treatment
If you are experiencing depression symptoms, a screening can be a crucial first step toward getting help. A doctor will ask you a series of questions about your mood, appetite, sleep pattern, energy level, and thoughts. They may also do blood tests to rule out other conditions that can mimic depression, such as a vitamin deficiency. The purpose is not to provide a definitive diagnosis, but to identify if you are likely to have depression.
An effective depression treatment regimen typically combines medication with psychotherapy. Antidepressant medications can modify your brain chemistry to relieve symptoms, while therapy sessions can teach you how to recognize negative self-talk and equip you with coping tools.
Lifestyle changes can also be an essential component of managing depression. These can include exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting restful sleep, and abstaining from alcohol and drugs. In addition, having hobbies and staying connected with loved ones can make a significant difference.
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment at Lakeside-Milam
At Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, we recognize that depression and substance abuse frequently co-occur, and addressing both conditions is the best way to heal. Our outpatient mental health services provide essential support and stability, treating you as a whole person rather than merely addressing isolated symptoms. Our team of master’s-level professionals works closely with each client to develop a tailored plan that best suits their needs. Reach out to us today for more information on how we can support your journey.